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EMC Documentum’s OEM Platform

At EMC World, the OEM edition of Documentum was unveiled, Content Services OEM.  The presentation showed that EMC understands that an OEM program is made up of the platform, support, and marketing.  Unfortunately what they developed for CS didn’t quite meet the standards that they themselves announced.  But there are ways to work around their weaknesses, and it’s the first fully announced OEM ECM platform with access to a good lead engine.

Platform = B
The platform that EMC is bringing to the table is admirable.  The base architecture can meet most needs of the OEM community.  The system is designed to support a single site with 500 users and over 10 million documents.  The entire installation fits on one server requiring only 2-4 gigs of memory and there are minimal inputs required in the installation, there are no administration requirements, and the database is self tuning.  Most typical integrations to other line of business applications and simple content management applications (SCMA?) can easily be developed with the platform.

Unfortunately there is no UI included.  The opinion is that the vendor would comply develop their own front end for their applications.  While this would be true in cases like integrations to line of business applications, it misses the opportunity to set a standard for simple content management applications (SCMA).  The Magellan front end would be great for SCMA.

The platform is also it’s own branch of the code line.  The branch used for the OEM platform was based on the 5.5 release.  This means that as the Documentum platform continues to grow, changes will be needed in both lines to continue with parity.  They actually felt that it was better to do so as the OEM release would include features that no one using the regular platform would want.  Personally, I feel every customer would want the ability for zero administration and a self-tuning database, but it appears that neither will make their way into the standard platform. 

The separate platform also means that those vendors looking to take advantage of a customer’s existing Documentum environment need to think ahead.  The OEM edition uses an open source database and search engine and this may mean that customer will want to go with their existing platform instead of adding an OEM instance to their environment.  This means that it’s probably best to first develop on a standard instance of Documentum and then port the application to the OEM platform. 

Support = D
Support was mentioned at the beginning of the presentation as a very important part of any OEM solution, unfortunately when it came to the Content Services OEM they felt there was nothing left to improve.  While I have a huge amount of respect for the 3rd and 4th lines of traditional Documentum support and their dedicated support is superb, it’s the front line that is see a problem with especially for an OEM edition.

Those of us that have been developing Documentum applications for some time know that there are words you never use when on the phone with Documentum support.  Those are: “customized”, “configured”, “changed”, “code”, and anything involving a minor release number.  Using those words immediately gets, “I’m sorry but we don’t support customized installations” and the phone goes dead.  But with an OEM solution especially one with no UI or reference application this means you are basically on your own at the start.

Now this does not mean you are dead on arrival.  First, if you already have a Documentum Guru in house you probably won’t need to call support and if you do they probably know how to get past all the gate keepers to get to the support needed.  But EMC also has an answer, sign up for dedicated support.  Now this may not be a bad way to go, especially if you can get the right margins defined.  But I say hire an experienced developer that can be your Documentum Guru.

Marketing = A
Probably the biggest change to the original OEM release was the recognition that marketing was missing.  Most vendors see OEM as the opportunity to work with EMC and gain access to the existing Documentum customer base.  The first iteration of the OEM edition not only had no access to existing customers but seemed to be focused on new customers exclusively.  This all changes with the new strategy.

EMC announced the EMC Inside program.  EMC Inside is a marketing program focused on bringing attention to applications that have built their solution on an EMC OEM platform (not just the Content Services OEM).  Vendors are able to have their solutions listed on the site and include VMWare working trial copies of their applications.  This trials are timed and the clock is automatically set at download.  EMC also lets the vendor know which customers are downloading applications so that they can follow up with the customer directly.

This is an incredible leads engine from EMC and it appears to be the only one of its kind in the entire ECM space.  The visibility that EMC Inside will have to all of the existing customers tied to tracked downloads means that there are solid prospects for your sales teams.  While it will not eliminate the need for your own lead sources and demand generation programs it does mean that you start with access to a solid collection of candidates. 

A Little Better than Average
First to re-emphasize an earlier opinion about the conference in general, the session was held only once and at a time when the booths were open.  This meant that those mostly likely to be interested in this session couldn’t attend and be in their booth they spent $25k on.  Why sessions targeted towards partners were not held before the booth were opened was beyond me.  The partner community was incredibly underrepresented at the session and this is the big reason I wrote this article. 

But overall, EMC has a solid understanding of what OEM means they just need to deliver on the whole picture.  They have a solid start on the platform and with some minor changes it could be much better.  And while a great amount of energy is spent on the marketing of completed OEM solutions, no thought was given to support.  This means that vendors new to Documentum need to expect some ramp up time that they will need to develop themselves.  But for those already familiar with the platform, the marketing program makes it all worthwhile.

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