OpenText offices in Richmond Hill
OpenText confirmed its commitment to Documentum in this interview with CMSWire

Joe Shepley thinks organizations should move off the Documentum platform. Shepley, vice president and practice leader at Chicago-based Doculabs, opened up a discussion on how to do so earlier this month.

CMSWire spoke with Stephen Ludlow, senior director, Enterprise Product Marketing at OpenText to hear his response to the article and find out more about OpenText's plans for Documentum. OpenText acquired Documentum in 2016 when it bought Dell EMC's Enterprise Content Division (ECD).

Documentum an 'Active Investment'

According to Shepley, Documentum customers he speaks with don't see a future for the company in OpenText and so are exploring their options. Ludlow countered that Documentum is a core part of its enterprise content management strategy, which in turn is part of the company's wider information management strategy.

In January, a week after the Documentum deal was sealed, OpenText CMO Adam Howatson affirmed in an interview with CMSWire the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s commitment to the product. He also dismissed speculation that OpenText bought ECD for the maintenance business it would bring.

"[We are] 100 percent committed to active investment,” he told CMSWire, adding that for those who fear the demise of Documentum, OpenText "may be your saving grace." 

OpenText Responds to Documentum Concerns

Ludlow reiterated the company’s vision for Documentum had not changed and that OpenText is committed to ongoing investment in the platform. 

CMSWire: What is your reaction to Jo Shepley’s contention that Documentum users should prepare an exit strategy?

Stephen Ludlow: There was a number of reasons why a systems integration or ECM specialist might be writing about all kinds of systems in order to create churn for customers. There is a lot of money for some of the ECM specialists in encouraging their customers to move every once in a while in order to generate additional services revenue.

This needs to be acknowledged — that the people writing these articles are coming at it from the perspective of generating revenue for themselves.

The best thing I think is to provide the communication strategy from the acquisition on.

Stephen Ludlow, Senior Director, Enterprise Product Marketing at OpenText
Stephen Ludlow
From day one of the acquisition to the most recent user conference that happened in July in Toronto, through ongoing communication through webinars, one of the things we have been trying to do is communicate to the install base that their investment is safe.

I think that's easy for us to say from the perspective of what OpenText has been in the past. I should also point out that that we are also been investing pretty heavily in — or even refreshing — the Documentum roadmap and taking on a lot of project managers in OpenText who have been working with Documentum for some time.

Secondly, we are making them [Documentum customers] pretty happy with the level of investment and are continuing to make sure Documentum customers see a strong roadmap with innovation and not just the sense that we are going to maintain the application over time.

CMSWire: What about existing deployments?

Ludlow: Of course organizations are going to be looking at evaluating their technology. In particular, they need to ask ‘Should I be doing this on-premises or should I be doing it in the cloud?’

We have been pretty pragmatic in following our customers — and the whole point of our communication — has been identifying that they [our customers] will continue to use their on-premises applications, but that they will be shifting more and more activities to the cloud.

We have laid out a strategy and vision of how that happens and in part that is what we have been communicating, what we consider the future of ECM.

CMSWire: What does this mean?

Ludlow: To summarize, we said we are going to continue to invest in the platform as it is so [the customers] are happy. But we also acknowledge there are going to be technology decisions in determining whether they are going to go to the cloud.

Our expectation is that they will continue to move some activities and feature into the cloud in the future and that is what we are trying to lay out for them.

This means that it [Documentum strategy] will not, or should not, be a lift and shift or rip out and replace, but more of a gradual evolution.

CMSWire: Given Documentum’s reputation for being complicated, do you not think organizations might want to move?

Ludlow: It is big and it is complicated, but the existing customers that are using it today have absorbed the bigness and complication and major parts of their business run on it, depend on it.

So what we are doing now is for that install base, we are making sure that they are happy [with what we offer]. There are also areas where we see the likelihood of new customers coming onto the Documentum platform.

For me a good example is life sciences and clearly Doucmentum has been a leader here. In the next few months there will be the release of a new life sciences application based on Leap.

[Leap is a suite of purpose-built, cloud-native apps that deliver enterprise-grade content management capabilities for diverse business use cases through an intuitive user experience. EMC introduced Leap at the EMC World Conference 2016, before the OpenText acquisition.]

This is a really good example of how the existing applications will be there and relied upon by the customers. At the same time using the new cloud platform to enable the activities that people really want to do, like exchanging information between inside and outside partners.

CMSWire: What else do you have in mind for Documentum?

Ludlow: The first day after the acquisition, the product marketing people that worked with Documentum came in and worked with me as well. It’s still our go-to application in life sciences, go-to application in energy and engineering. And from that perspective, it is a fully supported product with new sales activity built around it, particularly in its areas of strength.

Customers are still looking for innovation and are still looking for ways to do things easier with up-to-date software. So there are three key [strategic] areas [with Documentum] including the life sciences:

  1. There will be more analytics. [That means] adding more analytics into search, adding analytics into your content to understand it from an administrator perspective or from an end user perspective.
  2. Another area: you talk about the expense and complication of running your Documentum instance. We'll be doing new things like supporting storage objects, so you can use cloud vendors like Amazon S3 for backend storage and continue to push down costs.
  3. Thirdly and in terms of innovation: with Office 365 gaining prominence in organizations as more and more use it as their editor for content and storage of content, it [Documentum] should be able to connect and support and surround Office 365. For that, we have a new release coming out for Enterprise Content Connect which allows you to directly edit content using the new Office web applications, to support where customers are going into their wide IT environments.

CMSWire: Final word?

Ludlow: To a certain degree Joe is right. Everyone should be looking at their technology and thinking what their exit strategy is. So that's fair.

The exit strategy for a lot of organizations, particularly given the huge amount of information and the huge amount of business processes around that information, is not going to be a rip and replace strategy — it’s going to be much more of an evolution.

More and more organizations are using content services across the enterprise, so the point for us is to make sure we are opening up those services for our existing customers and evolving use of a new cloud platform so they can make the most of their existing investments.

That's a common theme for us. Some existing Documentum customers are going to be using Documentum for basic document management, but an awful lot of customers run a significant part of their business around Documentum. We don't think they are just going to chuck it out just because Joe says it’s time to develop an exit strategy.