Back on November 1st, 2011, EMC/Documentum announced an exclusive licensing agreement with C6, a French Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software provider and long-time partner. Over the holidays a webinar was held that included a live demo of the tool. For this post, we will present our initial thoughts on the product for those evaluating use of D2 in their Documentum environment.
Update Feb 20th, 2012- comparison of D2 with other Documentum alternatives.
Documentum D2 – Some Positive Thoughts
The main theme of the webcast was “configuration not code” and the “new face of Documentum”. Documentum D2 has been built with the idea of being able to update many common actions through a configuration screen. In some cases, these are standard Documentum functions (attributes) in other cases they are specific only to D2 (lifecyle and PDF manipulation are different for D2 then for normal Documentum). One really nice point, configuration changes can be made without an application restart – something that is not supported in most of the other Documentum tools.
Overall the interface is very robust and, from an initial review, supports most of the functions users are used to from Webtop or other robust authoring interfaces from Documentum. We particularly liked the import functionality where, upon import of a document, the user was prompted for the configured attributes and the document was auto-named and filed in the correct folder/subfolder based on those attributes.
The interface appeared to function fairly quickly and, for those authors used to internet explorer, had a somewhat consistent look and feel.
Documentum D2 – Some concerns
We saw one slide from Momentum Berlin that suggested that Documentum D2 would replace eRoom and CenterStage. From our review, it is difficult to see D2 as a collaboration platform rather than a replacement for Webtop. Our major concerns focus on what we don’t know about D2. These include:
- Where has it been successful? – the webcast mentions a company that has 800+ configurations but doesn’t mention the company name. We are used to Documentum presenting the logo slide with all the folks that have successfully implemented the solution. Without the logo slide at all, it leaves us wondering just how many clients have deployed it successfully. In looking at the website , we only saw minor industry examples and, from discussions with others, have a strong feeling that D2 has only been successful in Europe. Maybe future webinars could have more relevant client case studies.
- Pricing – From all initial reviews, this would appear to be a new product with a D2 Premium available for power users as well as a D2 +Pack add-on utility for Office and PDF Documents. For clients that have bought Webtop, would this be another purchase? Our initial thoughts are pricing will be something like the older Webtop price but with no upgrade available. We would think that, given a new purchase price along with similar functionality, existing webtop users would not consider D2 as a replacement.
- Who maintains it and supports it? – Without knowing the licensing agreement, did the engineers that developed the solution stay involved when the solution needs to be enhanced? For the product to be adequately maintained and enhanced, we would like to see the resource pool for engineering.
- Internet Explorer Only – from the D2 website , the application is only supported on Internet Explorer. With so many of our clients looking for support for other browsers and Mac, we would like to know the plans for other browser and Operating System support.
- Consumer Search – While the host of the webcast talks about “most people just want to search and retrieve”, D2 is clearly an authoring platform just like Webtop. Also, the search interface has a very similar look and feel to “building a search” just like Webtop. We have talked about this multiple times – a consumer doesn’t want and typically shouldn’t be exposed to all the complexity of an authoring tool. See our whitepaper for additional detail on a consumer interface as well as thoughts on Mobile, what we think is the future of consumer based search.
- Separate lifecycle engine – since D2 utilizes a lifecycle engine outside the normal Documentum repository, we have concerns about data integrity as well as the configuration-only approach. If a document is accessed from Webtop or another client tool (checkout/in, promote/demote, etc) triggering a lifecycle action or TBO code to run, there could be data integrity issues between those actions and the D6 lifecycle. Also, many of our clients rely heavily on Lifecycle code, especially in approval workflows. It’s tough to imagine that the lifecycle actions that our clients request can be achieved only through configurations in D2.
- Robust versus simple – There is a big difference between robust and simple. D2 is definitely robust but our concerns with these types of complex interfaces is it leaves users with the ability to easily get confused or make a mistake, both items that lead to dissatisfaction with Documentum systems. Most of our customizations in Webtop have always been to remove functions to prevent mistakes.
- Never Code Concerns – Lastly, the push by Documentum to “never code” might be appealing in a sales process but, as just mentioned, some code can simplify common functions and prevent user mistakes. For example, we typically see the need to simplify and prevent mistakes during the approval process as many tasks are not simply an “Approve” or “Reject”. Things like multi-doc approval, packet approval, task delegation, and reassignment are specific for the business process and difficult to configure given different roles. Small amounts of code are helpful here and we saw no way to even add small amounts to D2. We haven’t seen many clients be successful with a “never code” approach.
For some items, it was hard to label these as concerns but rather unknowns. These included:
- What are the infrastructure components – will it co-exist in our current Documentum architectures?
- Simple Workflow – demo mentions simple workflow but, what about more complex workflows? Is there integration with BPM?
- Will existing DCTM implementations and taxonomies be able to fit into D2 easily?
- Has there been volume/performance testing? Demo seemed geared to a rather small repository.
Documentum Roadmap – Sales versus User Driven
For those that read our review of EMC World in 2011, the next question might be “what does this mean for D7 and the other development efforts (ex: Restful Web Services, Unified Web Interface)”? Unfortunately, we would propose that the purchase of D2 represents another example of Documentum focused on a sales driven culture. As we have mentioned before, Documentum/IIG has not been growing as rapidly as other areas of EMC (ex: VMWare) and has actually been fairly flat in regards to revenues. Also, the push by SharePoint as well as open source alternatives to Documentum like Alfresco have pushed the industry to more of a commodity pricing model. The licensing of D2 starts to make more sense if you put it in this context:
- Documentum Product Development – “We are looking at a D7 release in second half of 2012 with Unified Web Interface as well as other enhancements.”
- Documentum Sales – “What will be the pricing for the Unified Web Interface or any of the updated products?”
- Documentum Product Development – “We are going to offer them all as upgrades to their existing infrastructure or Webtop.”
- Documentum Sales – “So I don’t get any new products to sell to existing clients now or in 2012? Can you add something to the price list that we can sell now?”
The addition of a new product on the pricing list allows the sales reps to sell something to their clients now. This makes even more sense as our awareness of D2 itself was something our clients were telling us their sales reps were pushing them to evaluate.
Overall, we would initially say that Documentum D2 is:
- Very robust – similar functionality with Webtop.
- Good overall performance – at least from what we saw in the Webinar
- Highly configurable – with no ability to add code for items that are not configurable
Our concerns include:
- Too robust and complicated – especially for consumer-only access but for many authors as well
- Would Webtop users really look at replacing one author interface with another, particularly if they are using functions from Documentum (Lifecycle, PDF Manipulation) that is not compatible with D2?
- Who else has been successful with D2? What are the lessons learned?
- What is the long-term team and development path for this tool – did the agreement come with the people to maintain the application for Documentum users?
- Where has the application been successful? Most Documentum users don’t want to be first.
- What is the price point and will the benefits outweigh the cost of another implementation and training for existing Documentum Webtop users?
Overall we would say it makes sense to evaluate D2 for “net new” efforts but would not see it as a replacement for Webtop given the points listed above.
Comment with your thoughts below and look for an upcoming screencam as we start to test D2 internally.