It is always fun to look back at and share a bit of techie history.With the recent “retirement” of Howard Shao (the founder of Documentum) – I thought I would share the story of how Documentum and EMC came together. I put retirement in quote as, for those of you who know Howard, even his hobbies are way too intense to be categorized a retirement.

Howard and I first met at a dinner in southern CA. It would have been great to say that it was at some world-class restaurant but it was closer to a Denny’s as I recall. The original purpose of the meeting was to simply discuss Documentum and Centera integration. As we talked, it was clear that we shared the same philosophy about the evolution of information and content management. At the time, Documentum was actively growing to serve many of the largest Content-centric applications. What was unique to Documentum over the other players, however, was that they were taking a platform-centric approach where most of the components were re-used and the “last mile” integrations for specific applications was being done though the addition of web-services either by Documentum or by partners. When they did acquisitions, a top-priority was always to integrate to the platform. This allowed for greater leverage but also, indirectly, was setting up a framework for doing something even more powerful – building a key building block for an Information Infrastructure. 

As we continued to talk, it was clear that we both saw the market evolving the same way. IT is clearly all about information and most of it was going to be “unstructured data” – meaning files. The initial need was to help customers leverage and manage this information to better serve individual applications but we both saw the end-game as something different. The ultimate value was managing information such that it could be leveraged by multiple applications, shared, and built with automated workflows that would allow for simplified management throughout the entire information lifecycle.

When we acquired Documentum, the primary focus still remained on solving individual application needs but the vision was (and is) far greater. It is to build an Information Infrastructure capable of leveraging information in ways that were not even imagined only a few years ago. 

That vision is starting to be realized in what we are building today. With the evolution of SOA and web services, more and more applications are being integrated. The information created is being managed more securely, it is managed across tiered storage more easily, and most importantly, it is being leveraged for greater value.

It has been great pleasure to have worked with Howard and to continue to work with the Documentum team today on realizing this vision. When we acquired Documentum, there were only a few that understood the true potential in moving from Application-centric to Information-centric IT. Today, the value is clearly apparent as we see more and more customers moving all of their information assets into managed environments using Enterprise Content Management and building the first true Information Infrastructures. 

Thanks Howard!



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