EMC Redoubles Documentum

Content management may be more efficient, but it's not necessarily simpler

March 22, 2005

3 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) has overhauled its line of content management products bearing the Documentum brand, claiming substantial improvements in efficiency, along with a range of new capabilities (see EMC Launches Massive Documentum Upgrade).

EMC offers heaps of information about the upgrade, but one of the key features is what the vendor calls "unification" of the underlying processes on which Documentum applications are based. "This announcement is about a fully unified platform, no more separate silos. All Documentum applications share one architecture," says Lubor Ptacek, EMC's diretor of product marketing for the Documentum line. "You don't have to go into three different places to set up users, security, user interfaces, and so on."

Hey, wasn't EMC claiming integration before this? Yes, Ptacek says, it was. But that's different from unification. Up to now, each Documentum application (content distribution, searching, print control, compliance management, etc.) had its own code base, repository of user information, security data, object model, and audit trail. Documentum applications were integrated, meaning they could interoperate, but IT managers still had to maintain separate data for each one, usually on separate hosts.

EMC released a collaboration program called eRoom, which it adapted to the Internet back in June 2004 (see Documentum Delivers eRoom.net). But eRoom lived separately from other Documentum apps. Now, Ptacek notes, the features of eRoom are integrated into each Documentum application.

A bunch of Documentum Business Process applications build on the new underpinnings to streamline business processes such as order entry, invoice processing, design collaboration, and the like.EMC's unification message should resonate with customers looking to improve their use of Documentum products. But will it help EMC in the fierce battle with competitors such as FileNet Corp. (Nasdaq: FILE), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Interwoven Inc., and Open Text Corp. (Nasdaq: OTEX)?

At least one analyst thinks it's too soon to tell. The real distinction will be how well the new products integrate with those of other vendors, says Joseph Martins, a partner with the Data Mobility Group. "If you want to buy all EMC and Documentum products, yes, this probably is a great deal... They can talk all they want about unification, but they're really saying, 'Buy everything from us.' "

Martins says better integration is needed since companies rarely buy just one content management system unless they're very small -- an observation that's made evident by the appearance of one profiled customer, Alstom, on both EMC's and Open Text's customer lists.

Getting systems conversant with each other is expensive, Martins says. Normal content management setup can add anywhere from five to six figures to the cost of software. Third-party linkages increase this. "There is no such thing as off-the-shelf content management. You have to define users, metadata, objects... There are all sorts of little hooks. It takes time and money," Martins maintains.

EMC, which charges in the neighborhood of $300,000 for a Documentum suite in a typical installation, claims to be offering links to Filenet and Open Text products with the new iteration. Depending on how well that works, it's a step in the direction of further unification, not only with EMC, but also with third-party products.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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