Rumors swirl EMC wants to dump Documentum ahead of Dell acquisition

Rumors are flying today that to nobody’s surprise, EMC and by extension its new sugar Daddy Dell are looking to dump dowdy Documentum, the company’s enterprise content management product.

It’s worth noting up front that in email to EMC asking for a comment on the story, a spokesperson had this to say: “Not commenting on speculation.” You can’t get much more succinct then that, can you?

Documentum is the grandaddy of ECM. It started a market that is beginning to show its age as companies move away from expensive, monolithic tools that take months or years to implement. To its credit over the years, Documentum has tried to keep up — its latest attempt is known as Project Horizon where it tries to move to the cloud and break up the complexity of enterprise content management software.

Regardless of its evolution, it seems pretty clear it’s on the market and let’s face it, Dell needs cash to finance that mother of a debt load it took on when it agreed to purchase EMC last year for $67 billion. With a pile of debt that’s sitting somewhere around $50 billion, it was clear both companies would have to start selling pieces to make the deal work.

Just last month Dell dumped Perot Systems for $3.05 billion, around half of the reported asking price. Other deals are reportedly in the works for Quest and Sonicwall. Now it’s time for the baby to sell some stuff too and Documentum is a logical choice.

As for Documentum, it could actually be a relief for the team to be out from under EMC where it was never really a great fit, according to Alan Pelz-Sharpe, who covers content technologies for Digital Clarity Group.

“I honestly think they will make a good buy for a private equity firm or even the likes of Oracle. ECM may not be very sexy but massive government, defense, healthcare and financial services operations use this as their core platform and always will,” he said.

Beyond that core though, enterprise content management vendors have always struggled to justify their value proposition inside the enterprise. In recent years, the technology has moved to the cloud like so much enterprise software, looking to remove the inherent complexity in managing content in older systems like Documentum.

In the end, it’s probably a case that Dell didn’t see much value in EMC holding onto Documentum, and it will give them one less thing to worry about when the sale goes through at some point this year.