What to like in Documentum? It's a flexible system in many aspects, from a developer's point of view, but also from a user's.
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Businesses with processes and applications that involve a large volume of documents, benefit greatly from using a document management system. Document management systems are, essentially, digital storage places for files and documents - what we call “repositories" and they are used to track and store electronic documents. Metadata, such as creation date, author name etc., can be added to each digitally stored document. That will facilitate efficient searching in vast volumes of digital documents or to display a specific document's role in an entire file.
Documentum was founded in 1990 and acquired by EMC² Corporation in 2003, which was later acquired by Dell Inc. in 2015, forming Dell EMC. It now integrates the ECD portfolio within the OpenText EIM solution, after OpenText completed its acquisition of Dell EMC Enterprise Content Division, including Documentum, in February 2017.
Why do I like Documentum? It's a flexible system in many aspects, from a developer's point of view, but also from a user's. Choosing Documentum will allow you to choose the user interface of your liking, tuned to your needs. The system is built to grow along with your company - be it by expanding the number of servers or by moving to the cloud. Besides that, Documentum seamlessly interacts with other systems, such as scanning software, and with its new file sharing features you can share files with colleagues quickly and securely.
In this post, I'll look at those five reasons to love Documentum in detail. The document management world, after all those years, still gets me enthused.
#1 Flexible user interfaces
The first reason for loving Documentum is its flexibility in user interfaces.
Choosing the user interface for a Documentum content repository used to be a complex process as many options were available: Webtop, Centerstage or DAM. Most of the time, however, you actually needed a combination of those interfaces, and you would still end up customizing them.
EMC² has made a significant effort in modernizing its user interfaces. Generally speaking, you could say that there are now two main GUIs to address your document and content repository: D2 and xCP. They can be used separately or together.
User interface 1: D2
If you want an out of the box and configurable document management user interface that is ready to use, choose D2.
User interface configuration can be as simple as defining the context for your user roles and selecting options in a matrix. Determine the tools your user needs in a situation and start configuring.You can specify the availability of actions and widgets:
- Does the user get folder navigation?
- What kind of document lists are available?
- How does the properties page look?
- Does the user get a document preview or not?
- What menu actions should be available in a particular context?
In the same way, some automation within your application is configured, such as automatic naming and numbering schemes and auto classification. The result is user-friendly and context related workspaces for the end user to choose from.
User interface 2: xCP (xCelerated Composition Platform)
Does your daily work consist of dynamic processes that require the collaboration of different users - for example if you work on claims for an insurance company, or if you're responsible for legal documents? Or do your users have more custom needs regarding the application? Use Documentum xCP (xCelerated Composition Platform).
Documentum xCP can be seen as a box of building blocks: it makes it pretty easy to set up an interface without coding, which enables you to compose an application, perfectly fitted to your needs. Over 80% (and sometimes even up to 100%) of your needs can be covered just by configuration. But don't be mistaken, xCP is also flexible enough to allow a developer to integrate custom code or even build custom widgets to get the desired behavior for the application.
Also take a look at the Documentum xCP sample application page.
Next to delivering one of the best document and content management platforms, EMC² and their partners are also focusing on developing out-of-the-box solutions for different verticals like Energy and Engineering, Life-sciences, Healthcare, Public Sector and Financial Services & Insurance.
All of these solutions are based on (or are migrating to) either D2 or xCP based applications. There is already a broad variety of solutions available.
#2 Flexible system: start small, grow big
Here’s a second reason to love Documentum: the system is known to be one of the most robust and scalable systems of its kind. Thanks to its user based licensing model, you can start using Documentum with a company of five and still use it when with a company of 50 or 500. You can grow your server park along with your needs as well.
User based licensing model
The licensing model is user based, so you can start with a small project to encourage digital working for one of your departments. You wouldn't need to immediately invest a vast amount of money in server infrastructure, application development and license fees. After a successful first project, you can easily extend your Documentum implementation and user base by adding new applications.
Extensible server volume
On the server side, growing bigger is not an issue. Even when started small by squeezing as much Documentum components as possible on a few servers, this can evolve. Horizontal (adding more servers) and vertical (adding more memory and CPU) scaling remain possible. The full product stack supports virtualisation and multiple operating systems. When your system is under increasing load, the different components of your Documentum installation can be moved to separate servers and set up in high availability and /or load balanced mode. Clustered database server environments are supported for the major database providers.
If your company is doing really well and grows beyond the boundaries of your current location, or even goes international, your Documentum system is ready to grow along. It supports branch office caching and multiple repositories at different locations with content synchronisation.
Document lifecycle management
Finally, to keep your system efficient and to ensure your live content is relevant, you have to think about the lifecycle of your information. Keeping all information live in an ever-growing repository, that gets slower and contains outdated content, is not a good idea. Even though scaling is possible to keep things running smoothly, think about information archival or disposal. Documentum engineers share your thoughts and provide solutions to tackle this challenge. Based on configurable retention policies, it is possible to archive less active information to an InfoArchive based solution. On a side note: the possibilities of InfoArchive are much broader than this use case.
Start small, grow big - it sounds nice, doesn't it? As you can see, it is possible - and certainly so with the Documentum product stack. A word of caution, however: designing your information architecture, designing and implementing user-friendly features and installing as well as maintaining your Documentum services will demand an intervention from skilled developers.
#3 Flexible system hosting
Flexibility in system hosting is a third thing to love about Documentum.
Everything is moving to the cloud! True, in the future, this might or will become reality. And it is moving fast. But not all companies are eager to host their internal information outside of the company yet. Some aren't even allowed to do so.
Traditionally, document management systems were hosted on-premise. With Documentum, you certainly still have the flexibility to do so. Especially for small to mid-size systems, this is even still the case most of the time. As said before, keep in mind that installing, maintaining and configuring document management systems requires the help of professional Documentum developers.
If your company doesn't want to invest in internal knowledge but rather focus on its core business, EMC² has a cloud-based solution for you: onDemand.
I couldn't phrase it better than they do, so I will quote them on this one:
"EMC² Managed Services OnDemand allows customers to leverage managed services on premise, or in a private cloud to run Documentum (Webtop, D2, xCP, Energy and Engineering Solution, and Life Sciences Solution), Captiva and Document Sciences xPression applications.
Notice that it can be on premise as well as in a private cloud. You will get a system that is installed, monitored, managed and upgraded by specialist.
#4 Flexible interaction with other systems
Document and content management systems used to be standalone silos of information, next to databases, ERP systems, and so on. Fortunately, those times are long gone. Nowadays, they fully integrate with other business applications. Documentum offers this possibility as well - a fourth reason to be enthusiastic about working with it.
Your Documentum document management system can become one of the core components to support your business in their move to the digital workplace:
- Scanning applications like Captiva or Kofax digitize your paper-based flow. They seamlessly integrate with Documentum and can be used as one of many input channels of digital information;
- Other applications that already contain structured or unstructured information can integrate with Documentum by means of webservices. Both consuming information from the repository and ingesting data and content into the repository are possible. Without going into technical details, the Documentum content repository supports different implementations of webservices: CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services: an open standard, DFS (Documentum Foundation Services) and Documentum Rest services.
Integration of other systems into your Documentum application is also possible. While designing processes in xCP, you dispose of a complete set of process activities that enable you not only to integrate with databases, but also to consume web services made available by other systems.
As you can see, integrating with Documentum does not mean reliance on specifically developed connectors any more. Although it is not an open source product, it has become much more open and flexible, both for being integrated in other applications as for integrating with other systems.
#5 Flexible document sharing
A final reason to love Documentum in this list, is document sharing.
As mentioned earlier, the licensing model of Documentum content server and related products is user based. This can be an advantage. But, if you have an undefined or very large number of information consumers, this could become an issue. In that case you need the possibility to share the information from your content repository to the outside world in a controlled way. And again, you have different possibilities:
- Syncplicity: using the Syncplicity connector for Documentum, processes built in xCP can automatically share content that is available in your repository. D2 also has built-in capabilities to share documents to Syncplicity from within the GUI. Syncplicity makes your content available anywhere, at any time on any device. All of this in a secure way; your company stays in control of the shared content by the built-in IRM (Information Rights Management) functionality.
- Interactive delivery services enables your business to publish information from your content server to a cached repository. Web applications can then consume this information to make it available through different channels.
- xPression Documentum Edition: enables your business to create personalized and multi channel customer communication.
This is a very limited list, based on EMC² products that tightly integrate with your Documentum repository. There are certainly many other solutions available. The aim here is just to "demonstrate" that your Documentum content management system is flexible enough to provide an answer to many of your business challenges.
Documentum has a lot to offer, but in my opinion, its most attractive characteristic is its flexibility. When you decide to use Documentum in your company, you're getting a system that has two user interfaces (D2 and xCP) which you can use separately as well as working alongside each other. You'd use a system that grows with your company - be it in the number of users, servers or files managed within the system. It would allow you to move to the cloud, or keep your files on-premise, depending on your business needs. Two last reasons to love Documentum: its flexibility in integrating with other systems, and its different options to share files while staying in control of your content.
About the author
Jan De Greef is Consultant at AMPLEXOR, specialized in EMC Documentum. He is based in Belgium.