First Take – Leaping Across the Horizon

Yesterday at EMC World Rohit Ghai announced the official name for the much talked about project horizon. I’ve had many tongue in cheek conversations about Horizon as a name. The problem with it was that you can never actually get there. By definition the horizon is beyond reach. With this launch ECD leaps to the destination. (pun intended)  This is more than changing backgrounds and logos. This event represents a transition. Moving from one phase to the next in an effort to bring transformational enterprise content management to the market place.

Last month in Madrid I was challenged to explain this strategy to a group of partners. Exactly what is ECD doing and how does it affect them?

What is ECD Doing in Three Words

  • Applications
  • Platform
  • Marketplace

Everything else is an extension of these three ideas. Resist the urge to make it more complicated.

Today ECD announced the timing for availability of a set of apps. These are content oriented products, delivered on the cloud and designed to solve very specific problems. Each includes a well defined collection of features that can be sold individually and that add value on their own. These same apps can coexist and work with others to complete a use case. They be integrated into partner and customer solutions both inside and outside the Leap Platform.

Secondly, LEAP will soon launch platform services. These services are the foundation for the apps we just announced. The idea obviously being that partners can develop their own solutions on this same environment.

Lastly LEAP will next year launch a marketplace to add the infrastructure to buy and sell new offerings delivered on the platform. A common mechanism to monetize the products developed on the platform.

If you want to read a description of the apps themselves  has good overview here. Her commentary on the effect and futures of the rest of the portfolio is interesting though I have some different takes on things. I will address that in a separate post.

What Does Leap Mean To Partners?

There are many details around go to market and pricing forthcoming but I want to focus on the broader questions. For the ECD partner ecosystem, Leap is a NEW opportunity not a wholesale replacement for what they do today. Leap represents a way to solve many of the same problems we have dealt with in ECM but without the barriers implicit in traditional monolithic approaches.

In order to write for the cloud the convention holds you should strive to create an app with the least amount of features to be functionally valuable and remain economically viable (minimally featured app). The opposite end of that spectrum would then be to take a platform that does everything you would ever need and make it available on the cloud. In my opinion, if what you want is Documentum’s content server’s api running unaltered in a pure multi-tenant cloud then not only are you violating this principle, you misunderstand the opportunity in front of us.

From a solutions perspective, most ECM problem solving has started with a mature platform baseline of features and then filtering to fit the use case. The minimal feature set basically included everything you might ever want to do in the install. Inevitably the solutions were always much more feature rich than they needed to be to solve a given problem.

Interestingly, most of the cloud first competitors in the ECM space may have started with the principle of the minimally viable app in execution but quickly moved both in marketing and development to chase parity with the on prem feature set and messaging. Despite having platform talking points they stayed in the box  implementing minimally featured but monolithic core user experiences.

As a solution architect, the most basic task is to decompose a business problem into units of work that can solved with technology and determine the most efficient and scalable implementation. Add to that now, as a partner and business owner the dimension of monetization. Is this unit of work valuable in isolation and is it something that customers might want to implement without dragging the rest of the platform into the transaction.

We have the opportunity with LEAP to rethink scenarios like distributed capture, last mile collaboration, approval, etc. and implement them for customers discreetly regardless of the current state of an internal infrastructure. This frees up businesses to react to the changes and challenges like those associated with mobility, distributed workforce, incremental process improvement and regulatory change without necessarily rebuilding or rehosting and altering the system of record for everything in the process.

Sync and Share and other discreet capabilities like remote signature capture demonstrated the customers desire to acquire and extend their existing as well as new initiatives in this componentized (appified) way. LEAP will make that possible with advanced content oriented service capabilities without forcing one repository or another.

For the existing Documentum oriented partners then, this is the better together story. For an entirely new ecosystem of cloud first innovators it is a new accelerator to extend into the enterprise.

There is a great deal to consider here as we take a step down into the next level of impact. Namely the developer/consultant roles. I will deal with that in a later post but clearly the message to me is that this is very much an expansion of the possible market and service opportunities for partners to grow new business from the core relationships and skills they have with the portfolio.

Disclaimer: I am an employee of EMC but these are my own opinions and observations.

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