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Poking the Documentum Bear

It came as no surprise to see, Bloomberg reporting that EMC is officially up for sale Wednesday.  It was a rumor even before Dell announced it was buying EMC.  Two months ago, I predicted an acquisition, not a spin-off.  I just don’t think the executive management team has the passion.  It’s going to take heart and passion.  For example, it’s the original founders are who are trying to bring back iManage.  But hold on!  Back up your dump truck.  It’s not the time to write Documentum’s obituary. 

As always, these are my personal opinions and not those of Big Men On Content (BMOC) as a whole, any other BMOC blogger, nor our affiliated companies.  This opinion has been formulated based on my years in the industry along with what I’ve seen or heard in the news.


EMC Never Got It

The concept that storage and content management don’t go hand in hand is short sighted.  In 2014, Alen Pelz-Sharp summarized it well why EMC and Documentum should part:

“We believe it’s time for EMC to divorce itself of IIG (now ECD), a product division that never really fit into EMC as a whole, and has continued to disappoint CEO Joe Tucci. There are two very good companies here, the storage and cloud giant EMC, and the business application wannabe IIG, aka Documentum. Both groups are trying to do the right thing, but find themselves pulling in different directions.”

EMC is always fully focused on selling new disk drive to customers.  If EMC saw Documentum as a risk to disk sales it was short sighted.  First off, content management is about centralizing the storage of content.  In order for network storage solutions to work, you first need content to come together.  Seems like a content management play to me.  The only thing Documentum might have challenged was desktop storage.  But EMC left the desktop in 2013  when they pushed IO Mega into its partnership with Lenovo.

Storage is cheap, but you would hope that customers try to keep only official records.  The Enron Scandal shined a light on hording emails.  One can assume that the Panama Papers will have the same affect on hording corporate documents.  (I’m talking about corporate policy here, not supporting corruption.)  Governance is a huge part of Big Data.  How content is handled in Big Data requires governance too.  Content management drives that governance.

Documentum Didn’t Get It Either

Documentum isn’t blameless either.  One would hope that what I said above was presented at some executive meeting.  Documentum never took the opportunity to look at what storage meant to content management.  In 13 years, the integration that Documentum has to EMC storage is no better than it has with any other network storage device.

Documentum also missed opportunities in moving basic library services to an EMC appliance.  In the meantime, Microsoft slowly released things like version control and file locking into the Windows operating system.  On the positive side, independence frees Documentum to support other non-EMC platforms like Microsoft’s Azure Cloud and Amazon Web Services.

So if Documentum does spin-off, it will be like waking a bear from hibernation.  It may be a little weak but you still wouldn’t want to run into it.  They still are “a” Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant not just “the” leader they were when bought by EMC.

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