As SharePoint continues to gain traction as a collaboration tool of choice, it is increasingly common for many of the organizations utilizing it as well as Documentum to struggle with how to get these two technologies to coexist. How can users seamlessly search and view content managed by Documentum from SharePoint sites? How can users contribute and actively manage (version, property updates, etc.) content in the Documentum repository from SharePoint sites? What about participation in other Documentum content processes like workflows from the SharePoint client?
The MyDocumentum for SharePoint (MDSP) product is the latest offering by EMC to address some of these common questions.
MyDocumentum for SharePoint (MDSP)
MDSP has a straightforward installation consisting of deployment of some SharePoint specific Documentum Foundation Services (DFS) libraries as well as a SharePoint install to deploy two Web Parts (Documentum Library and Documentum Search).
Once the install is complete, SharePoint administrators can deploy the MDSP Documentum Library and Documentum Search Web Parts. Once on a SharePoint site, end users interact with the Web Parts to access content management functionality:
- Documentum Library Web Part – the Documentum Library provides users with a cabinet/folder browse model. Users are presented with a listing of all cabinets they can access and drill down or up through the cabinets and folders. The Documentum Library also allows users to add documents, checkout/in, view document content and properties, edit properties, etc.
- Documentum Search Web Part – the Search component allows users to execute a simple search along the lines of the open search field in Webtop, or access an Advanced Search screen where more complex search queries can be constructed using a Webtop-like query builder interface. Results are presented on a Search Results screen and the same core content management tasks available from the Library component are also available for documents listed in the results.
User access to objects in Documentum from either of these Web Parts is still governed by Documentum security (ACLs) so no additional security setup is required on the SharePoint side. In addition, certain look-and-feel preferences for the Library Web Part can be configured at the SharePoint site level – items like which columns to display in folder lists, etc.
You can see a screencam of MDSP in action in the Learning Zone section of the TSG website.
What are the Benefits?
MDSP provides a straightforward way to expose content managed in Documentum to SharePoint users without bypassing Documentum control. Some of the nice features include:
- Ability to have multiple Web Parts on single sites – this allows for different views into one repository from a single page, or for different repositories to be accessible from one page (e.g., one Web Part point to the R & D repository and one to the Marketing repository).
- Users can add and work with Documentum content from SharePoint rather than Webtop or other unfamiliar interfaces –including support for some key features such as Data Dictionary values in dropdowns for property selection, etc.
- Communication to Documentum is through the DFS, meaning full support of underlying Documentum security, support for Business Object Framework (BOF) customizations, etc.
Overall MDSP does provide basic access to Documentum from SharePoint with minimal installation or configuration headaches.
What are the Concerns?
While the features provided by MDSP are nice, as mentioned they cover the basic functionality. Depending on the processes the business needs to support, there are still some features and potential problem spots which should be considered by all clients, including:
- Existing Interface Customizations – If your Documentum client (Webtop) has been customized at the WDK layer those customizations will not be delivered through MDSP. For example, many clients extend the Properties component in Webtop to conditionally make properties editable or read-only – customizations like this will not be reflected when properties are displayed from MDSP. Clients often extend the Webtop Search component as well to remove unnecessary fields, etc. – those updates will be missing when accessing the Search from MDSP.
- Missing Functionality – One of the big items still missing from MDSP is the ability to access the Documentum Inbox from SharePoint. At this point users would still need to use a core Documentum client to process inbox tasks, electronically sign documents, etc. Other missing components include:
- Performance – While routing all SharePoint to Documentum communication through DFS is great from an architectural perspective it can cause concerns with performance. Clients will need to make sure the DFS installation used by SharePoint is on an adequately sized server. It seems likely additional performance tuning will be needed in production implementations.
- Ability to Extend/Configure/Customize – Right now the only options here are the preferences that MDSP allows administrators to set at the SharePoint site level with no development environment support. There is no publicly available documentation on how to modify or update the MSDP Web Parts so, for the most part, what you see is what you have to live with.
- Cost – MDSP is a separate purchase and is not covered as part of a Webtop or other purchase. Pricing will differ based on client and volume so clients will have to evaluate the business benefits.
MDSP does work and delivers basic functionality well, but determining whether it makes sense for implementation will definitely depend on the targeted business processes. If users only require basic repository browsing or search and a quick way to contribute documents, it may certainly meet the need. But as more advanced features like workflow or specifically tailored interface screens are required or desired, the current limitations may require a look into other means of integration between Documentum and SharePoint.
If you are interested in a customized approach, TSG has done some customized approaches for similar functionality that is available as Open Source. Please review under the SharePoint section of our website.
If you have any questions or thoughts about integrating Documentum and SharePoint in your environment, please attach a comment.