EMC announced in a single press release two very different but equally significant things this week.
First, the Case Managment Solution Framework is the first in a what promises to be a list of bundles of Documentum software configured and customized around a horizontal content capability. Man that’s a really long sentence. Bottom line, it says if you need case management “Start Here.” From this starting point you build vertical applications that depend on case management ideas.
We did a really smart thing with this release though. The framework is being released with what a reference application (Grants Management) that could theoretically be used on its own, but more importantly demonstrates how to use capability and extension points the framework provides. A tremendous amount of work went into making extension of the framework as straightforward as possible. I personally haven’t written an original line of code in 8 years so if I have something to start with it goes a long way to making me more productive. I have high hopes for this as an accelerator in the field but more importantly as a way for customers to get the “goodie” out of the Documentum platform faster.
I really wish this had been two press releases because I am concerned about the Application Xtender announcement being lost in the case management hoopla. I have to confess – I wrote off AppXtender awhile ago. To be terribly honest – I developed a unix/java superiority complex several years ago and I am still in recovery. When it comes to this product line I have rediscovered the trite yet true phrase “right tool for the job.”
Documentum is complex. (I can hear you collectively saying duh from here) It is also incredibly scalable, flexible and powerful. If it were a superhero Documentum would lead the Justice League. That being said – it is not, nor has it ever been the right tool for every size content management problem. AppXtender was part of the EMC Legato acquisition that predated the Documentum one. For many of the Documentum eggheads (myself included) it never really registered. I spent a few minutes looking at it early on and decided that the “one platform to rule them all” approach I grew up with would suffice.
Well pragmatism, experience and market forces have led us all to a better understanding of how to solve these problems and sometimes bigger is just not better. Especially when you are in a small company on a tight budget. SharePoint has certainly proved that but it is still not an effective content management platform – ITS A PORTAL. AppXtender however has a surprising install base in the SMB and local government space. I haven’t spent a good deal of time researching this point but since the AppXtender numbers are embedded with the larger Documentum evaluation in the analyst views its hard to see that AppXtender is a strong competitor to many of the other players.
Recognizing the shift in the economics and market opportunities, EMC has invested in updating the suite. Most notably the integration of a workflow capability (with SharePoint hooks!) that is superior in many respects to its direct competition – Hyland and to a lesser degree Open Text. I am going to be spending more time this year expanding both my knowledge on the suite and it capabilities and sharing that information here as I learn. Until then, if you have departmental problems to solve and don’t already have an enterprise ECM strategy them this suite is well worth your time to investigate.