Update: EMC, Microsoft perform 'Duet' around ECM

Companies announce an expanded alliance on ECM, with Documentum to support SQL Server 2005

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

As part of the expanded relationship announced Tuesday, EMC's Documentum will support Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 database later this quarter, according to John McCormick, vice president of product management, content management software at EMC

EMC also plans to bring out two services designed to link Documentum and Microsoft software content and archiving, he said. 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 AG around the Duet product, said 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 said. "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, program 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 said.

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

The previous ECM relationship between EMC and Microsoft was more reactive than proactive, Bernard said. McCormick agreed. "Before we worked on [Documentum] integration with Office and Outlook 2003," he said. "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 a logical next step to further expand their relationship, the executives noted.

"Although EMC hasn't made an overt push to partner with Microsoft in the past, it has certainly made up for that with this announcement, which essentially maps its entire product portfolio against Microsoft's to demonstrate value add," Webster said. "The scope of the intended product integration makes up for the silence we've seen up to now."

The tie-up with EMC is one of many partnerships Microsoft has with ECM players, although none of those rivals have quite the same strength in related markets like storage as does EMC, she added.

Webster doesn't expect Microsoft and EMC to bump heads much next year when Microsoft becomes an ECM vendor with the launch of SharePoint Services 2007. With a new product, Microsoft will look to address the needs of customers who've been waiting for it to have an ECM presence rather than take business away from EMC's long-established Documentum, she said.

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