CenterStage or SharePoint? An Early Look


I recently dissected a “comparison” between Documentum and SharePoint. Karma was paying attention and I found myself performing a comparison of CenterStage and SharePoint for one of my long-time eRoom customers last week.

Setting the Stage

A little background.  This client has had eRoom Enterprise since 2004.  There has been some isolated success in some pockets of the organization, but not everywhere.  The initial champions left during the deployment and there was no real concerted push to use the system afterwards.  It had grown slowly over time, but hadn’t become a must-use system for many.

Recent leadership has emerged that has said that they need a system to function as the go-to collaborative platform.  After some quick thinking, they narrowed it down to SharePoint and CenterStage Pro.

CenterStage was an option because their eRoom licenses would convert cleanly, leaving them money for other items.  EMC has promised to provide a migration tool which would diminish the migration costs.  With their Content Server already at 6.5, they even have most of the platform setup and ready to go.

SharePoint is under consideration because, well, its SharePoint. People have used it and liked it.  There would be a lot more up-front costs, but if it can deliver a better solution, it might be worth it.

The Demo

I was asked to come into the office to present a demo of CenterStage to their executives.  While I did hold a slim hope for providing services down the road, regardless of their decision, I really did it because the system owner and I had been through a lot over the past six years.  As I changed companies over the years, he always called me for assistance.  I was more than willing to do this favor for him.

After setting up CenterStage on my laptop, no Internet connection at the demo location, I launched right into the demo.  I flew through the features fairly quickly.

Then the fun began.

Where are the databases/lists?  Next version this summer.  Calendars?  Soon.  Polls? Eventually. Will it still synch with my Outlook calendar?  EMC has promised functional equivalency between eRoom and CenterStage, but I couldn’t say for sure if it was in the next release.

They asked if it remembered what I was doing.  I went to a page, opened a different browser and it took me to that same page.  They asked if it worked in Firefox and Chrome.  I quickly pointed out that I had done the demos in both of those browsers.

Is it 508 Compliant? Did I mention that this is a government client?  It is not a small issue.  I know other clients that would move now if the answer was Yes.

At the end of it, they all agreed that CenterStage would work once databases were moved over.  They all agreed that they could at least wait to see what the next release held.

Next Steps for EMC

They need to release a solid update this summer.  I figure they have only a few months after SharePoint 2010’s release before all of that eRoom maintenance revenue starts to file out of the coffers.

I was chatting with a few people last year talking about CenterStage.  They said that it was too late, but I disagreed.  There was still time.  If the goal was to provide a solid interface and not directly compete with SharePoint, there was still time.

Well, that time is almost gone.  Everyday that goes by, eRoom customers leave.  SharePoint 2010 is coming out during EMC World.  Probably a coincidence because I can’t imagine they view EMC as a competitor to worry about.

Only a few minutes left on the clock.  Will EMC get it out the door?  Will it actually work or will they have to rush it to finish it in time?  That would actually be worse.

Stay tuned…

8 thoughts on “CenterStage or SharePoint? An Early Look

  1. ukdavo says:

    SharePoint 2003 should’ve set alarm bells ringing. It’s been 3 years since SharePoint 2007 and EMC have yet to respond. I’d be surprised if CenterStage wins much business other than with existing DCTM customers but you never know.

    On a different subject, perhaps EMC should reconsider their approach of selling modules separately – modules that competing products include as standard (e.g. DA, RM, BPM, collaboration, etc). Something needs to change anyway because Documentum is basically still the same product as 10 years ago – very expensive, a pain to install with poor Windows integration.

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    • You are brilliant. No sarcasm. CenterStage is about holding the line, but until it is “complete”, it is hard to say how much line there will be to hold.

      As for change, AMEN!

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  2. Ray says:

    Curious on your thoughts about introducing Alfresco Share as the collaborative platform – a much more simple licensing model than EMC. Your client seems like a lot of eRoom / Documentum customers who for years have had both, for years have wanted some type of more robust eRoom / Documentum integration, and are now just letting eRoom sit while SharePoint instances come up in the enterprise.

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  3. Chris Campbell says:

    The second paragraph resonated with me. How many times have you seen a system or project completed to great fanfare only to see it quickly wither and die a few months afterward? In the ECM world this will hold true no matter what the platform: Alfresco, Documentum or SharePoint.

    Your client will be back in the same boat unless they can identify why the previous eRoom wasn’t used. The answer to me is that in most cases collaboration isn’t really needed, and therefore not used; or, enforcement of procedures isn’t happening. It’s not the product that fails, it’s the people.

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    • Dead on Chris. Their was broad acknowledgment in the meeting that there would have to be Change Management and they knew that it had to start at the top. This is an organization that it ripe for the solution. They know that eRoom can do it, but with its days numbered, they don’t want to get everyone to eRoom and then have to move them a year later.

      They have learned the lesson and have a sub-organization that has made it work, so I think they have the raw material to make it work this time. They now understand that “Build it and they will come” is not an adoption model.

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  4. While I too thoroughly agree with Chris, you also have to ask what are their main requirements ?

    Do they want ‘workspaces’ for teams and looser groups such as communities of practice ? It sounds like databases and calendars are big deal, and if they have Content Server 6.5 it sounds like document management is not a big deal.

    I now work day in and day out with MOSS 2007 – it sucks in soooo many ways. I have in the past used eRooms Enterprise 7.5 and find it to be a far, far better product, BUT as Chris noted, to some extend the product does not matter at all – where is the sponsorship, the push to use the product etc.

    But back to Pie’s comments – SharePoint 2010 looks far better than MOSS 2007 and appears to address a lot of the current versions issues and problems. If CentreStage Pro is not all singing and all dancing by the next EMC World, then your right, its missed its chance and they may as well forget it, which would be a real shame, but it looked to hold a lot of promise for existing eRoom / Documentum users.

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  5. I highly suspect that EMC will miss the boat on this one. IMHO, CenterStage Pro will ultimately be a more solid client, but does that matter when Microsoft has had the lipstick-sporting pig out the door for so long already in previous versions of Sharepoint and has their unmatchable marketing power behind SP2010?

    BTW, regarding ukdavo’s comment about Documentum being hard to install. That made me curious about Sharepoint, so I started digging and found this page on their prereqs. With its myriad of prereqs, easier installation doesn’t appear to me to be a motivating factor in and of itself for SharePoint.

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262485(office.14).aspx

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