Most of TSG’s Documentum and Alfresco clients are evaluating Sharepoint as a portal to ECM or to satisfy some of their ECM needs. While TSG has always provided Sharepoint connectivity to ECM with OpenMigrate, ActiveWizard and OpenContent as demonstrated in the links below,
many of our clients are asking “Hey, why not just use SharePoint instead?” One recent client just finished an effort leveraging Sharepoint for ECM. For this blog entry, I thought I would share some lessons learned as well as dispel some of the Microsoft Myths:
- Myth #1 – Personal ECM – Much of SharePoint’s success is due to the easy nature of setting up a personal library or group space for collaboration. As with Documentum’s eRoom product, this is typically a collaborative environment that empowers users to do something “fast” to share documents. Is this really ECM? Typical ECM customers have enterprise goals in regards to consistent taxonomy, security and indexing that a “quick and dirty” SharePoint library will not meet.
- Myth #2 – Microsoft can Scale – For our client, SharePoint broke down and required additional indexing somewhere in the 5,000 to 10,000 document range both for performance and user navigation. For most of our clients, 5 to 10 thousand documents is typically just a portion of their enterprise repositories.
- Myth #3 – Market Share is important in the decision process – The logic would follow that large vendors are in a better position to offer a better product and long-term decision as compared to smaller, more niche driven vendors. Microsoft, as a huge vendor with a dominant client base, would seem to be positioned as the best ECM solution. Decision makers should keep in mind that much of the success of Microsoft SharePoint has been in the extension of Microsoft Office/Outlook and focused on collaboration, not necessarily in true ECM. Does the number of installed seats of a product really mean anything if it is not being used for ECM and just for collaboration?
- Myth #4 – Microsoft is Open – While it is easy to say that other document types can be stored in Microsoft (PDF for one), it should not be confused with the fact that Microsoft tends to lean toward their own products. For example, many of our clients store Word Documents but have renditions available in PDF. SharePoint doesn’t support this “out of the box” as with Documentum. In regards to futures, we would anticipate that Microsoft would continue to support their products first (Microsoft Mobile versus iPhone/Android) as the platform evolves.
- Myth #5 – Microsoft back-end is “free” –Many times, initial use of SharePoint is because the client got it “free” with Windows Server. It is important to understand that SharePoint is dependent and will always be dependent on a Microsoft back-end which will have a cost for true ECM implementations. In particular, it is important to understand which items Microsoft will never support giving their “franchise” of Windows and Office and the cost implications including:
- Linux Support (will always be Windows Server)
- Database Support (will always be SQL Server)
- Development Support (will always be .Net and not Java or other technologies)
- Complete support for non-Microsoft formats (PDF and XML as examples). Will always have a preference to leverage Microsoft Office products and platforms.
If you have any comments/stories that either support the above or differ, please add a comment below. Keep in mind that we are not saying SharePoint can’t be used for ECM, just hoping to share our thoughts on how ECM differs between collaboration tools like SharePoint and ECM tools like Documentum and Alfresco.