Documentum Puts on a Microsoft Face

EMC is backing Microsoft's efforts to be the one true corporate front-end

October 4, 2006

3 Min Read
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EMC is boasting an alliance with Microsoft that should enable users of SharePoint and Office products to automatically tap into Documentum as they go about their business. (See EMC, Microsoft Team.)

No biggie, you say? Weren't these capabilities available from third-party ISVs before this?

Not exactly. Certainly EMC and others have long supported links between Office and SQL Server and Documentum. And EMC has emphasized its ties to Microsoft for years, however mundane those may be in reality. (See EMC Cozies Up to Microsoft, EMC Kisses Microsoft's NAS, EMS Simplifies Storage , and EMC Intros Suite .) But now, EMC plans to support SharePoint for the first time, offering by the first quarter of 2007 two Documentum features called "Content Services" and "Archive Services" for Microsoft's SharePoint 2007, which also is set for release at an unspecified date in the first quarter of next year.

Basically, EMC will enable SharePoint users to make Documentum a Web service accessible from SharePoint. At the same time, via a bit of mapping through a Documentum GUI, users be able to add Documentum materials to the repository available in SharePoint.

EMC will also certify existing links to other Microsoft wares. Documentum will support SQL Server 2005 and MS Office 2007.As with previous SQL Server and Office support, EMC will sell the new SharePoint products and support them. Pricing hasn't been set. Microsoft won't alter any pricing in light of EMC support.

A couple of IT pros who use Documentum say third-party solutions haven't supported links between Documentum and SharePoint. According to senior engineers Steve Hershauer and Ann-Marie Horcher of manufacturing conglomerate Dow Corning, the new capabilities -- if delivered -- would allow them to get end users of 150-odd in-house applications onto collaborative computing -- something IT has been using a proprietary interface to accomplish until now.

"Project teams would be able to leverage SharePoint as Documentum's Web interface, saving on training," says Horcher. The integration would also speed the adoption of SharePoint as the standard company interface for workgroup computing. Since most users are already familiar with PowerPoint, Exchange, and other Microsoft applications, it will be a lot easier to move them to SharePoint from the proprietary interface they now use -- an interface the IT department created because Documentum's interface didn't lend itself easily to in-house applications.

The Dow Corning engineers stress that they haven't seen the software EMC has promised, and they're still planning to evaluate it. No commitment has been made to buy.

Still, the implication is that EMC may be able to hit a nerve among customers who want to use Microsoft as a front end to all kinds of storage applications, including ones for document management and archiving. That's certainly Microsoft's agenda, too."This [alliance] illustrates the use of SharePoint as a front end for integrated data searching... and Office as a front end for backend enterprise applications," say Rob Bernard, general manager of the Global ISV group at Microsoft. He describes Documentum as "another client experience" within SharePoint.

From EMC's viewpoint, beating the Microsoft front-end drum is the best way to advertise Documentum, particularly in light of increased competition in the enterprise content management space, typified by IBM's recent purchase of FileNet for $1.6 billion. (See IBM Nets FileNet for $1.6B.)

So even though EMC may be doing what others could have done, it is, after all, doing it from the perspective of its particular market perch. And EMC will use that perch to push Documentum as hard as it can. "This is the first time EMC has integrated on the product code side with Microsoft," says John McCormick, VP of product management, Content Management Software, at EMC. He says EMC believes the "dual approach of front end and back end integration" will drive customers to consider Documentum when they buy new Microsoft wares.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FileNet Corp. (Nasdaq: FILE)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp.

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