Moving on

Tomorrow will be my last day with EMC after developing an 11-year career that began at Documentum.

I will always remember the Documentum of 1998. We were right in the middle of “Project Piper,” which released as Documentum 4i. My team was focused on delivering the first version of the Documentum Desktop (aka Desktop Client), the successor to Workspace. 4i saw the dawn of our commitment to Java in the middle tier, centered within the first version of DFC also released with 4i. Our first software acquisition (Relevance), also occurred around the same time. Some of my closest friends and colleagues since that time came from Relevance.

At roughly 650 employees when I joined back on 6/1/1998, Documentum had been public for awhile but hadn’t yet lost the startup ethos. It was the era of Jeff Miller at the helm. Perhaps our CEO’s most repeated statement was “we may not always be right, but at least we aren’t confused.” Jeff was a strong leader, who knew how to stay connected with employees and cared about people.

Every week featured the roach coach, which meant free breakfast, courtesy of Howard Shao. Eventually Howard became aware that certain engineers had decided to use the roach coach for their entire daily allowance of food; so, free breakfast became free espresso beverage and the need to rush to the food line to vy for that certain scone became moot.

There were food drives that literally involved flatbed trucks, palettes, and wiping out the local food stores of rices, flour, beans and other food stuffs that weighed a lot. You see, engineering was on a mission to keep Howard (one of our co-founders along with John Newton) at the top of the annual executive/department contests to provide the most food for area shelters. And trust me, we were all very motivated as some of the contests meant that those executives who didn’t “win” had to sing to everyone else at the Christmas party. You brought your significant other to these parties. You dressed up for these parties. You didn’t want Howard to sing at these parties. (Who let the dogs out?)

No long after 4i, it was clear that applications were moving to the web. Web Development Kit (WDK) was born to usher in the shift from client-server to web-based applications. Initially targeting application servers and browsers, WDK matured to become the basis for portal servers and integrations, as well as integrations into prevailing authoring environments. Application Connectors development during D5.x was all about changing the conversation with providers of content authoring environments.

Prior to D5.x, Documentum moved from its offices on Gibraltar into its current digs in Koll Center. While the new offices were much nicer, they never had the same feel as building 3. Never underestimate the value of good building layout, particularly how it can encourage or impact collaboration. There was an (unsuccessful) effort to erect a basketball court and/or a sand volleyball court. (We got a fountain and courtyard instead.)

Soon Documentum celebrated its 10th anniversary as a public company. Prior to that, Documentum stock saw a high (factoring in splits, etc.) of $120. I recall rebuking colleagues that sold at 40, 50 and 60. Clearly, they were the smart ones as the bubble burst and eventually the stock dipped below $12. However the company was growing both organically and by acquisition, and it largely led the charge to define and redefine what ECM meant. (Arguably there is still much activity and debate about how ECM should be defined to this day.)

It was the era of the rockstar. It was an era that I wish hadn’t occurred. Give me a rockstar company, not a company of rockstars, any day! (You can keep your Dirk de Wow campaign; thanks.)

Documentum had grown to 1150 employees and had grown accustomed to being the acquirer, most notably acquiring eRoom. Then EMC acquired Documentum.

Personally this meant working in violation to one of my career principles: always work at headquarters to have the best sense of business’s pulse and buzz.

However, I came to appreciate the broader EMC culture and its remarkable technology portfolio. Since Documentum’s acquisition, EMC has continued to develop a culture and a model of acquisition and integration that is the rightful envy of industry. Great people.

Perhaps the area most noticeable to me involves social media and collaboration both internal and external with the wider community. If it’s a secret how well EMC “gets” this stuff, it won’t be for much longer.

I had the benefit of a 5-year sabbatical from Documentum prior to EMC’s acquisition. During this great refreshment, I decided to delve into the emerging world of feeds, blogs, etc. Looking back on the beginning of this blog, I laugh aloud. I must have bored very few people. But I developed my voice and I began to migrate from tacit to tangible, establishing a concrete online reputation.

The vast majority of my experience online has been incredibly positive. Being able to interact with you my reader, to more personally support my partners and customers, to stay connected with colleagues, etc. has benefited me every bit it may have benefited you. I’m a far richer person for engaging.

Community is the thing I most cherish about how Documentum Foundation Services (DFS), Documentum RESTful Services, and Documentum Interoperability Services (aka platform CMIS support) have taken shape. Integration and composition have never been more relevant to today’s software solutions, and these technologies are well-positioned to deliver significant business value. You’ve partnered with the team through early access programs, and the software is better for it. Service-oriented development and support is in good hands as I depart, and I’m very optimistic about the team and these offerings.

So, why then am I leaving EMC?

Simply put, I’m due for a change. I never thought I’d be at one company for as long as I’ve been with EMC. EMC is, indeed, a good company with great people. However, a unique opportunity has found me, and I’m compelled to pursue it.

This post will probably be “it” for awhile from me, as I’ll be heads down, ramping up on my role and responsibilities. Once I’m settled in my new gig, though, you’ll know.

Thanks again for engaging with me, sharing your ideas, asking questions, providing constructive criticism, etc.

Until next time…