Documentum ties collaboration into content management

Enterprise software vendor Documentum has expanded the breadth of its enterprise CM (content management) line with the addition...

Enterprise software vendor Documentum has expanded the breadth of its enterprise CM (content management) line with the addition of two products designed to enable collaboration integrated with CM across business boundaries.

The Documentum Collaboration Edition is an extension of the company's CM platform that provides management for content creation, capture, delivery, and archiving. The first new product, dubbed Team Center, is a packaged collaboration application that includes features such as real-time chat, discussion threads, and WebEx Communications integration. In addition, Team Center is based on an existing product called iTeam, which provides team collaboration support, project management, and scheduling tools through integration with Microsoft Project.

Meanwhile, Documentum Collaboration Services, expected to ship early next year, is a set of collaborative components that the company plans to make available as part of the Documentum platform and as services that can be built into other third-party or custom applications. With Collaboration Services, capabilities such as chat or real-time discussion thread will be built-in features of the Documentum CM platform and can be leveraged by other applications built on top of the platform.

In the future, Documentum plans to wrap the services with Web services standards so the components such as chat, whiteboarding, and project setup can be offered as Web services. No timeline for the Web services Collaborative Services offering was available.

Furthermore, the Collaboration Edition also includes the company's existing CES (Content Exchange Services), which are designed to aggregate and distribute content, workflow, and collaboration across business boundaries.

The goal of the offering is to unify collaboration and CM so that content produced during the course of collaboration can be captured, managed, and reused across the organisation, according to Naomi Miller, director of product marketing at Documentum.

A major pain point for collaboration is between businesses, when an enterprise works with suppliers or vendors to collaboratively build products and then bring them to market, according to Miller.

"The biggest challenge organisations have in [collaborating] is the content exchange piece and the security around that. Documentum wants to let [customers] move seamlessly between team members of the enterprise and external suppliers in a very secure environment," she said.

The tight link between collaboration and CM capabilities ensures that collaborative content such as chats or threaded discussions can be retained, filed, stored, and reused, Miller said.

"Very often there is rich knowledge in collaboration pieces that can get orphaned at the end of a project," Miller said.

To address security, Documentum's CES offers SSL, encryption, and Access Control Lists to filter access to content.

One of the challenges facing enterprises is how to manage the content that results from a collaboration endeavour, according to Rob Perry, a senior analyst at Yankee Group.

"A lot of times you collaborate and the final document you may want to publish to the Web or to a traditional document management system," he said. "This point of tighter integration helps fill in that piece, so you can collaborate on a document and have the result of it be part of the overall enterprise content management effort."

The longer-term question, Perry added, is where collaboration and document management components will come from and how they will be presented to users.

"It will be interesting to see whether [collaborative document management] ends up being delivered by the portal to enable document sharing as part of collaboration piece they offer, as part of file system-oriented products like [Microsoft] SharePoint, or collaboration servers using WebDAV, which lets the repository looks just like another folder on the network," Perry said.

Read more on Business applications