I spent a good part of my day today attending the SharePoint meets ECM seminar in Washington, DC. Organized by AIIM, this seminar was marketed as an introduction of MOSS into the world of ECM. So I went to see and hear stories of SharePoint either as a front-end to an ECM platform, or as a platform unto itself. The day didn’t start well.
The Case Studies
You want to scan things into SharePoint? This was your day. To be honest, if you are focused on back file scanning, SharePoint is the least of your worries. These are the vendors that provided breakout Case Studies:
- Fujitsu – “Document Imaging Meets SharePoint”
- ABBYY – “SharePoint and Beyond: Imaging, Capture and OCR”
- Kofax – “Leveraging Kofax Capture with MOSS 2007”
- Eastman Kodak – “Increasing Sanning Productivity with New World Technology”
- Tower Software – “The Value of Front End Loading”
- Certeon – “Turbo-charging SharePoint Deployments Over the WAN”
The Tower Software presentation was great. It was entertaining. It talked about the importance of classifying a document upon ingestion. It got the point across with great examples that were easily understood by the entire audience. It didn’t mention SharePoint once. If you overlook that one detail, it was perfect.
Certeon provides hardware appliances that can accelerate the delivery of content to end-users over a WAN. This is a very useful technology and helps to solve a problem that dispersed Enterprises face. While some ECM vendors provide caching products, such as EMC’s Branch Office Caching Server (BOCS), a hardware appliance gives you multi-application, caching services. A worthwhile participant, but not what I was looking for at the seminar. Then again, it wasn’t a discussion on scanning either.
There was one Case Study that had a time slot to itself. It was presented by RDA and titled “How SharePoint Evolved into a Viable ECM Solution?” (Not my question mark) This was a very interesting study on standing up a SharePoint solution to solve an ECM problem and was well done. However, it consisted solely of SharePoint and not a true ECM backbone. I imagine that the only difference between this presentation and one that Microsoft would present is that Microsoft has the resources for a prettier slide deck.
The ECM vendors present were:
- EMC – Nothing special or new. Standard marketing material that you can get online. No demo. A downside of my familiarity with the product is that it was hard to get me excited about it.
- FileNet (IBM) – Same basic message as EMC. The difference? Their product isn’t out yet, though it is due this year. EMC also has more exposed functionality, but this is more due to maturity than anything else. The odds are that they will compete on the back-end functionality more than the integration points, assuming they deliver.
- OnBase – Their messaging was focused on complementing SharePoint. Using a classification scheme from Forrester, they showed how SharePoint handles Collaborative Content and that they help SharePoint handle the Transactional Content. This was a unique view from the other ECM vendors present and they even had a working demo. Not sure if they are truly Enterprise, but they are going to be on my radar from a SharePoint perspective.
- Spring CM – This is a hosted Document Management solution. While it may be a good solution, their SharePoint story was very weak.
- Tower Software – Theoretically the same as EMC and FileNet. No literature seemed to be available though, either there or from what I can find on their website. I was told that it is all being re-worked.
My basic problem, generic sales people were running these booths. Someone that knows the product offering around SharePoint in more detail would have been nice. They did an adequate job, but they didn’t seem to understand the real business case for their product behind SharePoint.
The Doculabs Take
Another key participant was Doculabs. They presented their White Paper, The Co-existence of Microsoft SharePoint and Advanced ECM Platforms: What You Need to Know. The White Paper contains most of the good information, though the presentation was a good reinforcement and explanation of the content. Now, I’m not going to go into details in this post, but if you register for the seminar, you can download the White Paper for free.
To give you a preview, Microsoft’s ECM is just Document Management. This is along the lines of what has been discussed previously. Go, register, and read it for yourself.