Investing in an EMC-Documentum Partnership


There has been a lot of talk over the past year, especially on my blog, about the issues with the traditional vendors.  While I’ve focused on EMC, most of these issues face every Content Management platform vendor.  The challenges of from the Open Source vendors and the emergence of the cloud as a concept broader than simple hosting have beset the establishment.

The thing is, the vendors are not in immediate trouble.  There are a lot of organizations that require more functionality, trust, and faith than Open Source or cloud vendors can provide.  For the next several years, as long as the older vendors can provide value and show progress towards a viable future, they are going to be a significant piece of the Content Management landscape.

With that in mind, let’s look at EMC and its allure as a real partner.

The Obvious

When I think on this, the first thing that hits me is that my company has several projects using the Documentum platform ongoing and planned.  We have also been a partner for years. In general, value from the partnership is provided by simple momentum.

Momentum isn’t enough from a strategic standpoint. Sure, it makes a good reason to sustain a partnership, but it isn’t a reason to invest in a partnership.  In addition, if you are with a company that isn’t a partner of EMC, then why would you become one?

Well, you could become a Documentum body-shop.  There is money in that.  It is also risky, difficult to manage, and requires a fair amount of effort to establish.

The real trick to a good partnership is for both sides to bring something to the table that has value today and in the future. You just need to find a solution, or set of solutions, to build on the Documentum platform.  How hard could that be?  Just grab a few developers and dive into xCP and you are done, right?

Picking a Solution

Well, it is a little more complicated than that if you want to succeed.  You need to do quite a few things.

  • Domain Expertise: Do you have experts in the area. Not ones that just know it, but can talk to the business people and take the conversation out of the hands of the techies. You need people to instill confidence in prospects in order to get that first project.
  • Market Need: Let’s face it, if there are 2-3 leaders in the market, you better have something snazzy. If the market is still searching for the right solution, then you are in the right place.
  • Why Documentum as the Platform?: Let’s face it. In any market, someone is selling almost every given bundle to solve most problems. You need to make sure that the technology picked is the right technology, not just because you know how to use it. Using Documentum because you know it is good. Using Documentum because you know it and it is the right fit, better.
  • A Plan: Let’s face it, if you don’t have a plan to penetrate the market, you are toast.  You can have the right people, but if you can’t get that traction going, you may just spend a lot of money.

Of course, you may just get lucky, though that isn’t a good strategy on which to bank.

Changes are Afoot

Let’s face it. As good as Documentum may be as a platform, all of that is irrelevant if it doesn’t have a future. Why invest in building a solution on something that you know is going to die?

Probably because right now, I don’t know that it is going to die. Since last year’s EMC World, there have been a lot of changes for the good at EMC.

  • New Leadership: The President, CTO, and Architect positions have changed. Mark Lewis is gone and Jeroen van Rotterdam is in as the Architect.
  • Solid Technical Direction: Based upon what was shared at the European Momentum conference and from a chat with Jeroen last month, the platform is heading in the right direction. The right technical direction as gone from eventually to on the way. As long as Jeroen is there, the direction will be in the right direction.
  • Content is Back: I was at the EMC Worldwide Sales kickoff last month. The biggest take-away I got from the attendees that I talked to during the event, Content Management is back. Case Management is still important, but Content Management is the business area that EMC is selling. Big.
  • Refocus on Partners: I had heard rumors in the fall, but then I got a call from a partner guy wanting to talk about how we could work together. I’ve owned partner relationships with EMC for about 6 of the 11 years that I have worked with the product, and I’ve NEVER gotten a phone call like that before.

That’s not to say that EMC is going to survive the changes that are coming over the next five years or that there aren’t significant challenges facing them. I am only saying that if I had scripted it out, I don’t think I could have written a more plausible script that was so favorable.

So What Now?

Well, I’ve rambled long enough to turn this into two posts, so you’ll have to wait for the next post.  To sum up, I’m investing in the EMC partnership again.

    9 thoughts on “Investing in an EMC-Documentum Partnership

    1. MothyT says:

      Totally agree with your post Pie. The changes at EMC are very encouraging and the willingness to re-engage with partners is welcome.

      My only caution to EMC is to tread very carefully in allowing their professional services teams to promote applications and use the EMC brand in competiton to well established ISV partners.

      Customers could be dissapointed in the long term if these applications are not supported by the Documentum engineering teams and the collective domain expertise of the ISV community could relunctantly be forced to find a another platform.

      EMC-Documentum continues to be a great partner and a great platform and shouldn’t let an odditty in a otherwise sound partner strategy unravel much of this good work.

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      • Well, the partner thing is unfolding. To be honest with you, the partner strategy could change in 1 year. It has before. The goal for any partner is to use this year to become entrenched, just-in-case. I am enjoying the attention, but I am not going to take it for granted. I don’t doubt EMC’s intent, just hedging my bets.

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    2. I concur with your thought – we have had very similar (positive) experiences in the last few months with the partner relationship with EMC. Long may it continue – I think it is smart as it ends up being a win-win for both.

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    3. Savio says:

      Looks like good news for anyone involved in Documentum over a long time. It is good to see EMC finally get back to Content Management. The change in IIG at architect level is well received, liked his session at Momentum. Also the fact that he is from xDB makes it likely that xDB is going to play a big part in the new Ifrastructure server. Can’t say the same about the leadership change, Devenuti shows lesser vision than Mark Lewis, and if we go by his past performance, the bad reception that Centerstage has received, things do not necessarily look promising, maybe if Balaji Yelamanchili came back?

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      • From everything I have heard, Devenuti is an improvement over Lewis. Time will tell for sure, but there is a better direction. Nothing is for certain, but the risk of working with EMC is significantly down.

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    4. Your post is really comforting. I do hope that EMC has changed the approach towards partners and will be interested in building common business with partners and not against them as I have seen in the past.

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