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Migrating content from Documentum to Microsoft 365: What challenges should I be aware of?

by Sjoerd Alkema, on Jun 4, 2020 12:15:00 PM

One of our most common and most asked for content migration, is Documentum to Microsoft 365. There are a few specific challenges in mapping and restructuring that you need to take into account when doing these migrations. My colleague has written a blog about this before, but I will share some other specific challenges that may occur when migrating your content from Documentum to Microsoft 365.

Documentum can be implemented in different ways and is widely used by large organizations in Manufacturing, Health Care, Finance and Government. Before Documentum was acquired by OpenText, EMC created specific solutions on top of the Document Management layer, which always remained the same, but holds specific functionality. This results in challenges while migrating to Microsoft365. I will cover a few of them today.  

Migrating content from Documentum to Microsoft 365: What challenges should I be aware of?

  • Document Renditions

Renditions are representations of a document in a different format. In other words, the only difference between a document and its rendition is its format. Examples are original TIFF files that have a JPG rendition for publishing on a website, or word documents with a PDF rendition for archiving.

In SharePoint there is no option to have different file types in one document object presentation, but there are different ways to not loose any logic or original context. You could place them both in the same folder with the metadata of the original file, but it is better to create a document set. This will result in a document set that holds the renditions and has the metadata of the original file.

  • Virtual documents.

Virtual documents in Documentum are documents that are linked to build up a larger document. A project in which we had to handle large manuals immediately comes to mind. I’m not talking about your home TV manual, but about manuals of an Airplane for instance, or checklists containing thousands and thousands of different documents that can be maintained and authored separately but need to retain their relation.

 A virtual document can be seen as a container (hence a folder), which brings us to the solution: migrating the parent- child relationships in folders. If desired, this could be extended with linking to the url of your child or parent.

 Another option is to start with a document set. If one document is used in multiple virtual documents, we would migrate this once and link to the original via a url.

  • Document linking

Linking from one document to another is very common in many ECM systems. SharePoint also supports linking, but this creates a link object that links to a URL, and what you want isn't to link a file to a file. If a Documentum document is linked to another document, Xillio is able to capture this in the extraction. The migration then takes place in two steps. First, we migrate all content, and then we update the documents that were linked with a URL to that document in a column that has been specifically created for this purpose. You can have links to multiple documents, so it is important to identify how many links there are and how many links showed up in the analysis. Once this is known,  you can cater for this in setting up the right SharePoint configuration.

  • Branching of versions

Well, this is a challenge and quite unique for Documentum. Branching means you can start a separate branch of versions from a version in the first branch. I have to say, it is not widely used, but if it does occur, here’s how you could handle this when you move to O365. During an extraction, we identify where the branch occurred. This document will now be the original document for the versions to come after this. This means you will have documents as starting document that were a version of another document originally. This should be address in the metadata and could be linked again to the document with a URL. As the functionality is no longer there (at least not at the moment in O365) the goal here is purely to easily retain the original context, and not to recreate the same functionality.  

Within these 4 topics, there are again specific differences that might need to be taken into account or combinations of all the above topics are possible. Every migration is different. As we’ve done so many migrations, we think we’ve seen it all. But feel free to challenge us!

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Topics:SharePointEnterprise Content ManagementCloudDocumentumContent MigrationLegacy

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