EMC and Microsoft dance a ‘Duet’ for ECM

EMC's Documentum will support Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 database later this quarter, says vice president

EMC and Microsoft are stepping up their existing enterprise content management (ECM) relationship substantially to provide tighter integration between EMC’s Documentum ECM software and Microsoft’s Office, Outlook and SharePoint products.

As part of the expanded relationship, EMC’s Documentum will support Microsoft’s SQL Server 2005 database later this quarter, according to John McCormick, vice president of product and content management.

EMC also plans to bring out two services designed to link Documentum and Microsoft software content and archiving, he says. The two services are set to debut early in the first quarter of 2007 as Microsoft releases SharePoint Server 2007. EMC expects to release pricing for the two services — EMC Documentum Content Services for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and EMC Documentum Archive Services for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 — later this year.

The idea is to have Microsoft software as the front-end for Documentum software as a way to increase the number of users of EMC’s products and give more Microsoft customers easier access to complex ECM functionality.

It’s the same strategy Microsoft is adopting with a number of applications partners, notably with SAP around the Duet product, says Rob Bernard, general manager of Microsoft’s global independent software vendor team. Formerly known as Project Mendocino, Duet was jointly developed by Microsoft and SAP to let users access data and processes from SAP’s back-end business applications via Microsoft’s front-end desktop Office software suite.

“This is the culmination of a vision we’ve been working on for a number of years,” Bernard says. “It’s about unifying the front-end with the back-end that the casual user needs to interact with in ECM, ERP and CRM.”

The move is part of a major shift under way in today’s software industry, according to Melissa Webster, programme director, content and digital media technologies at IDC. Vendors are beginning to collaborate to make it much easier for users to have full, unimpeded access to enterprise applications from their familiar desktop productivity software.

“Overall, we are seeing all of the major ECM vendors actively building tight links into desktop tools like Outlook and partnering aggressively with Microsoft,” she says.

Using the upcoming Documentum archive services, users can manually or automatically flow content from SharePoint repositories to a Documentum repository while also being allowed to access and search the content from the SharePoint Server 2007 software. Archiving SharePoint content in Documentum should help companies meet compliance regulations, McCormick says. Unlike Duet, the services are only being offered by EMC.

The previous ECM relationship between EMC and Microsoft was more reactive than proactive, Bernard says. McCormick agrees. “Before we worked on [Documentum] integration with Office and Outlook 2003,” he says. “Microsoft supplied the tools, EMC or our partners built-out the solution. This is different. EMC and Microsoft are together.”

As yet, the two companies aren’t working together on web content management, but that could be the next step.