What to Do About Documentum? Focus on the Applications, not the Platform

In a short amount of time, Documentum went from a division of EMC to a part of Dell to one of two ECM Applications / platforms at OpenText.  As a result, enterprises that have built critical processes on the Documentum platform have some big decisions to make.

And there are a lot of enterprises in this situation. In life sciences, for example, most of the largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies have Documentum applications handling everything from quality management to clinical trial management and FDA submissions. Similarly, Documentum manages critical processes for many industry leaders in the manufacturing, financial services, and services sectors.

In each case, business and IT leaders are weighing the risk of staying put with whether — and when — to migrate from Documentum to an alternative enterprise content management platform. The decision is daunting and fraught with risk.

But here’s the thing: deciding when to move to a new platform, and which one, are the wrong decisions to make.

The ECM Platform is Dead. Long Live ECM Applications!

A simpler way to look at the “Documentum Issue” is as a series of smaller decisions, each focused on when to archive and migrate a particular Documentum application – not when to change to a new ECM platform.

The last thing any organization should be looking to do is to lock themselves into another overly complicated, monolithic ECM platform on which to build applications. Instead, they should look for packaged ECM applications designed to solve particular business problems.

Of course, the trend away from custom applications built on complex platforms to packaged solutions has been well underway for a while. In life sciences, the rise of Veeva software, which offers process-specific, cloud-based applications for the same classes of problems for which organizations previously build Documentum applications, is clear evidence of this trend.

Moving an individual business process off Documentum is still a pretty challenging task, but it is far less challenging and risky than moving all your Documentum applications to a new platform.

Next Generation ECM Frameworks

The process starts with assessing the state of your Documentum portfolio, identifying those applications most in need of updating and finding the best available alternatives.

While there may not be an “out-of-the-box” solution for every process, the current generation of ECM frameworks make configuration of a bespoke solution a much more reasonable proposition than building a custom Documentum application ever was. Designed as portfolios of interconnected services, today’s ECM frameworks let you pull together the content and process management capabilities you require for your particular business solution in a more seamless, scalable and streamlined manner.

One major obstacle complicates this transition process – what to with the application content stored in the Documentum repository. Fortunately, there is way past that obstacle: Application archiving.  

Archive Content to Ease Migration

Application Archiving enables you to move application content to an alternative, lower cost environment where authorized users can still access, report against, search and manage the content in compliance with regulatory requirements.

By archiving inactive Documentum application content, you can reduce the challenges and costs of moving to a new content management application:

  • Reduce the actual volume of content migrated
  • Simplify the metadata mapping exercise
  • Relieve the new application of an overly-large repository

The right application archiving solution does more than simply move content from production application environments to an archive environment; they also provide functionality to manage content according to retention requirements, apply legal holds and perform deep content analytics.

Ultimately, dealing with your portfolio of Documentum applications one at a time will lead to the point where they are all rehoused in new application environments. And archiving the content of those applications one at a time will lead to a point in time when Documentum itself can be retired and decommissioned.

ECM Frameworks + Application Archiving = So Long Documentum

Enterprises deeply tied to Documentum face a difficult set of challenges. But many are looking at this problem the wrong way. This shouldn’t be about purchasing a replacement ECM platform for Documentum. You’re only trading one set of challenges for another.

The decision should focus on migrating one Documentum application at a time using an ECM framework. And while you’re migrating that application, move inactive application content to an application archive that further reduces the effort and costs of the migration process.

The best application archiving solutions (full disclosure: my company, Everteam, sells one) are simple to install, easy to configure and fast to use. But equally important, they ensure the content you archive remains available as long as the business or regulatory reasons require.

Ken Lownie
VP Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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