TSG has updated their whitepaper detailing key differences between Documentum and Alfresco. This post will present the executive summary with a link to obtain the entire paper.
As an infrastructure component, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) assists customers with keeping consistent control of the storage and management of their content assets across a variety of industries and applications. The ECM market has evolved over the last 25 years to a point where many vendors have similar features. Evaluating vendors for decision makers can be extremely difficult due to similar capabilities. Given the maturity of the market and products, decision makers considering ECM should evaluate alternatives not just on the current capabilities and interfaces of the ECM vendors, but also on a wide range of other possible differentiators.
Documentum and Alfresco were formed as two ECM companies from similar roots. Documentum evolved out of Xerox PARC initiatives with John Newton as one of the co-founders. Newton left Documentum in 2002 and in 2005, Newton co-founded Alfresco as part of the open source movement. Most of the key capabilities of Documentum can be found in Alfresco based on this common history.
Based on recent feedback from customers and industry consultants familiar with both products, the following factors combine to make Alfresco the preferred long-term choice over Documentum.
Both Alfresco and Documentum have robust Content Management, Collaboration, Records Management, and Business Process Management (BPM) capabilities compared to a majority of their competitors. Alfresco provides more capabilities with its core installation by leveraging open source components. Documentum provides similar but less robust functionality as additional add-ons that come at an additional cost to customers.
Alfresco has a more modern infrastructure and, as a younger company, is more innovative in incorporating additional capabilities and support of open standards, particularly from the open source community. Documentum’s infrastructure is proprietary and hampered from expansion due to reliance on aging components and technology.
Documentum and Alfresco have very different approaches in how they provide the “full suite” of ECM capabilities. Documentum develops proprietary solutions in-house and has purchased many companies, as well as leverage their own consulting services, to complete their ECM suite. Alfresco, with its roots in open source, prefers to incorporate open source, develop their own products, or partner with other companies to complete their suite. This allows Alfresco to focus on continuously improving its own products and specialties while relying on a robust open source community and partner infrastructure for additional components. Alfresco’s approach has proven to be more innovative and quicker to market than Documentum’s approach.
Documentum has a traditional software purchase fee structure with maintenance costs, while Alfresco has a software subscription model. Both have components of user and CPU pricing. Documentum has a long price list that requires licenses for every interface and a pricing history that has hurt many customer relationships. Alfresco has a simple price list with user and CPU pricing for unlimited interfaces. As a subscription service, Alfresco must “win back” clients every year as part of the renewal process as opposed to the traditional software purchase with ongoing maintenance. Documentum customers struggle with lock-in as many proprietary solutions and add-ons can only be implemented with pricey Documentum consulting services. Alfresco relies on third party vendors for solutions and has limited consulting resources, allowing customers to have more flexibility in purchasing.
People and Support
Documentum engineering, located in Pleasanton, California, has had considerable churn of engineering resources. The announcement in September of 2016 that Documentum was being bought from EMC by OpenText will also contribute to more churn as we would predict that OpenText, a Canadian company, will struggle keeping resources based in Silicon Valley from considering other options. While it might seem that access to a larger and deeper resource pool of talent would be a benefit, due to the age of the company and proximity to other technology firms, Documentum has struggled to attract and retain top talent. The churn of engineering resources as well as the variety of people and technologies from technology acquisitions has resulted in inconsistent product development, support and difficult upgrades to new or updated interface components.
Alfresco engineering, located in Maidenhead England, has been very consistent due to the experience and continued leadership of John Newton, as well as the age of the company. Many of the engineering resources have remained in place since their hiring 10 years ago. All portions of the Alfresco software products are well known, understood, maintained, and enhanced.
Cloud Hosting and Partnerships
ECM is more and more being hosted in the cloud. Alfresco and Documentum’s ability to offer cloud hosted solutions will be a key differentiator for clients. Documentum has struggled with cloud offerings given that, when part of EMC they were incented to offer a solution, as well as products, on EMC’s cloud offering based on VMWare. Based on industry reviews like Gartner, VMware’s offering, vCloud Air, was seen as far inferior to industry leaders Amazon (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft (Azure). With the purchase of Documentum by OpenText, most are anticipating that OpenText will push leverage of their cloud, OpenText Cloud.
Alfresco has a tight relationship with Amazon to the point of even providing Alfresco services in the AWS Marketplace and conducting a 1 billion document benchmark with Amazon. The Alfresco/AWS relationship and experience make Alfresco a significantly better choice for those customers considering AWS.
We would view either Documentum or Alfresco a similar in regards to being able to run in Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment.
Future Vision and Roadmap
As a subsidiary of EMC making up less than 3% of the company’s overall revenue, EMC’s Enterprise Content Division (ECD), the division that Documentum is a part of, was a cash cow division with minimal effort being spent on product research and development. Roadmaps were often inconsistent year to year and are tied to new sales opportunities rather than product improvement. Given the OpenText sale and announcement, most analysts are predicting that Documentum will stay a cash cow for OpenText with minimal investment in ECM products. Multiple products have been recently discontinued or are continued but are no longer enhanced. Documentum clients that have committed to proprietary interfaces with Documentum consulting have often been disappointed as these products offer limited support and sometimes do not include an upgrade path or are completely re-architected to make upgrades difficult. The sale of Documentum by EMC/Dell to OpenText will introduce competition within the OpenText family of products as OpenText has many alternatives to most Documentum products. Most analysts are predicting that OpenText will look to provide minimal new investment in Documentum consistent with EMC’s approach.
Alfresco, as a private company with venture funding, commits a substantial amount of earnings and capital to improving products and leveraging the investment by others in the open source movement. Roadmaps are very consistent year over year with few distractions of new interfaces or consulting offerings.
Many of the points in this paper are based on articles that appeared online on this site. If you have any comments or thoughts on this paper or its statements, please contribute to the blog or email inquiry (at) tsgrp.com, and TSG will post the points for discussion and clarification.