Why traditional ECM tools like Documentum, FileNet, SharePoint, and Alfresco are not suited for cloud file sharing

EMC released Documentum 7.0 last week. While we'll talk about that in a separate post, I noticed they also released a connector to Syncplicity, a cloud file sharing vendor they acquired recently.

Tools such as EMC Syncplicity, Box, Accelion, Citrix FileShare, and others provide lightweight collaboration and basic file services using a cloud-based deployment model. Enterprises will naturally question: since the functionality these cloud-based tools provide is really a subset of the larger problem document management tools like Documentum seek to solve, why not just use of the traditional ECM or Collaboration tools for file sharing instead of selecting a new set of tools?

Large ECM vendors such as EMC, Oracle, IBM, or OpenText specialize in highly customized, integrated, process-driven, high-volume, transactional implementations. They offer a full range of services to manage the complete life-cycle of content – starting from creation of content to its management to delivery and then archival and disposition.

Similarly, traditional Collaboration vendors are also relatively heavyweight solutions: they provide sophisticated services for collaboration that include advanced features such as instant messaging, presence, social networking, Q&A forums, structured knowledgebases, co-authoring documents, and so forth.

These tools are also much more expensive, more scalable, more extensible, and more readily secured (mainly because your install them on-premise).

Now, you don't need any of those advanced platforms for many common scenarios. What yous colleagues may need most of all is an easy way to share files (including via mobile devices), perhaps taking part in light-weight collaboration around those files.

This is where the relatively simpler, cloud-based tools that we discuss come into the enterprise. Their current lack of advanced functionality is actually a bonus, and in fact has become a key selling point. They offer only a subset of what the heavier ECM or Collaboration tools offer, but do it in a much simpler and better way.

There's another reason for the current split in the marketplace. Tools such as Documentum or FileNet are not really architected for providing services in a cloud-centric model. If you don't believe me, try asking a business user to self-provision a site using one of these tools. And this is why many of these traditional ECM/DM tools actually integrate with relatively simple cloud-based file sharing tools, and also why EMC acquired Syncplicty.

We review many of these tools in our forth coming cloud file sharing and collaboration report. Contact us to get notified as soon as this evaluation research is released later this month.

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