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The Momentum 2011 Perspective on EMC Documentum in Q3/2012

November 7th, 2011 Comments off

Current state

The 2011 Momentum has reached its end. In 12 months from now, we’ll meet again in Vienna.

When we do meet in Vienna, the Documentum world will have changed. Documentum D7 and xCP 2.0 will be generally available. C6’s D2 (maybe even X3) will be the configurable alternative to Webtop. EMC OnDemand will be running for many months all over the world. Developers, partners, deliver vApp solutions to run in both the private and hybrid cloud. Next to it will be SharePoint and Office 2013. Both running on premise and in the cloud (Office 365 or otherwise).

Off course, still a lot can happen in between, but let’s assume that nothing does.

What are partners going to do with this knowledge? What will the customer do with this knowledge?

Will they change their way forward? Will they behave like any mother and father to-be, when they learn that they are pregnant of a beautiful baby in 9 months from now? Will they start preparing for the delivery of this new-born?

I think partners will. For successful partners, adopting to change is part of their DNA.

But what will the customer do? Will she change and if so how?
I believe she will. I believe she has to.

The ECM world is changing rapidly. The business never stopped changing. Competition continues to find ways to close gaps and take leads. Not less important, demands from new joiners in your company are rapidly changing. It’s nearing the point that you want to work with them rather than that they want to work for you.

However, how she’ll change will depend upon her current state related to her ECM vision and ambition.

Several scenarios are possible and include common scenarios like “Continue as is”, or “Technical ‘as-is’ upgrade”.

One particular scenario that could happen is the scenario what I would like to call “re-think & re-do”.

The “re-think & re-do” scenario is an appealing scenario. It can be a game changer. It applies lessons learned, leverages new functionality, and re-implements the requirements in the new target environment.

The soccer analogy of “re-think & re-do”

There is a great analogy to be made with sports. Especially team sports. Let’s take soccer.

Winning the National league, the European Champions League, and the World Cup for Teams are goals for the top teams. Many want it, few get it.

The easy road of buying 25 of the best players doesn’t get you there. Many tried, none succeeded(1).
Building a winning team is a carefully designed growth path that takes effort and time.

On this route, every now and then a player gets injured for a longer time, leading to adjustments in the process. Patches are applied.
Sometimes players get better offers elsewhere and new players have to be bought or incorporated from youth teams, the labs. Sort of a Service Pack is applied.
And then success is there. The team is on a winning streak.

After some time the successes diminish. Competing teams catch up. The common game-play changes. The players on the team are over the hill, nearing their sports technical end of life.
At this point the team manager has to make decisions.

A common decision is that they accept the absence on the prime stage for a year and rebuild the team from scratch.

Where in the previous period, patches and service packs have been used to continue, this time a new major release is needed.

You see this happening in many of the Olympic team-sports (field hockey, volleyball) in the post-Olympic year. The next World Championships are typically 2 years away, the next Olympics 4 years. Enough time to re-do the team and go for success at the next major event.

The good thing about building a new team, a new major release for future success, is that it allows the team manager to apply the lessons learned from the previews period (re-think) as well as to recover from unwanted side effects that come with patches and service packs (re-do).

The lessons learned can be in many different forms. As an example:

  • The game-play may have shifted from physical to tactical and thus new requirements apply.
  • The common positioning on the midfield may have changed from 3 players on one line to 4 that are positioned in a diamond shape. In essence the functional team design is changed.

Also the side effects come in different forms with examples like:

  • Due to the absence of left-footed wingers, a right-footed player has become the left-winger.
  • The youngster, replacing a player that has left, is not performing consistently.

Taking these lessons learned as well as side effects into account, a new design is created to succeed in future success and the new journey begins.

The EMC reality

The process illustrated above for soccer, can be applied to Enterprise Content Management solutions like Documentum. There too, patches and service packs are applied until you reach the point where you have to re-think what to do with a next major release.

Given the announced release of Documentum 7 / xCP 2, the adoption of C6’s D2 user interface, the availability of Documentum in the Cloud (OnDemand), and also the omnipresence of SharePoint fits, the point of re-think and re-do has arrived. The time is here and now. Too much is and will change to continue as if it’s still the same.

This is a far from easy task and is highly dependent on the unique settings of the customer.

It takes time. It takes careful considerations. It needs a free spirit to not limit yourself to budget, resource, calendar, or any other constraint yet. It takes guts in a budget constraint business to acknowledge that maybe with the new facilities, something better, cheaper, more flexible, and more future proof is possible and that now is the time to find out. It requires expertise to take it to the extreme on paper and see what it brings, to think out of the box.

Because even finding out requires budget, some arguments to help you build the business case are given below.

EMC OnDemand

    • Supported by certified professionals on behalf of EMC; No need to invest in company resources.
    • Off premise in the cloud or locked down ‘all-in’ box on premise; No need to purchase hardware.
    • Sizing for average load with on demand resource expansion to handle peak loads; no need to invest in hardware that can cope with peak loads that occur only once a week.
    • Optimum module architecture through xMS, the requirement-based configuration descriptions that are used to generated the required virtual servers.

SharePoint

    • SharePoint is the users choice for collaboration and “work in progress” content management.
      Leverages the dominance of MS Office on the desktop and the user acceptance that comes with it.
    • SharePoint doesn’t (yet) provide the appropriate means to cover all enterprise needs, but SDF(2) is there to rescue. SDF, the SharePoint – Documentum Framework provides optimal bi-directional integration with Documentum to cover the enterprise needs.

C6’s D2

    • Reduce cost of customizations of Webtop by leveraging the configurable user interface that D2 delivers.
    • Replace Webtop with a much more tailored and applicable interface for those users that need functionality that is not provided through SharePoint or xCP applications.
    • Increase user acceptance with the appealing skinnable interface that D2 provides.

Documentum D7 / xCP2

    • Leverage the new deployment model that uses vApps.
    • Leverage the ability to reverse patches if the outcome has unwanted side-effects
    • Leverage the vast amount of documented functional patterns and solutions to build xCP applications.
    • Leverage the growing number of xCelerators to reduce implementation time and effort.

Non-technical

    • Replace old school designs and include lessons learned of the current implementation.
    • Start supporting the Knowledge Worker; Make it goal-driven and reduce the rigidness of traditional workflows.
    • Prevent the typical chaos that uncontrolled, non-governed SharePoint environments tend to create.
    • Take a controlled route towards the cloud by using on premise cloud technology.

Conclusion

I believe it’s here and now that you have the opportunity to re-think what your Documentum centric solutions add to your business and re-do them using Documentum & xCP through EMC OnDemand and integrate them with SharePoint through SDF.

If the signs are right, we’re expecting a beautiful baby somewhere in the late summer of 2012.
But, we have to work for that. It will not come easy.

The above mentioned arguments are not meant to be complete or generically applicable; further discussion is needed to incorporate the specifics of your organisation. That first step is yours. I’m sure you can do it!

 

Ed Steenhoek
ECM Solution Principal


 

  1. While writing this post, I was thinking about Manchester City. A soccer team where huge investments have been made in recent years but yet without success. However, after reviewing this post, it dawned to me that it is also applicable to Oracle. Oracle has been purchasing ECM technologies and companies but still doesn’t deliver a clear package that delivers success on its own – that is without cross selling from e.g. Siebel or the Oracle RDBMS – that matches the investments made.
  2. Implementing SDF requires a specialism that is provided through EMC Professional Services or directly from selected partners. Informed Consulting is proud to be that partner for EMEA.

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

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.

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.

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