Some economics to consider

eRoom’s days are numbered.  I remain a fan but I’m realistic.  Why?  Simple economics.   Sharepoint Services is free — and customers are looking to reduce costs today wherever possible.  And switching off of eRoom will save money in the short run.   The return on investment to hire some consultant or 2 to migrate off of eRoom will be recouped in a year as companies save the maintenance/support they used to pay EMC.  

Now MOSS will cost them down the road and it’s unsure if these eRoom customers actually consider the total cost of ownership and how Sharepoint might affect that over time.   The reality is that Sharepoint is untested in a large deployment — and no one really knows what type of mess it might create down the road.  You just might be migrating one mess of eroom, documentum, notes, fileshares to an even bigger consolidated mess in sharepoint —  that is if its deployment and growth are not managed properly.  

And keep in mind that it’s not easy to do migrate off a platform like eRoom…as eRoom in most organizations as mission critical an application as email.   The switching costs are high.  Even a small installation with 1 eRoom server and a few hundred rooms and a few hundred gb of data is not a trivial migration.   Imagine 7 servers or 20 servers and terabytes of data.   Sure you can write some code that dumps data out of eRoom and puts it into Sharepoint.   However, the project planning and change management planning that needs to go into this does takes many months if not longer and is a significant investment.   I think the point here is simple economics. 

I think EMC shouldn’t forget why thousands of customers use eRoom today and grew eRoom so quickly in their organization….it’s called user adoption as eRoom was easier to setup,  easy to install, easy to use (compared to the alternatives) — which made it a very economical application with a solid ROI.   And customers paid for that convenience (with licensing costs).  However, today customers no longer have to pay for the same convenience as Microsoft gives WSS away and offers a comparative collaboration and content management alternative.   And you’ve got other web 2.0 competitors jumping on the bandwagon making it a more competitive landscape now.  So you have to look at simple economics if you want to compete.  

Anyway, one word of caution for anyone thinking of migrating to Sharepoint….eRoom and Documentum have been battle tested for many years — and Sharepoint has not been tested.   And as someone who has spent years traveling the globe making this technology work over the last decade, troubleshooted headache after headache after headache — it is NOT easy to scale and manage any collaboration & content management application.   Sure, sharepoint has tight integration with office and WSS is free and there are some very positive feature of the application as a whole.   HOWEVER…I leave you with this final thought….

Collaboration & content management technology has become and will continue to become mission criticial for managing projects and streamlining and running your business processes.   Economics is really important to consider….   But so is reliability and scalability.   Think about it – can you live without email today?   Yes and no…but if email is down, it’s a headache for a CIO to hear the user complaints.   So if I’m a CIO — do you want to trust your mission critical business processes to something that has not been tested and proven????    If it goes down….if it doesn’t quite work right….or doesn’t scale right…. do you want to trust your business on it?    So seriously think about that as you think about saving costs in the short run.   Take baby steps if you are going to migrate…. think about context, make sure you are close your users, and get the right advice.  Be skeptical of the cool demos, song and dance, and marketing before you make an investment in this type of technology – no matter what platform you choose.


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