Previously I compared eRoom and SharePoint. I noted several basic features, but didn’t really say that either was dramatically better than the other. They are both solid collaboration options. That is the key here. SharePoint measures up well to eRoom because they are both the same thing. They are Content Rich Applications that focus on Collaboration. They are not ECM solutions. eRoom admits it. SharePoint doesn’t.
SharePoint doesn’t appear to deliver on its promises with its out-of-the-box functionality. As was predicted and then observed, SharePoint requires multiple third party components and other customizations to achieve its true potential. The core problem that comes from this approach is managing components from multiple sources.
An Approach for Content Rich Applications
So what is the best approach to providing all of this functionality inside of SharePoint? How about plugging it onto an ECM platform. I’m not just talking just about Documentum here. This is something that should be workable with all ECM vendors. Right now, Content Services for SharePoint is a custom set of Web Parts. This allows SharePoint to focus on Collaboration while the core ECM features are provided by Documentum or some other ECM platform.
The positive side of this is that SharePoint allows this to be done. The negative side? The Web Parts are custom. In the first service pack for D6, Content Services of SharePoint is going to be rebuilt on top of Documentum Foundation Services. This will provide a more standard approach that will allow both products to take separate upgrade paths.
Meanwhile, eRoom is being re-architected. The front-end is being rewritten to use Documentum as a back-end. A later development will then plug the same user interface into a standalone back-end. This is also being done with DFS.
What should happen next? How about a standard ECM Web Services definition that will allow any ECM platform to plug into SharePoint or eRoom without changing either? Dare to dream.