Archive

Posts Tagged ‘ECM’

#MMTM16: Case management: The good, the bad and the ugly

April 27th, 2016 Comments off

People who have read my previous blogs know I have a soft spot for xCP and case management according to Documentum. The past months I have wondered why this is.

The first and easy answer is the fact that probably more that 70% of the solutions I personally have implemented for my clients, where some sort of case management implementation. The next question I asked myself was: What do you mean: case management? It was all document management! What makes it different from the other solutions? Thinking more and more about that question made it clearer where my soft spot comes from. IMG_0797_small

People who work with me will confirm: I am a bit more than a little chaotic. To be able to function it is mandatory for me, to have an easy high level overview of all the stuff that is hanging somewhere on my to-do list. Case management is (in my eyes) exactly that functionality. Give every knowledge worker their own dashboard, with what is important for them at that point in time. And what I see in my day to day encounters with end users is that demand, that thirst, for that overview from every knowledge worker.

IMG_0820_smallIt is never about one document only. It is always about a group of information items that have, at this specific point in time, a relation with each other and this relation has a certain current status, that makes it important to show to me (a knowledge worker) right now. I need to be able to drill down to the specific pieces of information and change all pieces at once, separate or in combinations. This has to do with the fact that most (but not all) knowledge workers don’t work on one large document, but on a lot of separate pieces of information that need to be handled quickly. When you are part of the quality authors of a life sciences company or managing all assets of a large power-plant (my other 30% of the solutions I implemented), having a real document centric management system, that has the focus on that specific document and its related documents, is very important and demands an EDMS like D2. All the rest of us need xCP.

In my experience, all other types of document management systems will have way more to do with case management than with real, pure document centric management: Working on pieces of information that have some sort of relation with each other during their existence.

Case management is all about a good dashboard that shows you the right information for the task/action you want to perform.

Hand drawing Content flow chart on transparent wipe board.

With TaskSpace, Documentum took the first leap into the real case management world and showed that it is way better to have a Case Management solution that is built on the foundation of an ECM system than a Case Management system solely based on a relation database. This first go at a case management solution was good, but lacked a good and consistent developing environment and a flexible and very user friendly interface. (Beside some annoying bugs in the core)

And then came xCP2. The idea is so simple, but so great that I really jumped with excitement when I found this. This is really the vision we all were hoping for from EMC-ECD (IIG at that time). This is the good in my story. The product team, who came up with this approach, should be decorated :-). Sure, the 2.0 version was far from perfect, it had too much issues and lacked some functionality to make easy deployment and testing possible, but it was clear that this is the direction that Case Management needs to go.

With the new version coming up, and the change in deployment strategy, ECD is taking the right approach to make this a very stable and easy to implement system.

IMG_0821_smallBut there is still a bad. This has to do with the fundament of information classification and the way Documentum is structured. It is easy to create a great app in xCP Designer and to make the perfect dashboard and underlying supporting pages. It is relative easy to make a workable deployment strategy to deploy new features and solve bugs without too much interference for end users. But once in production with the number of cases growing rapidly, that great dashboard becomes slow, slower, the slowest… At first, you have happy end users, who love the possibilities of designing their interface together, and the flexibility and modern look and feel you can give them. Suddenly, after a couple of months their comments are a bit more cold and distant. In the end, the solution is still good and they are happy, but you feel that the performance of their first and main screen is getting annoying.

So my hope when it comes to xCP and Momentum 2016 is that the new product team of xCP has put a lot of thought and effort in the performance improvement of the historical queries in xCP. Challenge Jeroen van Rotterdam and his baby xPlore (xDB) to make those queries super-fast. A whole xCP solution is as good as the main dashboard!!

Digital TransformationAnd then came the ugly. Don’t be alarmed ECD, this time it is nothing you need to change :-). The ugly is all about the fight between the top 5 big IT companies who like to annoy each other by downgrading the support for the others fundament. It started with Apple who did not like Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe’s Flash. The arrogance to just not support it, shows how big their ego is. But that was only the beginning. Now a lot of browser-companies don’t like Oracle and push to the limits to make the use of Java in your back-end web-application difficult or even impossible (Chrome). And last but not least Microsoft, who is doing so great in trying to be friends with everybody now that Nadella is behind the steering-wheel, still needs to show the strength to the others. JavaScript is the most common used front-end languages to create a dynamic webpage. It is the new standard for web development and the only easy way to fulfil the UX demands of the new user. But why should that be of any concern to Microsoft or Mozilla? Sure it is easy to shout about security issues and all, but in the end it is just budget that makes it not possible to make JavaScript run very fast. To see the difference in performance of an xCP application between IE10 and Firefox and Chrome is frightening. Even the new Microsoft Edge is still lacking compared to the others and we see no improvement in JavaScript speed in the new versions of Firefox. So the ugly is only something we can hope will improve but is for sure a challenge we consultants need to be aware of when implementing the next great Case Management solution in xCP.

Access Documentum content through SharePoint

October 7th, 2012 Comments off

Just recently I read an article by TSG about replacing external SharePoint sites with a simple cached approach providing Documentum access to external users. That solution was required to provide a selective view-only access to external users so they would only see the subset of quality documents applicable to them.

In the case provided by TSG, the external users do not need access to all quality documents, but need access to the specific documents that they are expected to follow for the business process. Previously numerous SharePoint sites were set up to allow external users to access the required documents. The client found that the work effort to maintain these separate copies and keep them up to date was very difficult and was looking for an easier way. The client was also concerned about the compliance risk of the SharePoint sites being out of sync with the Approved and Effective documents stored in Documentum.

The question is: is it in general the solution that you would suggest to a client that already owns both SharePoint and Documentum? I believe it’s not.

I believe that there is a better solution available: the SharePoint Documentum Framework.

First, the case given is a common case. In many cases you want to share and collaborate on a subset of documents. Indeed, clinical trials are an example of that. But also claims, customer files or tenders match that case.
Second, the concerns about compliance and separate copies are genuine concerns. Keeping copies in sync, though theoretical simple, is difficult. It needs full control over new, updated and removed documents and on top of that proper security mapping between two – now disconnected – systems.

So why not go the route that leverages existing investments and – more importantly – use the UI powers of SharePoint and the compliance powers of Documentum?

Let me share that route.

Documentum is very capable of managing all the documents, its versions and its meta-data in a secure and controlled way. This will guarantee that any user has only access to the documents that this user is allowed to read or edit. Regardless if that user is an internal colleague or an external client. A must for compliance.

Giving access to the customer through Webtop can indeed be challenging. OK, you won’t do that. D2, the alleged Webtop replacement, is by far better suited but still isn’t perfect.
The reason for that is related to the business requirements that you must expect when sharing documents with your client. Normally, next to sharing the documents as the main requirement, there are requirements like being able to interact (discuss, set tasks) and provide related collateral or instructions.

That’s one of the reasons why SharePoint comes into the picture. SharePoint is very capable of doing just that. But how to get the right documents available in this environment?

This is where the SharePoint Documentum Framework comes into play. This framework provides webparts that can query the Documentum repository for the right documents. And they honour the security set by Documentum. So, if you revoke access in Documentum, access is revoked in SharePoint. And as a bonus, you can set access to read-only even if the user has write access in Documentum. Not that I would recommend this as a replacement to setting the proper settings in Documentum.

The other interesting part of using these webparts is that your query leverages the available information about those documents in Documentum. So, if you’ve marked a document as ready for sharing with the client through its meta-data, it will meet the query parameters and show up in SharePoint. As soon as you change the meta-data so that it no longer is available to the client, it won’t show up anymore.

Oh, and important to some organizations: this is a productised solution supported by EMC and not a custom solution.

But regardless of that, the SharePoint Document Framework provides a flexible way to merge two systems that each lead in their own space. A case where the total is larger than the sum of the individual parts. A framework sold by EMC, implemented by preferred consulting partners like Informed Consulting.

If you want to learn more, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Can CMIS cope in the world of real ECM applications ?

December 5th, 2011 1 comment

 

I was inspired by an FME Group post comparing CMIS to DFC. In neatly describes the pros and cons of using Documentum Foundation Classes vs. the Content Management Interoperability Services. For documentum customer this can be used to determine the right interface for your application: Documentum specific, or international standard.

I think the comparison can show a few things about the CMIS standard and where it stands in its current 1.0 version. CMIS is aiming to provide a product independant interface to ECM systems, to allow software companies to write ECM applications that work, no matter which ECM system is used to store the documents in. Check the CMIS page on Wikipedia for more information.

So, how does the current version of CMIS live up to that idea?
First of all, CMIS offers a full set of essential content management operations, to create ,import, or find documents and their metadata. It has folder structures and access control. It supports user authentication. All very good stuff. It also has its limits.

CMIS allows only single object operations. A logical choice imo, though it does mean that batch updates and deletes are not supported. To me this is no big deal, since batch-wise updates and stuff like that is mostly in the domain of the Super User, or Application Maintenance people and they will most probably need a proprietary tool for their work any way.
CMIS has a query language that can be used to find documents or folders. Full-text search can be used, when supported by the underlying ECM system. INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE queries are not supported however. JOIN queries are only partly supported by some implementations (currently only by Documentum and Nuxeo) CMIS has no support for Transactions. So if you need to combine several updates into 1 logical operation, your application will need to provide its own transaction logic.

CMIS supports permissions on objects, yet only, read, write, or ‘all’ rights can be specified for a user or group. There is no function to request the permissions for a given user on a given object. Only the permissions for the current user can be requested.

More advanced ECM functionality, such as Renditions, are not fully supported yet. Only a few vendors offer read-only access to renditions through CMIS, none offer functionality to add a rendition to a document. Even more advances functions, such as workflows, are not supported at all.

As you can see, CMIS supports most basic ECM functionality. It is suitable for writing applications that only need basic ECM functions, such as DropBox-like browser apps, or those sexy mobile applications that are mostly used for consuming information. Applications like that using CMIS will be usable with most major ECM products. This is great news!
More advanced applications will run into its limitations, with no support for transactions, renditions and such. Let’s hope CMIS 1.1 brings us some of those features.

Sander Hendriks

ECM Consultant

Categories: Documentum Tags: ,

Oh my, Information Overload

October 31st, 2011 Comments off

Momentum is about to kick off in full gear and it has me thinking about our clients and the problems they face. Information Managers and the organizations they represent face a fast changing Enterprise Information Management landscape. Increasing volumes of information from multiple sources, and systems result in an excess of information. In addition the paths to knowledge are changing as internal or external, traditional or web based and now also social information channels merge together as information sources. Both factors result in information overload for organizations and their Information Managers alike who must cope with the changing landscape. The traditional approach of the past was to select an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution and use it as the sole means of solving all Information Management challenges. This approach no longer meets the need of organizations and their users as no one solution will solve all challenges presented.

The evolution of ECM and the use of one tool is reflected in the history of information management. Companies first began to capture paper content via scanning. This was followed by the creation of digital documents using tools such as WordPerfect. The desire to manage information in a better fashion lead to Work Flow Management and over time all these all became part of Electronic Document Management (EDM).  The introduction of the Internet and the Web lead to Web Content Management. Finally companies began to manage all information at the enterprise level. Organizations began using Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions that became the tool that would allow them to impose enterprise rules on unstructured content. Resulting in increased efficiency and effectiveness as organizations where able to locate processes and manage their information.

The evolution of how users approach their information has taken a different path. The existence of multiple information channels reflects the needs of the users who are also seeking to find and consume and collaborate on information. Often seeking the path of least resistance to information they seek. Users no longer only turn to their busy colleagues but also to the web and tools such as Google and web forums to provide content they need to complete their task.  In addition some users don’t share information within the organization but with their social network contributing to the changes in the path to knowledge. Just as enterprises impose rules on unstructured content, the users have imposed rules on collaboration.

I propose a solution approach which creates an environment that would allow users the freedom to collaborate in a way that reflects their needs and allow them to approach collaboration on their terms. Thus imposing user’s rules on the SharePoint environment which reflect the way users work. Key to the solution approach is the ability to impose enterprise rules on the output of the collaborative processes using a robust ECM solution such as Documentum to meet the needs of the enterprise. Ensuring items such as auditability, security, record retention and workflow drive efficiency and effectiveness within the organization while users are still able to locate processes and manage their information.

I think the topic needs a bit more detail, and I will try to expand this in the near future. Love to hear your thoughts!

Timm Scalf

Director

ECM and two worlds of content

October 13th, 2011 Comments off

ECM nowadays is a confusing area. On one hand we see that the adoption rates for solutions such as SharePoint that support users in collaborating and interacting rapidly growing. On the other hand it seems that a lot of traditional ECM projects seem to fail, costing way too much money while the acceptance of the final solution by the users is at a minimum. Customers seem to move away from ECM and go for a more free-format, easy access type of solution.

Traditionally ECM is focused on the value of content for the enterprise. Content is recorded, managed, maintained, approved or even phased out based on its importance towards the goals of the enterprise and the fulfillment of its obligations. Of course this also translates into the day-to-day business of the users in terms of capturing content, performing assessment and approval processes, managing records, etc. But mostly this is the world where content has to be managed, where its use has to adhere to strict rules and regulations, often enforced by entities outside of the enterprise. The focus here is primarily on the actual management of content in all its aspects. How users interact with this content is quite often a secondary concern.

Besides that there is also a whole different world of content. One where content roams freely, not limited by the boundaries of the enterprise. Where content is like a drop of water in the ocean, you can get it anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Where knowledge workers collaborate with each other and exchange content using a mobile device. Where information is found by quick and simple searching and is easily accessed and easily shared. Which also means that content that cannot be found simply is not there. The focus here is not just on the value of the content but also – and sometimes even more so – on the user experience: easy to create, find, use and share.

These are not disparate, disconnected worlds as content transitions from one world to another. Content such as an RFP that is the result of collaboration may be reviewed, approved and finally filed as a record. Managed content that describes best practices, solutions or design patterns is referenced during the collaboration process. When doing their job a user lives in both worlds. Or at least, they should be.

Currently at some point these two worlds collide. The content in the second world is a nightmare to manage. It is hard to determine its value, quality and ownership. It can be in small pieces or linked with other content. The content in the first world is a drag to work with. Archaic user interfaces and complex access mechanisms drive out any desire to search for and use content. Simple tasks take forever to perform instead of a single click.

Of course this is an exaggeration, but it is the reason a fair number of ECM projects fail. The user experience of traditional ECM systems has not kept up with the developments of the last five years. These systems are not geared towards supporting users who are collaborating and performing different tasks at the same time, using content from different sources. Users have become comfortable with user experiences that conform to the way they work; they turn away from having to work in a way that is dictated by the user interface.

But the systems that support the user’s collaboration and knowledge sharing tasks lack the ability to decently manage the content that is created. Because a lot of these systems grow organically – content and structure being added “as we go” – they run a high risk of ending up in chaos. Content can no longer be found or when found it is hard to decide what its status, quality and relevance is. Content stays largely unmanaged.

So where does that leave us? First of all we have to realize that content is everywhere and that it will always be created, stored and accessed in different environments. There will not be a single content management system but content management will be handled by different systems with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is the job of the ECM experts to join both worlds. To determine with the customer what content is managed by which system in which way. To integrate these systems so that when content transfers from one managed state to the next it may transfer to another system. And of course to ensure that all necessary content can be found and accessed from the environment that best supports the user in performing his job. In other words: a single content management solution based on a number of (hopefully best of breed) content management systems.

So there’s our challenge for future.

Jeroen Teeling

ECM Consultant

Categories: ECM Tags: ,

Documentum SharePoint integration

September 27th, 2011 Comments off

The Momentum 2010 session about SharePoint integration was on my list, because I’m currently working on an RFP where this is the major requirement. Some of the client’s requirements are pretty steep, so I was really looking forward to what’s in this product’s future.

Well, there was a lot of good news. The Documentum SharePoint integration products 6.6. versions will be released in a matter of weeks. My Documentum for SharePoint 6.6 will bring some more webparts and support for SharePoint 2010.

Repository Services for SharePoint 6.6 will provide a slightly different model from the previous version. Repository Services sits between the SharePoint UI and its storage in SQLServer. In the 6.5 version Repository Services would take the contents of any SharePoint documents and store the in Documentum, along with a copy of the meta data. In 6.6 the content is initially stored on a filesystem. A new journaling mechanism will then move the content from the filesystem into the Documentum repository batchwise.

There are 2 advantages to the journalling mechanic:

  • You can add business rules to the journalling, so for instance only documents with a certain status will be moved into the Documentum repository
  • It will improve SharePoint performance, since content retrieval from a filesystem is generally faster then from a docbase.

Disadvantage: an extra filesystem component to manage

There is a new product/developer option in this field: SDF (SharePoint Documentum Framework). This is a framework that EMC has been building and using in projects since 2007. There are already 40.000 people using this in production.

SDF is a customization framework that enables you to leverage most Documentum functionality from within a SharePoint site. It is based on DFSX, so it can use all the DFS webservices. Many have already been turned into SharePoint webparts, such as Browse, Search, Inbox, Query, WorkQueues, Records Management and IRM.

SDF also enables us to add custom menu items to SharePoint that can call DFS, or your own custom webservices. This can be configured using XML configuration files (it start to feel like WDK for SharePoint). SDF is also integrated with Sharepoint workflows. It adds an activity template that calls DFS a webservice, so you can add Documentum functions to your workflows. Lastly I saw a screenshot where a form built with FormsBuilder was displayed inside SharePoint, using picklists from Documentum. Very nice !

Thanks to Micheal Mohen for saving my RFP.

Keynotes at Momentum 2010

November 1st, 2010 Comments off

I just realized I promised Pie I would compare the keynotes at Momentum for him, since he couldn’t be there, so here’s a post about that.

There was some discussion before the opening keynote whether Mark Lewis was going to show up at all, since the rumor was that he had been promoted out of the way, but he was there giving the opening keynote. Rick Devenuti, the new EMC IIG Division chief presented the closing keynote.
There’s some good and bad in my comments, so if you like only the good things in life, you should skip the next paragraph.

The bad: I have to agree with Lee Smith, would concluded in an article about the keynote that a real ECM vision was lacking from Mark’s keynote. I understand that customers who had come to here about ECM were disappointed.

The good: if you’re willing to look beyond the above, then it wasn’t that bad at all. Mark had a lot more energy than in his keynote at EMC World last year. Last year he was explaining what a cloud was to us all and he really looked like Joe Tucci had personally made him do it. Now he was looking like he was telling his own story. One about the future of IT as he sees it. And he had some good points. for instance: Firewalls are no longer a usefull paradigm in the context of information security. More and more users are buying their own devices (iPads, Android phone, etc) and are expecting to be able to use them for private and business functions. With all these devices connecting to your business information in more and more diverse ways, firewalls are just not going to cut it, nor are VPN’s. That was a bit of an eye opener for me. Mark didn’t really present a solution though. I came up with IRM, but that comes from me, not him.

So, not at all compared to previous keynotes, but we know he’ll never be a presenter like Whitney.

Finally, a comparison with the keynote Rick Devenuti gave later that day. I’ll be brief. The good was the first part, where Rick spoke about the operational changes they’ve implemented in the previous year and the focus they’ve had on the quality of the product (refering to the 6.6 release that is mostly providing bug fixes and preformance/stability improvements). The rest of the speech just made me feel like I was hearing Mark last year. Uninspired and lacking any vision. Too bad.

Categories: Documentum Tags: , , ,

Documentum’s Future Architecture

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

I’ll start my first serious blog with the a recap of yesterday’s talk of the town: the architecture session by Jeroen van Rotterdam on Momentum 2010 in Lisbon. It started as a 45 minute session, but at the end Jeroen was not even half way through, so an extra session was scheduled at the end of the day and that also ran late. Jeroen can really speak with a passion about his life’s work.

This was by far the most interresting session of the day. Not only did it give a deep technical perspective of what Documentum will be like in a few years, to me it also provided a link between all the Cloud hype I’ve been hearing and why that should interrest me as a Documentum architect.

All this new technology is cool:

  •  We can finally have a Documentum system on-line 24×7 out-of- the-box;
  • Add processing as-you-go, no down time;
  • Application and even object type definition updates as-you-go;
  • Types and apps are versioned; you can run your old application for old data and start using the new version on new data;
  • Multi-tenant possiblities.

All this will be possible with the Next Generation Information Server (NGIS). It is a new product, built from the ground up to be used in multi-tenant cloud environments. It’s called Information Server for a reason. It’s usability goes beyond the ECM use case. It cannot manage just content, it will be used to handle any kind of information. It’s got flexibility written all over it. Get some new data, or extra customers? Just add some processing nodes and they will be served. Have a defective node? Some other nodes will take over its work. This thing is like the Internet: some part may go down, but as a whole it will never fail.

The DataModel consists of objects with Traits. Objects of itself are just empty shells with an object ID. All the rest is added with Traits. A Trait consists of some data, services and events. This provides a powerfull model for combining object data and the associated logic. Gone is dm_sysobject with all it’s 75 properties taking up your database space. If you want versioning, just add the Version trait. If you declare a record, add the Record trait (at run-time just like you do with Aspects today).

Data type definitions can be versioned, so you don’t need to take your application off-line to upgrade the type definition or logic.

If you ignore all the multi-tenant cloud stuff, there’s a lot there that my customers can use today (though mostly centered around availability and TCO). I’ve seen projects where a single deployment to production could take 2 weeks. With NGIS this will take minutes.

Application composition and deployment will be completely different from what we’re doing today, so I am expecting a big migration effort for current installations. That’s the kind of work I am expecting to be hired for.

A new day is dawning for Documentum and I like what I see on the cloudy horizon.

Categories: Documentum Tags: , , ,

SharePoint and Documentum competitors or partners in crime?

June 5th, 2010 Comments off

After a long but very interesting week of technical SharePoint sessions of devconn and the week before a long week of super sessions at Momentum it is time to make up my mind.
Should SharePoint and Documentum be seen as competitors or is the combination of the two a very good example of: the sum is greater than its parts.

1) Documentum: This is still the number one if you really want to control and manage your documents on an enterprise level (this has only little to do with technical scaling and high availability/failover) If you look for compliance support or need enterprise content management this is the best of the breed. Interfacing for knowledge workers who use word, excel project or PowerPoint is improved but still needs work to be accepted. The possibilities to really do collaboration or add social computing to your work environment is not possible.

2) SharePoint. With their new ribbon they are setting a new standard for interfacing with the desktop and editing applications like word, excel, project and also access, InfoPath and Visio. The possibilities of SharePoint to collaborate, use your personal social computing in a working environment, use tables and list to manage data (it does not matter if it is structured or unstructured) is the best ever. Creating good structure within your unstructured data, setting up clear version, enterprise security and content lifecycle management is difficult and still a long way of, of being enterprise ready. Workflow in SharePoint is still immature an if used widely unmanageable. Also setting up an enterprise ready solution in SharePoint is not possible to make it maintainable.

But the two combined: WOH,DOUBLE WOH. With the two integration modules of Documentum, the power of business process management, lifecycle management, records management and the new case management options seamlessly integrated with the interfacing and social computing power of SharePoint gives an enterprise finaly the possibility to create solutions with an exceptional good user experience and meet the current compliancy and enterprise demands.

But how will it work?

In my perfect (well let say a bit more perfect) information management world an enterprise will setup SharePoint in a small silo-ed approach. Technically it can be centralized, high avail etc.., but to make it functional maintainable you need to chunk in up in smaller functional pieces. In this users are able to really collaborate with the colleagues they work with. This interface will make the end-users happy and encourage them to make more use of ECM tools. Underneath this, your enterprise will need Documentum to guarantee a real enterprise and compliant ready solution. When documents/content needs to be managed on an enterprise level, according to rules and regulations, you can setup your SharePoint environment to automatically or manually declare a document controlled and make full use of the Documentum xCP and record management functions to suddenly control your documents on an enterprise level. All controlled and structured business processes will be fully managed by Documentum and depended on the type of worker you can offer them a full collaboration environment (A SharePoint interface to perform their controlled and uncontrolled tasks) or give them the focused and simple TaskSpace interface to perform standard controlled tasks. Last but not least for the real compliance/record freaks there is the record manager interface to maintain the filling plans, retention disposition, library functions, etc..

If you top this off with a Google search box to make real enterprise search (both structured and unstructured data alike) possible your ECM pie will be complete and tasty for everybody.

SharePoint the death of ECM?

May 25th, 2010 Comments off

After a full week of in-depth information about SharePoint 2010 at the devconn in Vegas it is time to try to structure my thoughts about it. As being a (almost) lifelong ECM architect and really happy with tools like Documentum and FileNet it is not easy not to be skeptic about SharePoint. Yes it is Microsoft and yes they threw a lot of money to it, but is MS able to make/copy a fully enterprise ready ECM solution within 3 years where others are trying already for 15 years or more.

The answer is like a lot of MS tools: yes and no:
Yes, SharePoint is by far the best interface to do any work on unstructured data.
No, SharePoint is not able to support an enterprise to maintain and control documents on an enterprise level.

Here are my results:

It was a developer conference so maybe I was in the wrong place for this, but I have not seen any presentation about how SharePoint is filling in the current ECM demand and vision. Everybody that I talked with or who presented where real experts on SharePoint and technical state of the art architects. The MPV’s of SharePoint really know their business. But when I start about how do you set up an enterprise architecture to support enterprise wide ECM it all boils down to creating technical workarounds or third party solutions to try to set your enterprise rules and regulations.
So SharePoint is the best tool to support collaboration in a workgroup environment where you in smal(ler) silo’s maintain your rules and work on the content.

It is interesting to see how all SharePoint experts except how good the interface of SharePoint actually is. When you are used to the interface of Documentum and suddenly are confronted with the SharePoint possibility to create lists, interact with Office, etc. you are stunned. All long time users really like the new interface but don’t see any more how much richer it is compared to a lot of others out there. The integration with Office to read or edit a document from within the office app is so easy and natural that people will really like to use it. The big yellow button in Word2010 to edit a document, the automated show of SharePoint properties in Word and the possibilities to change and use them within your documents are so good.

The possibility to create forms/lists from InfoPath is in 2010 very strong. This supports the no coding concept so much easier. You can customize a screen for a specific user role without very much technical skills or in-depth knowledge of SharePoint.

I was even more amazed how they set up the social computing options within SharePoint. One of the tough questions I get a lot is, how do I combine all the private social media that my workers use and the way they collaborate and share their knowledge, with the enterprise (controlled or semi-controlled) demands for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
In the new Sharepoint2010 options you are able to reuse all social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but control them on a company level (see the comments on the enterprise problems of SharePoint). This gives users a real ‘I can configure it how I like it’ idea but still be able to control it from a central view.

Now the technical architecture side of things: This is where I don’t understand what SharePoint is doing or which way they are going. Within a site most of the data is still maintained in one SQL table. The default option is still to store documents in RDBMS blobs and all is still limited to the size of that table. Site collections have a limit because of this. Setting up an enterprise solution within a global organization is impossible, distributed solutions are a mess and if I talk to the independent experts they advise you not to follow the guidelines of Microsoft and set up a sort of sitecollection in sitecollection approach. On paper this looks nice but gives you tons of limitations because the replication between sitecollections is limited. Besides the architecture I also see some risks in the enterprise management of the customizations. If you have multiple groups working on different projects within a SharePoint solution, they will have a huge challenge to maintaining their customizations and coding and be sure of the impact of any change. SharePoint customizations are really designed for small groups of (preferably 1) consultant(s) who talks with the users and builds their individual needs.

And then there was workflow. This has always been one of my markers. Giving a demo of workflow management is always easy and it always looks so good, but when the real thing comes in workflow, or even worse, business process management is not easy.
When a company wants to use real BPM it needs to be able to maintain the workflows on a corporate level. Things like orchestration and overall process monitoring is a minimal requirement. SharePoint talks about workflow and even the option of business process management, but the tool is way, way off to get this wright. Doing some basic document routing and some basic document approval is possible, but when you want to do any enterprise workflow it will be a lot of C# coding that kicks in. Having an overview of all the steps in one workflow is impossible let alone a whole orchestration of business processes. If within an organization a running workflow needs to be changed, defining the impact of the change can only be done by a programmer and probably only by the programmer that created the workflow in the first place. This is not the way you want to go.

Overall I am impressed by what functionality SharePoint has to offer when it comes to collaboration and user experience. They have set the new standard on how users will want to interact with systems that control their unstructured data. On an enterprise level using SharePoint is still tricky. You really need to define your architectural design up front and use a silo-ed approach of maintaining your data and customization. Otherwise you will end up with a mess or a not performing system. So yes SharePoint will challenge all other vendors to finally put way more effort in the user experience or die, and NO SharePoint is still a long long way off from being a competitor for real ECM solutions like Documentum or FileNet.

Combining the two worlds is still the best way forward.