Xerox Takes On New ChallengesBy Jim Rapoza | Print
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Review: Docushare CPX 5.01 takes document management up a notch with collaboration.When your company name is synonymous with documents, people expect that your products will be strong when it comes to document management.
But what happens when document management starts to mean a whole lot more than just controlling how documents are created, stored, changed and tracked within a company?
How well will a document-centric company do when document management means handling things such as collaboration, document security and even BPM (business process management)?
During eWEEK Labs' tests, DocuShare CPX 5.01, which was released in August, proved solid in the core document management areas of collection, routing and tracking.
And DocuShare still has one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use browser-based interfaces of any document management system we've tested.
We also were pleasantly surprised by DocuShare CPX 5.01's powerful abilities in meeting management, interactive content and group collaboration.
Indeed, to a large degree, this DocuShare release is a more direct competitor to Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server 2003 than it is to large-scale enterprise document management systems such as FileNet (recently acquired by IBM) and EMC's Documentum.
This makes some sense, as DocuShare has always been more of a midmarket solution that focused on ease of use and deployment.
And when you compare DocuShare CPX 5.01 head-to-head with SharePoint Portal Server 2003, DocuShare looks very good: It competes well in the collaboration and group interaction areas and offers much more robust document management capabilities than SharePoint does.
And, of course, unlike the Windows-only SharePoint, the Java Server-based DocuShare CPX 5.01 runs on most server platforms and isn't tied to Microsoft's Office or Internet Explorer for its collaboration features.
With all these strong capabilities, it seems somewhat strange that Xerox has decided to push DocuShare CPX 5.01 as a BPM platform.
The product does have some nice rules and routing options for controlling the flow of documents and forms-based activities, but it comes up seriously short if you look at it solely as a BPM solution.
DocuShare CPX 5.01 lacks support for core BPM standards such as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and doesn't have the advanced orchestration designs necessary for true BPM.
However, as a document-centric enterprise content management solution, DocuShare CPX 5.01 is among the better solutions we've seen and deserves serious consideration by any business looking for a simple-to-manage-and-deploy ECM platform that provides strong collaboration and doesn't scrimp on enterprise-class features.
Pricing for a 100-seat implementation of DocuShare CPX 5.01 starts at $45,000on par with SharePoint Portal Server's pricing and quite affordable when compared with some large-scale ECM systems.
For organizations that need just the core document management system, DocuShare 5.01 is available starting at $4,500 for 20 seats.
Next Page: Web 2.0 push.
Web 2.0 Push
Like many corporate ECM products, DocuShare has made a big push into the Web 2.0 world.
DocuShare CPX 5.01's new integrated wiki and blogging features won't be serious competition for dedicated wiki or blogging applications, but they will be useful for simple internal use, such as providing feedback and information on company projects, standards and requirements.
These Web 2.0 features, along with most of the platform's collaboration capabilities, are maintained within what DocuShare calls workspaces, which are essentially just shared project collaboration spaces.
We found the tools for creating and managing workspaces to be very good, making it possible to create unique and interactive workspaces for our different group projects.
In addition to standard options such as interactive calendars and to-do lists, DocuShare CPX 5.01 let us create group-editable documents, meeting spaces and spreadsheetlike tables, all managed in flexible group meeting areas.
The product also has built-in integration with WebEx Communications' conferencing servers, making it possible to tie in live meetings to group workspaces.
Although DocuShare CPX 5.01 comes up a little short from a BPM purist's point of view, it can be used to create powerful routing rules and event notifications for content and documentswith one significant weakness.
Within DocuShare CPX 5.01, we could create a content rule for any object within a collection and apply a whole host of conditions and actions to take when a condition occurred.
These rules were easy to create and provided lots of options for automatically tracking and controlling content.
However, there was no way to save and reuse rules, so we often found ourselves re-creating a rule when we should have been able to just select it from a list of rules we had already developed.
This was surprising because the latter method is exactly how DocuShare CPX 5.01 handles content routing and the creation of routing rules.
When routing content, we could create simple but capable workflow rules so that we could, for example, request a review of a document by a group and trigger other routing steps if certain actions took place or if the review wasn't completed by a certain date.
And we could save these routing rules for use at other times, letting us quickly apply them to other content.
DocuShare CPX 5.01 includes the fairly standard ability to add and attach comments to any piece of content within the system, and its simple but welcome exporting feature made it possible to send content to external FTP servers.
DocuShare can convert content to HTML for viewing online, and Version 5.01 adds a convert-to-PDF feature that leverages OpenOffice.org's OpenOffice (which must be installed on the server system) for the actual conversion.
Several useful new capabilities have been added on the classic document management side of DocuShare, including a federation feature that makes it possible to link several different DocuShare servers.
DocuShare CPX can leverage external authentication systems and directories, and, with Version 5.01, users can apply fairly strict rules on how passwords are created and renewed.´
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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