Customer Success

We’re pleased to introduce a guest blog post from Dave Giordano, President and Founder of Technology Services Group, an Alfresco Strategic System Integrator and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partner.  Dave is a technical architect and visionary with deep experience in enterprise content management.  He is widely regarded, having 21 years of experience with legacy ECM systems. In this post, Dave shares his thoughts on the dynamics happening in the ECM space and how customers can take advantage of modern technology and the cloud.

Technology Services Group (TSG) has multiple customers on “vintage” legacy ECM systems that have postponed go decisions for years.  With new capabilities for cloud dramatically reducing costs, many clients are reconsidering their stay decision.

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Legacy ECM – If I go, there will be trouble, but if I stay it will be double

Legacy ECM customers, while never thrilled with support over the last 10+ years, often stay. Here’s why:

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Building and moving content, integrations and processes can be costly and difficult. But if the legacy system breaks, can it be fixed? Particularly if the development on old technology was done by employees or consultants that are gone?
  • It’s already paid for – Moving requires additional funds. While true, at 25% maintenance, legacy ECM systems are repurchased every 4 years in addition to other expensive components in the ECM stack. lack of easy alternatives – Moving from a known commodity to something new requires explaining to why something is better than the product selected 10 to 20 years ago. The new alternative has to have both cost and technology advantages.


With the OpenText purchase of Documentum, we proposed three measurements to evaluate OpenText’s commitment to investing in Documentum:

  • Maintain talent – From talking to multiple ex-Documentum employees, ECD was cut by OpenText across all areas particularly focused on long-time Documentum resources. The cuts and attrition directly affect OpenText’s ability to invest in the core components of Documentum.
  • Invest in the future – From our keynote review of OpenText Enterprise World 2017, OpenText was focused on other initiatives around analytics and the OpenText cloud.  We would anticipate that any “investment” is really to upsell opportunities like a shared interface or add-ons.
  • Bring other positives – It is difficult to see how OpenText brings other positives to the Documentum install base. We would consider OpenText’s plethora of overlapping products more of a detriment to Documentum customers than a positive, particularly when it comes to partnering with cloud infrastructure leaders like Microsoft Azure and AWS.

OpenText is more focused on the “what’s next” in regards to analytics, robotics and their proprietary cloud rather than how Documentum (or OpenText Content Manager) would be improved.

Earlier this year, we updated our Alfresco vs Documentum comparison white paper, where you can get our analysis of how the two platforms stack up.

FileNet and IBM

Similar to Documentum, we surmised that FileNet might be sold by IBM.  IBM has treated FileNet as a “cash cow” within the IBM family of products for years.  The concern for FileNet customers and employees is the focus IBM has on the “new” and not on FileNet including:

  • Consulting – Should IBM improve FileNet or just sell consulting services to patch any issues or upsell to other products/services?
  • Cloud – IBM has been very focused on their cloud offerings. FileNet, and particularly legacy FileNet, isn’t really cloud friendly.
  • Box – IBM has a tight relationship with Box. Does the Box partnership take away from FileNet?
  • Watson – IBM is very focused on Watson.  Will FileNet get the right focus from IBM to innovate?

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Adding cloud to the “Should I stay or should I go” decision

Moving to the cloud can provide infrastructure cost savings to more than justify the cost and effort of migrating.  Moving to the cloud can involve two types of platforms:

  • Software as a Service (SAAS) – a providers’ ECM cloud environment where the provider offers software and infrastructure maintenance. e., FileNet with IBM’s cloud or Documentum/OpenText with their own proprietary SAAS environment.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) –an infrastructure provider not just for ECM but for other corporate systems and environments. The client is still managing their infrastructure just with all hardware rentable in the provider’s cloud.  (example:  AWS and Microsoft Azure)

TSG has seen minimal ECM growth with SAAS while IAAS continues to expand rapidly.  Some thoughts on reasons include:

  • Growth and adoption – For a quick comparison, in 2016, Box (SAAS) had $300 million in revenue with a $100 million loss, AWS (IAAS) had $13 billion in revenue with a $3 billion profit.
  • Cost Concerns – Clients have found that over the long-term, SAAS isn’t really a cheaper option.
  • Lock-In Concerns – With a proprietary interface, clients are worried about the future of SAAS vendors and their long-term viability and product direction while holding onto clients’ documents.

Why OpenText and IBM will struggle with IAAS

In May, we wrote a post titled, Is a Large ECM Suite really that Sweet? It is not that FileNet, Documentum or OpenText couldn’t work on AWS or Azure, it is that IBM and OpenText would rather sell their cloud offering suite.  By default, an AWS or Azure alternative for IBM or OpenText is something less and discouraged.  During the OpenText keynote, OpenText viewed AWS or Azure as slightly better than on-premise and promoted their proprietary cloud.  IBM has a similar issue with IAAS providers.

Alfresco and AWS

TSG has been implementing Alfresco and AWS (10+ production clients) as a cost-effective alternative to legacy ECM:

  • Alfresco is “all in” with AWS – Alfresco focuses and invests on partnering and engineering their products and company to work better with AWS.
  • Alfresco is optimized for AWSAWS benchmarks, Alfresco connectors like S3, DB integration like Aurora DB as well as pre-built components and Alfresco AWS Quick Start make Alfresco on AWS installations easier and faster.
  • On-Premise or Cloud – Alfresco provides the same core components for both the cloud and on-premise providing alternatives for clients.

Summary – should I cool it or should I blow?

With the cloud, cost savings and rapid growth of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) vendors like AWS, legacy ECM customers are considering cloud ECM alternatives.  While concern about the effort of moving documents and integrations to a new platform has in the past pushed clients to delay leaving, the cost savings and capabilities of AWS combined with Alfresco dramatically reduce costs and make the “should I go” dilemma that much easier.

Connect with Dave on Twitter to join the conversation about legacy ECM and moving to the cloud #alfresco #cloud #ecm.

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