EMC Unveils Documentum Upgrade

Vendor opens up its document management fire-hose, but there is still work to do

July 23, 2008

4 Min Read
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EMC has started the overhaul of its document management strategy, unveiling Documentum version 6.5 and announcing a long list of products around Web 2.0 today.

That will put us on a new path of evolution because it starts to add Web 2.0 technologies into the business world,” says Whitney Tidmarsh, EMC’s vice president of marketing, explaining that firms have typically been nervous about harnessing Web 2.0-style social networking and image-sharing technologies. “It has been a little bit hamstrung -- for example, instant messaging shares a lot of information that gets passed outside of companies’ control.”

The vendor first discussed its long-term plans for its bewildering array of Documentum products at the recent EMC World event in Las Vegas, and today it added more flesh to the bones of this strategy.

First up is a Documentum offering called CenterStage, which was first discussed in Sin City under its code-name of "Magellan."

”It gives a number of new ways of interacting with information that don’t look like your typical content management product,” adds Tidmarsh, explaining that CenterStage uses an iTunes-style "carousel" for rotating images. “With iTunes, you’re looking at the cover of an album -- with the Carousel navigation, you’re looking at the front page of documents.”EMC has also built an "embedded workspace" feature into CenterStage, which is essentially a secure chat-room where authorized users, both inside and outside a company, can discuss specific documents.

A free online beta version of CenterStage will be available in August, and the GA version, which will ship at the end of this year, will also be free.

EMC will also launch a version of Documentum called Media Workspace bundled with its Digital Asset Manager later this month, which is aimed at firms dealing with complex digital images.

”It’s focused on management of rich media assets; for example, the ranking of images for a car that is being launched,” says Tidmarsh, but would not reveal the software’s pricing model.

EMC will also introduce MyDocumentum, a technology for users to access Documentum data even when they are off line, later this month.”This is kind of an old concept with a new face,” explains Tidmarsh. “We have integrated the basic content capabilities of Documentum into everyday desktop applications like Exchange.”

Another Documentum offering launched today is High Volume Server, which is aimed at firms that need to quickly process large quantities of data for the likes of email archiving and check imaging.

High Volume Server will be "bundled with our yet-to-be-released email archiving products,” adds Tidmarsh.

EMC has also enhanced its TaskSpace workflow software with a new user interface and a "Business Activity Monitor (BAM)" containing performance related charts and graphs.

”The really cool thing about TaskSpace that we’re looking at is that people are tired of five or six different programs to open up documents,” says Chris Campbell, Documentum architect at Fort Worth, Texas-based FirstCommand Financial Services. “Now we just have one user interface to access documents.”Next Page: XML, File Movement & Records Management

Other enhancements unveiled today include XML Store, a native XML database within Documentum, and AVALONidm, which is used to move and manage large files. The final upgrade is EMC’s Federated Records Services (FRS), which lets users manage records in Documentum and repositories from other vendors.

Like all of the offerings announced today -- except for the production version of CenterStage -- XML Store, AVALONidm, and FRS will be available later this month.

Somewhat confusingly EMC, refused to discuss pricing for any of the products it launched today, claiming that it is almost impossible to work out a standard configuration or mix of the 150 different Documentum offerings.

EMC’s Tidmarsh did at least offer some ballpark figures for the cost of the entire Documentum product suite.For smaller organizations or departments running the whole Documentum suite on a single application, the cost could be somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000, she explains. “At the opposite end of the spectrum, [there’s] a 100,000-person company -- in that instance, you could be talking about multimillion dollars.”

EMC’s fire-hose of Documentum announcements comes after IT managers and CIOs have urged the vendor to boost the technology, citing the need for better user interfaces and growing pressure to link their data with other systems via SOAs.

Clearly, there is still plenty of scope for enhancements to Documentum, which competes with FileNet, now part of IBM.

Although he describes Documentum 6.5 as “a giant leap forward” for EMC, FirstCommand’s Campbell tells Byte and Switch that there are areas where he would like to see the vendor further enhance its product suite.

”If there is anything that I would like to EMC to focus on, it’s definitely more in the area of XML integration and enhancing the search capabilities of Documentum,” he says. “There’s a new language called ‘Sparkle,’ for example, that’s taking things that don’t connect and making them connect in a way that makes sense.”The exec explains that Sparkle could be used to match a customer information database and product database, offering users a new level of data mining.

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FileNet Corp. (Nasdaq: FILE)

  • IBM Corp.

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