Embracing SharePoint, Recipe for Death?


Wanted to take a quick break to comment on a post I read on Big Men On Content. This is a blog I have recently added to my regular read list, such as I read any blog “regularly” these days given my recent workload. It mentions into the perils of ECM vendors hitching their wagon to SharePoint with the observation that Microsoft doesn’t need them. They are right and they are wrong. Where they are wrong is slight and the whole concept is worth exploring.

The Cloudy Future

Right now ECM vendors are trying to make their more scalable platforms and plug them into the back of SharePoint. When properly done, this can really make SharePoint quite a useful and powerful solution. There are a lot of ways to get them to work together, as Andrew has pointed out in his Seven Reference Architectures for SharePoint and ECM.

The basic problem for ECM vendors that Lee Dallas at BMOC correctly observes is that Microsoft is going to fix their scalability limits. I think it may take a little time as the amount of content that an organization needs to store is growing as well. I believe that Microsoft will increase their scalability on a sharper curve than the market requires, but it will most likely take two releases for them to completely catch the curve.

Of course, they could do it on their next release if they invest heavily. One never knows. Even if Microsoft doesn’t, if SharePoint can handle 80% of the Fortune 500 with their next release, that’ll put pain on the current ECM vendors.

What’s a Vendor to do?

SharePoint is a Collaborative Content Application. That is the key concept. SharePoint should be where people go to work together to create content and knowledge. The ECM vendors need to focus on the other, non-”enterprise”, reasons for putting their applications in the back-end. They need to focus on fact that SharePoint isn’t for WCM or for well-defined or high-volume business processes or for Records, though Microsoft is likely to strengthen those features.

In a few years, when SharePoint throws our their next version, ECM vendors need to have already shown their value beyond simple scalability. They need to show how they can work to make SharePoint a part of the ECM environment and the larger world of Information Management.

The trick is to do all of this in a standard way so that the ECM system can support SharePoint and portals such as Vignette without having to create and maintain a separate product. That requires more investment than a single, standards-based solution.

Hmmm, a way to save money by using standards. I wonder if it will stick?

4 thoughts on “Embracing SharePoint, Recipe for Death?

  1. Ahhh, all just a trick to get back to the subject of standards eh , I can see right through you matey… :-)

    Whatever next, postings on iECM, JSR170, SOA…… any excuse !

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  2. Hmm…I can’t help to wonder why so many people suddenly think Sharepoint is the ONLY collaborative portal out there. Sure MOSS is getting more and more attention and is being installed in a lot of places. Fine, let people do that. But do we really need to surrender to Microsoft already. Sure there must be alternatives out there since MOSS is definiately not the best fit for everyone. As people have pointed out, MOSS will result in a very fragmented enterprise with dozens and dozens of sites created in an ad-hoc manner sometimes even supported by Groove. But for anyone that need a focused strategy to handle information and their flows within an enterprise that can hardly be a desireable solution.

    Sure the big ECM-vendors need to focus on delivering much better collaborative user interfaces or maybe parterning with our collaborative portal projekts. Personally I rather “content-enable” a more straightforward community solution with Documentum than forcing users into a strange Sharepoint default interface that many of my users find rather confusing.

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  3. Alexandra, you are exactly right. I’d like to see eRoom make a run at it. I think the ECM vendors are worried and are thinking too much on the short term. Lee Dallas pointed out a short-term concern. You point to the not-so-obvious opportunity for a competing solution.

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  4. Alexander – take a look at Chuck Hollis blog about internal use of Social Media within EMC, they are using Jive Softwares ‘Clearspace’ platform – maybe because EMC are using it themselves, soon their might be a nice integration ?

    If you want a nice collaborative portal and don’t want MOSS use BEA Aqualogic !

    Pie – for info, I have just been told eRoom 8 is dead ! Long live the “Knowledge Worker Internet Rich Client” !! Aparently the product known by the codename Phoenix, which we heard so much about at EMC World 2007 in Florida, which was to be released this year, was not a big enough improvement. So Phoenix is killed off, to be replaced by something better in 2009. This is ‘official’ word from Documentum Monaco conference (Nov 2007) and there will be a presentation on this subject at a ‘D6 day’ at Wembley Stadium in London on the 28th of this month.

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