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Suspense builds. Tension unbearable. As the cards turn…it is, of course, Miss Scarlett (the old fishmonger, Mustard, was never cunning enough to pull this off), with the rope in the (WHAT?!) Library… Those of you with fond childhood, or more recent, memories of Cluedo would have surely related to today’s EMC/Fatwire partnership news. In the worst kept secret category, EMC has effectively chosen to supplant its own Web Content Management (WCM) offerings with Fatwire’s, best in class, offering and in-turn chip in with some DAM going the other way, and, interestingly, only take a minority equity stake at Fatwire.

Solution-wise, this is actually good news for clients…in the longterm: richer functionality, better ease of use, tight focus on WCM, proven winner. Ultimately, WCM to EMC Documentum was the Super G to Tomba la Bomba: good, but not quite Aamodt-esque (apologies in advance for the indulgence in Winter Olympics rhetoric; seemed appropriate though given the wall to wall TV coverage and the three feet of snow we’re in here in DC). However, this direction does pose some intriguing questions:

  • How tightly would Fatwire’s product work with EMC Documentum? Whose repository rules when it comes to WCM? Can the repositories truly co-exist merrily (possibly through CMIS)? Emmm…what happened to the whole one repository thing?
  • What happens to clients’ existing Web Publisher (WP) based solution? Stick with it? Live without it? Migrate to Fatwire? Throw another 3rd party tool in the mix? Start from scratch? Chuck the whole thing and Salesforce.com it?
  • Operationally, who takes the lead, EMC Support or Fatwire? What about overlaps? How about licensing for existing solutions? Functionality vs. Risk?
  • Technically, what’s the impact? What would the security model look like? How do you migrate?
  • If the sunsetting of WDK and WP are both inevitable, what’s the recipe to upgrade? What tools and support will EMC provide to ease the process?

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of questions and sharper minds than mine will surely have scripted-answers for them and more. History, though, tells me to tread with caution. Inevitably, enterprise class solutions are burdened with enterprise class complexity (and likely not just because of the technology). Time, budget, people, skills, political battlegrounds, management knowhow and many other factors may well play a part and tint the lens with which you view the questions.

So, where else might destiny’s child poke its nose? Of course, I don’t know for a fact, nor would want to speculate. However, looking at the gaps in the kitbag of some of the larger ECM vendors, I can’t help but wonder whether the next case management, records management, ediscovery, collaboration (read: Sharepoint) or content migration “partnership” announcement is just around the corner.

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