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7/30/2007
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EMC Documentum 6 Upgrade Makes it Easier on IT

If content management is to spread "enterprisewide," development can't complex, cumbersome process. With SOA improvements, Eclipse standardization and configuration enhancements, EMC streamlines with IT in mind.

News of EMC's big Documentum 6 release is rolling out bit by bit. Today's announcement focuses on ease and speed of deployment, with highlights on services-oriented architecture (SOA), development, configuration and caching upgrades aimed at IT departments. The big-picture explanation is that enterprise content management (ECM) products like Documentum are fast becoming corporate standards (along with IBM/FileNet, Oracle/Stellent, OpenText, and, some would admit, Microsoft SharePoint), so IT folks want a faster, easier way to build, test and deploy applications throughout the enterprise.

On the SOA front, the platform's API has been overhauled to simplify and streamline services-oriented development. "Before, we took our API and just added Web service wrappers," admits Karin Ondricek, a senior marketing manager. "This is complete rearchitecture of the API to be much more efficient and easier to use." As an example, Ondricek says importing a directory into the system used to involve a multi-step process, but those steps have been aggregated in the Documentum 6 API into simple "create object" service. EMC also has replaced proprietary terminology with developer-friendly labels describing exactly what the services do.

In another upgrade aimed at easing development, EMC has replaced the Builder and Installer components with Documentum Composer, which offers a set of Eclipse-based tools. The plug-in tools are said to offer greater consistency as you switch between tools. For example, Eclipse automatically tracks dependencies and maintains context as you switch between tools, reducing the possibility of deployment slip ups and easing troubleshooting.

To minimize coding demands, the Documentum 6 Webtop interface offers more extensive configuration capabilities so app interfaces can be customized fit roles, locations, object types, workflows, life cycles and so on without development delays. In addition, an "Aspects" control has been added to support the changing context of content. For example, different document types typically have different retention and life cycle controls, but they may all become "records" the minute they're e-mailed to someone outside the organization. Aspects let you add a layer of contextual control across document types based on events or other triggers that demand new handling requirements.

With an eye toward distributed deployments, existing Branch Office Caching Services (BOCS) capabilities have been upgraded in Documentum 6. BOCS speeds check-out so users don't have to wait for documents to download from a central server that might be half way around the globe. The upgrade includes "predictive caching" that handles synchronization behind the scenes without administrative support, and it also improves check-in performance, so users don't have to wait for documents to write back to central servers.

To highlight what Ondricek calls the "radically improved ease of development" in Document 6, EMC is hosting a "2007 EMC Documentum Web Services Developer Challenge" that will award $100,000 to the developers of "the best application," as judged by a panel of ECM executives, independent analysts and editors. The rules of the August-to-September contest are posted on the EMC Developer Network website.

EMC previously announced "transactional content management" enhancements in Documentum 6 in May. Those improvements include new business process management capabilities and customizable "Task Space" client for handling content-intensive (read, imaging-oriented) processes. The Documentum 6 platform will be released in late August.

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