This post will discuss xCP – Documentum xCelerated Composition Platform as presented at Momentum 2010 – Lisbon.
Case Management and xCP
The bulk of the first half of the numerous xCP sessions I reviewed fall into a consistent rhythm in explaining xCP. Flow is as follows.
1) What is the problem – Typically the presentations begin with an example of the cost of a mistake – 3 billion pounds for fraud and error of a public entity paying out benefits seems to be a dominant discussion point.
2) Define Case Management – Typical presentations present examples of case management – claims management and loan processing are common examples. One presentation described a case as “a collection of structured and unstructured information, processes and interactions that need to be orchestrated to make the optimal business decision”
3) Introduction of xCP – A New Standard for Application Development. Have also seen it defined as “A New Standard for Intelligent Case Management”. Includes reusable components, composition tools, xCelerators and Community.
From a review of the different presentations, it is clear that Documentum has made significant progress in evolving xCP through multiple client efforts. While all of the xCP presentations were led by Product Managers or EMC Professional Services, the multiple client examples seem to illustrate the success of xCP. In regards to experienced Documentum users, we see xCP use in two ways.
1) New application – if pricing and development team are in sync, users are looking for proof of concept for xCP. Thoughts are, if we are developing something new, why not use the latest and greatest from Documentum?
2) Existing application – this is the tougher user group for xCP. If a client has either an existing Webtop or Custom Application that sounds like it could fit into xCP, should I move that way? What is the effort? What are the limitations of the platform? How many others have done this before?
The existing application folks are the struggle for EMC World and Momentum events. When you consider that most attendees have been using Documentum for some time, their sensitivity to a repackaged WDK tool should be taken into account. Many have seen Whitney’s insurance claim/BPM demo in previous events and can look skeptically at Task Space or Forms or other tools that they have seen in the past.
Existing Client’s Need to See it Work
The tough part with virtual Momentum is only recording and screen shots were available. One of the presenters apologized for not being able to show the demos. We haven’t gotten to the point yet that shows a client moving from one application (Custom or Webtop) to xCP to motivate these existing clients. Presentation should go something like this:
1) Application built with X tool/Webtop – here is the interface
2) Need new approach – too much custom code, changing business process, no flexibility – need a better approach
3) Did a POC on xCP
4) EMC worked with us on pricing and deployment to create business value – moved to production
5) Here are the benefits – system has been great
Now we understand that Documentum is not positioning xCP as a replacement for Webtop but many customers have either used Webtop or built custom applications for case management applications. It would be great to actually see the application in production versus screen shots. Users need to see the speed and performance as many, burned by slow applications in the past, can be somewhat skeptical when it comes to vendor promises of performance.
The presentations at Momentum didn’t really include the above scenario and, without the ability to see more than screen shots, hard to judge specific implementations.
Community Devleopment, xCelerators and xCP Challenge
An interesting switch announced during Momentum was the xCP xCelerator Challenge that will continue until Dec 31st. Good YouTube video posted here:
More info in regards to the community web site for xCP development is here:
We (TSG) are excited by EMC engaging the Documentum community to develop more templates. Currently the EMC Developer site provides the following xCelerators from EMC:
|Grants Management||The Grants Management sample application illustrates the use of xCP to configure a case management application. Whether using it as a starting point for Grants or any solution based on xCP, it is comprised of many useful, reusable design patterns and demonstrates how xCP implements those patterns through configurable components rather than custom coding.|
|Courts Case Management||These assets should be used by a business analyst to provoke ideas, discussions, and to get one started in the right direction during the requirements and design phases of judicial case management solutions.|
|TaskSpace Advanced Search||The xCP TaskSpace Advanced Search xCelerator substantially decreases the amount of time required to integrate advanced search capabilities into TaskSpace. It integrates the Webtop Advanced Search and Federated Search into TaskSpace and returns your search results in a more user-friendly interface.|
|Custom Activity Templates||Activity Templates allow process designers to configure activities for use in their process. The five new activity templates featured in this xCelerator are Advanced XML Transform, Copy Object, Deep Export, Is Document Checked In?, and Generate Number.|
|xCP Forms Adapters||The xCP Forms Adaptors xCelerator provides a set of form adaptors complementing the built-in adaptors in Forms Builder with additional, commonly used functionality.|
|xCP Calendar xCelerator||The xCP Calendar xCelerator provides a graphical calendar user interface that can be used in an xCP application, primarily from within TaskSpace or a process.|
It will be interesting to see how additional xCelerators are added from the challenge and if Documentum embraces the community development opportunities.
TSG Concluding Thoughts
From our presentation at the user group meeting, some concluding thoughts from TSG on xCP.
The promise of xCP includes:
- No Java Coding
- No XML Config file extending, editing
- No DQL, API’s, scripts, etc.
- Do not even have to worry about packaging (no war file)
- Easy to configure role or process-based UI screens
- Different task lists for different users, report screens, etc.
- Different search screens
- Compared to traditional (webtop), very straightforward
Does enable rapid development and deployment
- With basic knowledge of the tools it is quick to build solutions
- No way the demo solution would have been constructed as quickly with traditional client like Webtop
Lots of functionality available
- Lots of integration capabilities with BPM
- SOA so interaction with other systems
- The other core ECM functions
- Collaboration (discussion threads, etc.)
- Archive, RPS, etc.
Templates and samples hold a lot of possibilities
- Reporting dashlets used across applications
- UI screens which can be re-used
- xCelerator templates (e.g., Grants Management) to jumpstart and give ideas
There is a learning curve to get up to speed with how all the tools work and what they offer
- Training available
- Quick and straightforward once you are over the curve
Determine where it would fit, what processes, etc.
- Include evaluation of whether customizations would be needed
- Will want to visit the overall ECM architecture, strategy, and plan (roles, app deployment, etc.
- There are additional products required if you do not already license the components
Should be additional solution templates (xCelerators) coming to help jumpstart specific processes
Concerns about xCP include:
Locks in to a proprietary model for applications
- What does the future hold? How will upgrades be handled? Hard to reconcile proprietary environment with “standard”
What if I need to go beyond out-of-the-box?
- Hard to do a lot since it is driven by Forms Builder, etc.
- Still looking into how to integrate – could launch an external application but not sure on adding a lot of functionality to individual pages within the application
- Example –search where a specific clause was appended to each search…
Keep talking about “templates” but hard to see how there would be a one size fits all template for these types of applications
Seems like managing the application, changes, etc. might be difficult for Enterprise Applications
- How to move from environments
- How to rollout changes or rollback changes
- Performance, scalability, etc.
Bundled pricing and affect on types of applications
WDK based solution moving to DFS in 2nd half of 2011 – promise to be backward compatible but DFS updates are a major change
In regards to the concerns above, we would think most of the technical concerns will be addressed in the upcoming 2011 release.