CIOs and IT managers describe using Documentum to overhaul records management

June 22, 2007

4 Min Read
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- EMC World -- More and more users are turning to document management systems to revolutionize paper-based records systems. But CIOs and IT managers here were keen for EMC to beef up its Documentum product.

The U.S. military is one of many organizations floundering in a sea of paper-based records, according to Kevin Moore, CIO of the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (US MEPCOM), which oversees recruitment for all branches of the nation's armed forces. "I need to get rid of paper, and I need a way to manage it from an electronic perspective," he told Byte and Switch, explaining that his organization has around 21 million paper records.

US MEPCOM will start trials of Documentum version 5 at the first of its 65 locations in December. Moore hopes to have all 21 million records stored in an electronic format a year later. (See EMC Tailors Documentum and Legal Eagles Seek Data Unity.)

Data capture will be handled by Documentum's Captiva technology, which it acquired for $275 million back in 2005. (See EMC Bolsters Documentum, EMC Enhances Captiva, and Content Capture Considered.)

A number of Documentum users highlighted the fact that the software requires extensive customization this week, particularly when it comes to user interfaces, although Moore does not foresee this as his biggest hurdle. (See Brown-Forman and Archiving: When & How?.) "The biggest challenge for us is understanding the cost of doing business [electronically] and changing the way of doing business," he said.The exec is already planning to integrate the document management system with his Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), which is built from BEA Systems software, sitting on top of storage from IBM and Dell. "That data becomes available to whoever wants it, whenever they want it that could be anywhere in the U.S. military or government," he added.

Long-term, the CIO is also looking into the possibility of linking Documentum with an ambitious U.S. military project called the Virtual Interactive Processing System (VIPS), which is expected to be up and running in 2014.

In a nutshell, VIPS is a way for the U.S. military to "pre-qualify" applicants by scanning data from the likes of medical and criminal records. "We don’t know what the technical requirements will be, but it looks like Documentum could play a part in that," said Moore.

Other users here this week had their attention firmly focused on the forthcoming launch of Documentum version 6 (or D6, as it is known), which is scheduled for Q3. "We would like to see them make backups much more simple on D6," said Michael Geiser, a member of the technology services unit at financial services firm SEI Investments. "In the past, that has been extra effort for our staff and the disaster recovery process has taken a bit longer."

Speaking during a keynote yesterday Balaji Yelamanchili, EMC's senior vice president for content management, said that "thousands and thousands" of R&D years have been devoted to D6. (See EMC Unveils TaskSpace.) The product will feature a toolset built around the eclipse programming language, making it easier for firms to customize user interfaces, according to the exec.The vendor is also expected to take a leaf out of its rival IBM's book with D6, adding workflow capabilities similar to those touted by IBM's Filenet division. (See IBM Nets FileNet for $1.6B, Wells Fargo Picks FileNet, and IBM Adds Governance Services.)

EMC is also planning to add additional layers of security to D6, specifically around Information Rights Management, a move which was welcomed by Geiser. "We will be able to control sensitive customer documents and ensure that only the correct people see it for the right length of time," said Geiser. "That's a huge requirement for our customers."

EMC execs also talked about their desire to roll-out D6 with what they described as zero "severity one" defects. "If we don't achieve that, we can't ship that," said Yelamanchili during his keynote, explaining later that this referred to users' ability to quickly roll out the product without troubleshooting problems.

Documentum, which encompasses 172 different technologies, has traditionally not been the most user-friendly experience, according to one systems integrator, who asked not to be named. "There are very few out-of-the-box Documentum implementations," he said. "It's the best thing out there, but it's not as mature a product as something like SAP or Oracle."

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FileNet Corp. (Nasdaq: FILE)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • SAP AG0

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