Prelude to a product offering

Although I’m posting this today, I originally sent the following thoughts via email on 7/3/2002 to my GM at the time–subject “Preface for our 1-1 about future architecture (.NET & J2EE) – some (hopefully) thought-provoking analogies.” The email in its entirety (and unedited) follows.

At the time I sent my remarks I wouldn’t have thought that it would be until roughly five years later that SOA enablement would become initial reality in the form of EMC Documentum Foundation Services.

Hi [GM].

I thought that I’d precede our discussion on this topic with some analogies that I see developing for business around “service-oriented architectures” like the one I described for DCTM in its future.

Do you visit Starbucks regularly? How about the movie theater? Sporting events?

Imagine if these vendors told you that you had to pony up a year or more’s worth of mocha/latte purchase, movie or game tickets (plus concessions) before you could enter the premises; however, if you did so, you’d be able to enter regularly thereafter without additional cost. But please be advised, if you bought the matinee package, you could only see matinees; if you purchased tall lattes, venti mochas or Frappuccino® are out of the question. Would you still pay your money to Starbucks, etc?

Some folks might, under these terms, but MSFT and others are betting that more enterprises are more inclined to pay for what they need (or even what they don’t), if they pay smaller amounts for more discrete, value-added services. The days of MSFT being able to annually charge its customers $400~500 for the next Office application suite upgrade are drawing to a close. Office .NET is a realization of this by MSFT.

Consider the modern phone with its support for caller ID, call waiting, etc.

Pacific Bell (SBC) allows its customers to choose to pay-as-you-use or to pay a flat monthly rate for unlimited usage of such features. The customer has the phone, but the phone company has the centralized service. The phone is only as good as its service.

MSFT, for example, is positioning Windows in all its various forms (PC, PDA, XBox, WebTV and soon the Tablet PC) as the software equivalent of the modern phone–ully capable of hosting rich services from multiple enterprises. .NET is akin to SBC phone lines–tying together desktops with servers, delivering software services on demand just like your local utilities. MSFT talks about “software as a service.” The computing platform (e.g. PC) will be defined by the services it supports and presents.

Clearly, DCTM is in a strong position to become the service provider for enterprise content management. We have an opportunity to draw additional revenue through exploiting our capabilities within service-based environments and through service-aware clients–“smart clients” as MSFT calls them.

Hopefully these analogies will be though-provoking over the long weekend. I look forward to picking up our discussion this coming Monday afternoon.


Of course here in late 2007, there is still the whole matter of Software-as-a-Services (SaaS) to address in EMC’s Content Management & Archiving (CMA) division.