Saying Goodbye to Documentum


One year ago, when Dell announced it was buying EMC, I wrote,

If you see Open Text or CA buy the ECD, start lighting the funeral pyres because Documentum would be officially brain dead and waiting for the machines to be turned off.

Well, it happened. OpenText acquired Documentum. This brings to end the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) wars that began almost 20 years ago. Back then, the leaders were FileNet, Documentum, Oracle, and OpenText. FileNet is buried at IBM who is flirting with Box. Oracle is struggling to reestablish itself after bringing on former Documentum leaders but they are fading away.

This morning, OpenText announced their acquisition of Documentum. I was hesitant to predict that OpenText was going to buy Documentum. It was the obvious prediction and I knew that it would be a chunk of change. $1.62 billion was the final price which covers the $600 million OpenText raised in May and another billion of debt commitment provided by Barclays for this transaction.

I suspect that nobody else was willing to pay EMC that much.

Maybe Documentum Survives

Hodor and White WalkersMaybe I’m overreacting. Maybe the Documentum line will be okay. After all, who has OpenText acquired before 2016?

  • PC DOCS via Hummingbird
  • Obtree
  • Gauss
  • ixos
  • Vignette
  • Global360
  • Metastorm
  • Red Dot

After recently acquiring the scraps of Autonomy from HP, OpenText has its hands full. If history is any judge, I expect InfoArchive to be rebranded under the OpenText brand. The new EMC LEAP product will likely be left out to dry after its tech is salvaged.

The rest of the Documentum product line will likely be relegated to maintenance in order to not cannibalized the core OpenText sales. Given that over half of the revenue generated by the acquired business lines is in maintenance, it seems like they are almost there.

What’s Next

Now that the first generation winner, OpenText, is feasting on the bones of its rivals, the next two generations are left to lead the way forward.

Alfresco, Nuxeo, and M-Files, the second ECM generation, are trying to take gain some ground while there is still time. The on-prem market has a limited lifespan and they have to strike now or become the next acquisition target. Alfresco has been strengthening Activiti, their business process management (BPM) components, and Nuxeo is starting to attract larger investment dollars which signals their desire to grab a real part of the market.

(I’m not forgetting SharePoint but Office365 is in its own unique grouping and is likely to be around until Microsoft implodes.)

It is unlikely to matter much because Box is leading the third generation of ECM vendors. Purely cloud-based, they are finally at the point where they have enough features to be considered fully ECM and not merely beginners in the space. Last week at BoxWorks they raised expectations and I expect a lot of companies to start giving them a close look when planning their content management future.

The cloud is the future. It is nice to have the stories of the first generation of ECM finally start coming to the end. Now the last deniers of the future can finally shake free and face up the facts.

Our future is in the cloud. Your arrival to the future is really up to you.

16 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Documentum

  1. I remember conversations not too long ago discussing ECM becoming infra. In Big Blue’s world this has occurred.

    And before there were “FileNet, Documentum, Oracle (Stellent), and OpenText,” there was FileNet, Viewstar and IBM (ImagePlus). I’m retiring an ImagePlus system now to Content Manager 8.x so that can then be retired to IBM Content Foundation (FileNet). The more things change…

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  2. Well lets hope the worlds regulatory bodies keep up with your pace and declare that they fully understand and embrace the future of the cloud ! Meanwhile in my world of lawyers, compliance officers and regulatory oversight, I will continue to be “stuck with” on premise software for quite some time I suspect……..

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  3. sanoojkutty says:

    Interestingly, we find very little chatter around such buys out here in the Middle East but then any technology was mostly a tick in the box of a stagnant IT Master plan here anyways.

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