Howard Shao: Changing the World

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Blue Fish:

In different speeches and press releases you say that architecture

cannot be an after thought. What do you mean by that?


One thing about building software is it’s very like building a house.

Actually, believe it or not, in the computer science program at MIT the

professor taught us architecture is everything.

As an example, if you look at a mouse which is very agile running
around the earth, but the fact is if you blow [him] to the size of an
elephant he will collapse on his own weight because [his] bone is
hollow. Even though on the surface it looks like “why couldn’t mouse

scale,” but the fact is structurally [he] was designed for that size and

purpose and (it’s) the same thing [when] building a house.

When you have a foundation that’s good for one or two stories, if

you build ten floors on top of that, it will topple. Same thing for

software, data structures, layering, partition of the system. If you

didn’t think through it doesn’t scale and that’s what I mean by after

thoughts. Obviously you could renovate and you’ve got all the other

things you could potentially do, but it’s often very painful.

In our world, we often talk about how our system is scalable and

that’s reflected in multiple ways. The most fundamental aspect is our

data model. To draw an analogy, when I was young, we used to do our

programming in FORTRAN or C. We learn it’s very easy to write a data

structure for storing elements. You can allocate an array, and using

index to access it or you can build a linked list which takes more

effort. So why wouldn’t everything be array? Everything could, except

if you try to insert something in the middle of an array. It becomes a

very painful task.

So it’s for what purpose it has and how you plan to grow it are

affecting the design decision. You had to think through what is the

purpose, what’s the intent of the scalability, to what range and what

type of operation are you going to exert on that and then you come to a

conclusion as what proper schema or model are you going to have. It is

the thoughtfulness pays off.

Frankly we do make mistakes because it’s very hard to anticipate

what the future will be like ten, fifteen, twenty years from now.

Sometime, even if [we] can anticipate, we may not be able to afford to

build it the right way. So, from time to time, we actually

re-architected or cleaned up the portions which we know we could have

done better. So we don’t just continue building (the) house.

Occasionally we anticipate that the next level is going to exceed our

foundation and we’ll go back and clean up the foundation, strengthen

(it) and the people will continue to build. We are never in the

situation then that we have an unbalanced architecture.

Blue Fish: Looking back on when you founded Documentum, are there things that you wish you had done differently in the architecture?

On the server side there [isn’t] that much

and that’s partly because myself as well as John Newton and Razmik

Abnous, we’re all database guys. So it wasn’t that we guessed right, we

actually have done database for a decade or so. Since we’re the builder

of database engines, we are already familiar with the general issues.

If you think about Documentum, in order to manage content, we need to do

a lot of metadata tracking. That’s very analogous to database

functionality. So building a scalable architecture wasn’t a big deal

for us. The biggest shock waves which we had to adapt to mostly

occurred during the Internet era.

The flexibility of the web infrastructure and how quickly it

evolved took us by surprise. I’m not sure necessarily how I would have

done [it] differently. Living in that era, it is very difficult to

anticipate where the future will lie. I remember, for a while, Marimba

was going to be the thing of the future. Now nobody wants Java on

clients, so imagine the surprise there. Today, even Akamai is no longer

in fashion. So, it isn’t clear that, at that point in time, we could

have done better. We probably could be more aggressive in investing in

that arena, but the truth is the majority of expenditure will be


I was listening to a pitch by Lester Thoreau, a famous economist

at MIT. He was saying that if you were Moses, and you could talk to God

in 1981 and God said, “invest in PCs because you will be shipping a

quarter billion units a year in 2004.” Moses comes down from the

mountain and he buys into the PC company; he will buy Commodore stock,

because the real players like Microsoft did not show up until 1985.

It’s very difficult to bet on the future, even when you know the trends.

But who knows that? Eventually we did manage to rebuild our

architecture reflecting our learning and our competitors haven’t and so

far that has served us well.

Blue Fish:
John McCormick mentioned this morning

there was a debate as to whether or not [Documentum 5.3] should have

been 6, but now it looks like there will be a 5.4 in about 15-18 months.

He then had one slide with just a few statements about what 6 could be

like and it sounded like you were going to address the repository, which

has not been addressed for quite some time. What are some things that

you think about when you think of 6?

That’s a good question. Our learning from the Internet hasn’t

stopped yet. From the Internet side, the user interaction based on XML,

HTML, the hyperlinks and collaboration models are very powerful. Those

lessons are now reflected in our system. But there is another thing

that’s maybe not as obvious is the Internet turned out to be a highly

agile infrastructure and totally self service. When I bring up my

website, I don’t need to inform everybody else in the world. It just

takes care of itself. When I introduce a new proxy server or a new

cache somewhere, all the other browsers benefit from that effortlessly.

That type of design point is a departure from how we built our content


Our content infrastructure assumes lots of planning; and your

anticipation. You will lay out the infrastructure in the right places;

therefore, we can do the right thing with it. It’s centrally managed.

While that’s not a bad idea, we can do better by taking the idea of the

Internet, the more adaptive infrastructure. If our distributed content

can automatically move around and find its way to the right place

automatically. Cache and replication are interchangeable. Management

of distributed content infrastructure will be easier. That’s part of

the reason we got together with EMC. For the last thirteen years, I

often thought if I had the ability to push more intelligence into the

storage system, the content distribution problem would be easier. For

example, maybe our Documentum software system doesn’t have to know the

network topology. We can delegate the problem to a lower level storage


The big difference between C and C++ versus Java is you don’t have

to keep track of your pointers. You acquire and free pointers. In C,

if you mismatch your acquisition and freeing of pointers, you have a

corrupted system. Java, basically says the computer is so cheap let the

computer keep track those pointers. Memory management maybe not as

efficient or as quickly, but we got so much memory, who cares? And you

can imagine that may not be the absolute best and that may not be

efficient, but it’s pretty effective. Similarly for my content

replication, distribution problem, if my content can propagate to the

right place at the right time, whether it made extra copy or took a

longer path, so long as I can afford it, I done care. If I delete the

original copy, I want every copy removed automatically. With this

approach, management of overall Documentum infrastructure could be

dramatically simplified. To do this, it calls for a re-think of how we

do business at the content infrastructure level.

Blue Fish:
What about from an UI perspective?

John mentioned about how with 6 you may have users able to drag and drop

different components or sets of components and actually build

applications for functionality through that method.

That’s right. So that’s actually not

something new to 6. It’s something we always have aspired to and build

to. The fact is that 5.25 has already started doing that; all our

components are built in such a way it’s JSR 168 compliant, so while you

can use WDK components in the Web Top, you can also use it in the

portal, with a drag and drop behavior. We will take advantage of this

infrastructure to implement our future applications. Today if you use a

product, especially something like an ERP system, you are using a

predefined interface. You’re seeing all the features laid out in the

way somebody in the software vendor has chosen. They have made the

decision for you. It lacks the context about who you are, what your

preferences are and what you will be doing. It is this way, partly

because the existing infrastructure doesn’t support other ways, and

partly because it’s not a well understood problem.

With the innovation in BPM engine and life cycle technology, you

can imagine, by the time it’s your turn to do something using our

interface, we know actually who you are, therefore, we know your

preference. We also know what your role is and where you are in the

workflow process because it’s part of the context. So, potentially we

can generate an application just for you, just for that role, just for

that task, just for the moment in time. You also don’t have to check in

or out everything manually. With your context, we know which set of

information needs to be found, which one can be put away, which ones

could be retained as institution memories. With this new approach, we

like to take our new user interface to the next level. It’s

task-centric, role-centric and highly personalized. That’s something

we’ve been working on, but you’re right; 6 is probably the time [it]

will materialize as part of that offering.

Blue Fish:
Will there also be with 6 a

consideration of a closer integration with a hardware component or a

more appliance view of the world as John talked about? I guess the

follow-up question of that is what is the next integration point with


It is something we already know, but during

the last fifteen months what really hit home is the major EMC storage

systems have more computing powers than some of the computing servers

they attached to. Hardware or system guys have known for a long time

that whether something is implemented in software or hardware has more

to do with cost, performance and flexibility than anything else.

Courtesy of VMware, we can easily wrap our system into a software

appliance. If I ship it with an Intel processor and put it in the box,

we just created a hardware appliance. The flexibility is here now.

We’ve been working on embedded systems. People often think an

enterprise system implies gigantic size. Actually, our system footprint

is not that big. We have a lot of products. That’s why it looks big.

The server itself and all the key components are rather small. To

demonstrate this point: our system engineers with a single laptop can

run everything we need to support a proof of concept project. So, we

can fit it all on a laptop, and imagine that we can assemble with Linux,

open source software or bulk licenses of database, app server. Now, we

can create a content management appliance that can be distributed

rapidly. If nothing else, the EMC folks, the classic hardware guys,

will be better at selling the product.

Outside of the content management area, something that’s pretty

cool that I’m working on with our greater EMC team – we are trying to

get all the file systems under control. Today, with Documentum, you can

have an automatic classification process which puts the file in the

right folder with all the access control and life cycle. But this

requires you to check in every file into Documentum. But as hard as I

try, huge amount of the enterprise information is still on the shared

drives or laptops. They’re not inside Documentum. True, the high value

files are in there, but there’s so much more outside that ought to be


If you run an analysis on shared drives, you’ll find out almost

50% of the information is duplicated. Imagine if I send you a

PowerPoint document and what would you do? If you think that’s

relevant, you will immediately put it in your shared folders and where

everybody makes a copy. And EMC thanks you for that. Also then people

come and go. Most of shared drives are like my laptop. I never delete

any file, because I’m always afraid that I may lose something. So, my

drive goes from under 5 Gig to now 80 Gig and I’m running out of


Imagine what could be done with Documentum technology where we

could easily catalog everything. Since we already have a concept of

external content, I have no reason to import the content into my

repository. I could analyze all the files directly. With our content

intelligence service, I can figure out what the concepts are. Using

hash value of files, I can find out whether they are unique. I can

manage your file systems without importing them. For example, when I

find out all the duplicates, I can remove all but one, and fix up the

link to only the single unique file. Now why didn’t we do that before?

Because I don’t control the file system, but EMC has a file system

technology. So, as far as the user is concerned every file remains in

the same place, but they all point to the same file now. Now imagine

the next step. Let’s say, all the contracts related content that should

not be on this shared drive. We can migrate them into Documentum

silently while leaving the forwarding addresses where they are, so when

a user is trying to access a contract through their normal file system

they get it, because we retrieve it from Docbase automatically.

Blue Fish: Like a bread crumb?

Exactly, but the real file is now under

management with record management and all the proper policies are taken

care of automatically.

Blue Fish: The user doesn’t care.

That’s right. Exactly, so we preserve the

location integrity, which is really how people think about that kind of

information. Yet, we’re adding all sorts of value in a totally

non-intrusive manner, and that can completely redefine what is managed

content and what isn’t. It isn’t just copying to Documentum. I can

decide this one was important, therefore move it to a disaster recovery

site, but I don’t want everybody’s MP3 files moved over. Maybe you

want, maybe you don’t. The fact is now you can start choosing it. You

do all those back-ups, archives, disaster recovery without human

interventions. You just have to have a policy.

That’s also part of what EMC calls Information Life Cycle

Management. So I can also tier information to a different storage

types. For instance, Serial ATA. In essence, all your information

could be under management. And, the level of management and the level of

effort you spend can, for the first time, proportion to your business

needs. It’s not an all or nothing exercise and something like that will

be a natural progression of our marriage and we hope to have that out

soon enough.

Blue Fish:
We know from a Content Management

perspective you have competitors like FileNet and Hummingbird. But from

an Information Life Cycle Management [perspective], if you look at two

years from now, what are the threats to the strategy that you talked


Well, actually Information Life Cycle

Management is something that pretty much everybody embraced. EMC is the

one I think coined the phrase of Information Life Cycle Management

pretty much the same way we talk about Content Life Cycle. The thesis

is information has different values in during its life cycle so you

don’t need to put everything in the most expensive place all the time,

because it doesn’t pay off. It is able to assert where they should be

placed based on application awareness and application agnostic

information like when it was last accessed and stuff like that. You can

dramatically reduce your cost without sacrificing the service level. So

that’s very much a user perspective value proposition.

We really don’t see anybody who’s come out attacking that. The

fact is, we see pretty much all the storage vendors are lining up

embracing that, big or small. We’re talking about IBM, I’m talking

about HP or Hitachi. If you go to the storage conference that’s what

they all talk about. In the storage world, the customer also has a huge

demand for interoperability. So actually that’s an area where

Documentum has done a pretty good job. And EMC also encourages that we

continue that way. The EMC software group, Dave DeWalt, is the head of

that organization. He is aggressively using our past experience best

practice to recruit partners, open up the infrastructure. So instead of

being highly competitive at every turn we’re really looking for a

win-win, or “coop-petition” with pretty much everyone. Cooperation if

possible, but at the end of day we believe we’ll be successful if we

listen to the customer and deliver what they wanted rather than spend

all our energy preserving what little we can hold onto.

Blue Fish:
Are there things in 5.3 that you’re

especially proud of where the customer said “we really want this” and

you were able to deliver something in 5.3?

Yes. There are several things. I think

the biggest one, which my personal pride and joy, is the BPM engine.

We’ve done a good job in that one. I always had aspirations to do a

good job in that. That’s why we always had that router or workflow in

our system. But this time we really kick it up a notch and take the

best practice of all the BPM engines in the market and sunk enough money

in there. We are being used for some of the largest mortgage processing

business. Those are the high end BPM application. We benchmarked to

show that so we can do millions of transactions per hour for the

workflow process. So that’s something that’s important.

The other one is less obvious. We have spent lots of time

polishing the user interface and we are already getting great feedback

from our customer base. Customers are saying migration from the 5.2 to

5.3 actually requires significantly less customizations. A lot of

things that you used to do are all gone. And lots of our user

interaction requires much less clicks to do it. Ironically, that means

different server architecture enhancements. On the server side, people

can see the benefits with expand functionalities. On UI side, it’s

attention to detail. It’s about polishing. It takes a huge amount of

effort, but it’s not obvious where they are. But if you’re a user,

you’re not hitting those speed bumps anymore and that’s very

significant. These two areas are very visible to user.

Architecturally, the most important thing in this release is the

unification. Unification, it’s a dangerous word to use, it implies that

we weren’t unified before. Actually, unified architecture is a sort of

ongoing religion and process for us. When we acquire a company, we

never buy one to just connect them side by side. We don’t buy market

share. We always pick up domain knowledge, it is expensive, because we

basically not only have to learn what the functionalities are, we have

to re-implement that so it will become part of our core competency and

we’ve been doing that forever. Obviously when we first bought Bulldog,

which is a digital asset management system, and Relevance, we’ve done

the unification. eRoom, by the time we bought it, that it was a pretty

big company already. They did tens of millions $ annually and frankly

they have a lot of know how that we did not have. So this one turned

out to be a multi year unification exercise for technology and culture.

Also TrueArc, the record management system, are being pulled in together

at the same time. That’s painful. But it’s a very exciting product now

that we have finished the job.

The whole idea is you should be able to have your user interface

like we talked about before. You should be able to do anything and

using any functionality inside of Documentum unconstrained by the

application packaging or engineering architecture. Which is a big

difference from un-unified products, because then you basically have to

jump from one UI to another UI and one function doesn’t interoperate

with another. We eliminated the problems so you should be able to do

anything you want unconstrained by technology. So again, it’s focus on

the customer-what they wish to see.

Blue Fish:
The other big one which affects users

a lot is in the whole idea of information access. So, you made a big

switch from Verity to FAST. Can you talk a little bit about why the


It wasn’t the main point of switching from

Verity to FAST. It’s a very important one. As I had mentioned in the

beginning, architecture should not be an after thought. But

occasionally, you learn something you need to redo. While I rebuilt the

whole server during the late ’90s, search infrastructure was not

rebuilt. We did not know enough about that. So the Internet really

showed us the power of search. Actually it’s all about search and

through search you emulate organization structure and also a

collaboration capability as evidenced by Google.

So, through that process we are always torn between how you search

fast yet secure. So nobody wants to one day expose everything

inadvertently. So we finally figured it out, how to deliver internet

search experience, the sub second response, yet ACL applied. You can

imagine that’s a non trivial exercise. So we end up having to rethink

how we built the system not to mention I have to support XML search with

all the components of the structure or the folder or in the picture, so

it’s a pretty big problem. It’s clearly a problem that we did not

understand fifteen years ago. We finally got it. So other than having

to re-architect that particular portion, we also yanked a whole portion

of server code out. When we did Verity integration, it’s reasonable to

say we have the state of art search engine underneath us. The world had

changed. With our first repository implementation, the maximum number

of objects you can have in your database was four billion. Now it’s not

big enough. We rewrote it to support 256 peta objects.

So Verity, like Documentum – Verity is actually older than

Documentum, its architecture reflects on the older thinking and to my

disappointment they did not rewrite their server. I don’t think we’re

ready to say they definitely could not scale, but we are concerned how

well they could scale. Now given we have a chance to look at

alternatives, we choose to go with a well known internet scale search

engine, which is FAST.

So, we did two things in 5.3. We re-architect our search support

and we pick a different vendor to go with. The other thing we also have

done is we realize we may be right now but internet search technology

evolved at the speed is unheard of. We now have an open system

interface. What that means is now if the user feels Verity is

appropriate we can still work with Verity to build a connector, so the

Verity engine is still the one embedded or it could be FAST or it could

be anybody else that may come along which has better mouse trap that

people like. We make it open. It’s flexible now.

Blue Fish:
Speaking of the future… looking at

some of the technological opportunities over the last ten years you’ve

had the Internet, you’ve had mobile connectivity, nanotechnology is

emerging. What are some emerging technologies that you think will

impact the space of ILM?

There are quite a few things. There’s

short term and longer term. The short term one I’m particularly psyched

about is RSS, blog and WIKI. I think that’s changed the interaction

model. Imagine anything you put in a folder, I can syndicate through

RSS. Who needs web content management? Well, that’s exaggeration. But

you can imagine management intranet website could be dramatically

easier. Like any new technology, I most likely have underestimated what

it could do. But I see (in) RSS, blog and WIKI (that) they democratized

the sharing of the information. They’ve gone beyond what the web could

do. If you translate it into our world, probably it means contribution

into a content repository world gets easier, simpler. A next level of

frictionless interface is possible.

Longer term, I’m particularly excited by grid computing and higher

communication bandwidth. Internet2 is going to hit the market

commercially. It’s already on campuses and it’s a hundred times the

current internet speeds. It completely redefines what’s near and what’s

far, what caching means, what disaster recovery means. So when I talk

about the content network initially we were anticipating for something

like this. That would be really powerful. That also means where the

software engines sit could be very different. I think ASP in another

life could be successful. Google’s, for an example, Gmail. I hear

people actually build a file system and UI on top of that. Somehow

nobody’s getting nervous that it’s not exactly at next door. So while I

don’t think that particular implementation will win, it is a behavior

modification. People just getting comfortable with doing that type of

thing. I think those type of things are pretty exciting-will change the


Overall I think virtualization, the location transparency-all the

things will finally come to fruition.

Blue Fish:
Mike Trafton (Senior Architect and

Founder, Blue Fish) said that he remembers talking to you ten years ago

and you had mentioned to him that it was a personal hope of yours that

Documentum would be one of the supporting technologies that would help

find a cure for cancer. Tell me a little bit about that.

Yes. That’s part of reason why we have aggressively invested in

collaborations. One of our taglines, we only had one tagline for a

while, was “Uniting the world through content.” We may not be able to

make anybody smarter, but hopefully we can at least let any individual

know everything there is to be known about a particular topic, so out of

that, an insight will come.

There lies the rational of ECIS which can search all repositories,

data systems or all content management system. That’s also why we

acquired Relevance, our content intelligence service, concept

categorizations and things like that. It is also why we are

aggressively driving (the) content value chain. That means you go for

the biotech, pharmaceutical, contract manufacturer, contract research,

hospital and FDA. We’re trying to link all that together and by getting

everybody into a similar infrastructure to share information. It does

not have to have Documentum as a standard to be viable. We ultimately

will change people’s lives. It may actually save our lives

individually, because mistakes should be made only once and a lesson

learned by everyone.

I think there is another thing, while there’s not enough progress

and I hope to drive that, is knowledge management. Actually, courtesy

of those terrorist activities, there is a renewed interest in analytical

content and discovering of relationships where they are implicit.

That’s the base for knowledge mining and we see more research in that

arena and we’d like to help out as well. The world will just be a

better place because of it.

Blue Fish:
I know you’re very passionate about

this stuff and there are a lot of founders who after they went public

would have quit or done something else, but you are still very, very

involved. What drives you? What keeps you going?

I think it has a lot to do with why would

somebody start a company? Some does it for the glory, some for the

money and some for the process / journey. I did this because I thought

the world could be a better place with those content value chains and

sharing of learning. If you think about ten or fifteen years ago what

the world was like and then what is today? Look at the type of things

we could do today. We talk about pharmaceutical business. Now new drug

getting to market six months to a year quicker. Power plants (that)

used to take four years to build can be done in two and a half years. A

lot of things get done quicker, faster, more accurate and we are

changing people’s life. At the end of day, I’d like to leave the world

a better place than I started. I also feel if everybody feels that way.

Life will be easier.

I’m sure many people have the same wish, but I’m in good fortune

that I actually could see the change made. That’s a huge reinforcement

for me and for our team. You look at the world which you couldn’t share

information easily until today. It was a different world. It’s a

better world now and I know that in a few more years it will get better.

Hopefully when my girls grow up, they wouldn’t know what the ancient

world was like. What a kick.

Blue Fish (Jes): If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?

It never occurred to me.

Blue Fish (Jes): This was always what you wanted to do?

I always wanted to change the world for

better. Actually in a way I’m merely trying to restore a “timeline”.

I’m a science fiction fan. In 1978, I graduated from MIT. At that time,

there was Multics, there’s Vax. Software was the way it’s supposed to

be; all the virtualization, VM, things were there. Then there was DOS

which threw the world completely into tangents. A lot of the computer

science knowledge is rendered irrelevant overnight by PCs. Not anymore.

They’re coming back now. And even Microsoft is going to have a

versionable file system soon enough. EMC will have one because of us.

We’re getting back to the right track to really benefit from

computer science. We had a very high level of the innovations then we

sort of go to the lowest common denominator. We’re rebuilding them

back. It takes a while. But by putting the innovation back, it’s a

good thing.

Blue Fish (Jes):
Have there been any bits of

architecture and pieces of architecture you put into Documentum where

you’ve kind of been surprised that people didn’t share what you wanted

to do with it and they’ve done stuff and you said, that really wasn’t

what I planned or you had the vision and you put the pieces in and then


That’s a good point. So when it comes to

architecture I practice active management. Here’s an old phrase I

learned from our old CEO Jeff Miller. He said, inspect, don’t expect.

Architecture generally is another thing. Even architect of building

will go to work site to inspect. Occasionally we do have incorrect

implementation but by next release we get them out, because I’m firm

believer there’s no right way of doing the wrong thing. So, if somebody

took us down the wrong path, it’s easier just to shoot that problem and

restart again. That’s why a good architecture is expensive to keep it

up, but we have benefited from that. We never evolved them as quickly

as I wished. So while I’ve been working on this for fifteen years, I

thought the world would be this way ten years ago. I’m learning that

the world isn’t moving at a pace I would like it to.

Blue Fish:
Is there anything else that we didn’t

ask that you wanted to share?

Since a lot of developers read your

articles, I would like to share the sort of corporate culture I want to


Years ago I worked for a company who was famous for that

technology, but not much of solutions. When I started this company I

focused on solution first. Then we built a platform to deliver the

solutions. That view has not changed and will not change.

What we’re looking for are more developers who actually understand

what we want to do and to help us get there. So to change the world

together. What that translates into-the call to action is actually

“talk to us,” say “this area sucks, fix this, and fix that.” Tell us

what we do wrong, and whether we [fix] it together. Just like Mike

(Trafton) helped us get the import utility done. Because our customers

said, how ridiculous is it to have a content management system with no

easy way to import information in there.

We’re trying to encourage … this one becomes a community with

joint planning. We would also like to know and have a discussion such

as “hey we don’t think you should be in this field. (Get) out of here,”

or whatever. I want to be a kinder, gentler company, so it’s not like a

“my way or no way” exercise. It is to encourage people to share our

vision then go there together. That’s why we invest in the developer

community. This content management problem’s way too big for any

individual, any company to solve. We could make a difference on our

own. But we could make a bigger difference quicker together.

I’m getting low on patience. I want to build it all before I


Blue Fish:
Is it as much fun now as it used to be

or do you have to be so much more careful with what you say and who you

talk to? Has anything changed since you started?

Yes and no. We will talk about the

difference between and start up and here. It’s actually E=MC squared

ironically. When you start up, you have high velocity and acceleration

but less mass. Now you have lots of mass and less velocity. You

multiply them together. That’s equal to impact.

Given the size of EMC, we’re careful about what we say. Actually

more importantly is I feel, and I’m sure a lot of our executives feel

the same way, there is implied obligations with our size. When I’m

small, I can do anything I want, I’m less likely to cause collateral

damages especially in our partner organizations. I view partners like I

see our employees. I know your are not my employees, but I feel if

you’re part of my team. You bought my story, so we’re working together

and we should go to bank together. It’s not like I’m stronger, you’re

weaker, and therefore I win exercise. Now, we are bigger EMC. I could

inadvertently do things which are causing unintended harm and sometime

even corrective action takes time to fix it. I want to get more

feedback or hear people who willing to guide us. We have a willingness

to listen and we want to make sure we are addressing customer’s


Our customers are asking us for solutions that can be deployed

readily, cost hardly anything. Our market is shifting from visionary

early adopters to the mainstream customers who have different

expectations. Responding to them, we have to move into certain areas.

We are trying to foretell our direction in the longer term so everybody

can know where and how to collaborate with us to magnify the power and

benefit. Those ecosystem planning/collaboration are becoming a bigger

issue in my mind than ever.

Blue Fish:
So is it the difference between

steering a small boat and steering an oil tanker?

Yes. Very much so. Yeah. It’s no longer

sort of a joy ride-let the wind take me. Right. Now I have to plot the

path first, because otherwise I could run onto the islands. It’s more

premeditated. More thoughts going to a decision. But the good news is

when I get there I do get there and with the whole industry together.

Another thing is relevant for the developer is the maturity of our

industry. Part of the reason for our willingness to sell to EMC, to

join forces with EMC is we think the software industry has


Some of my heroes are economists because they see the

macro-picture and they study history closely. In 1900, there are about

1,000 automotive vendors, because every bicycle manufacturer is now

building cars. Thirty years later, there are hundreds of automotive

companies. Fifty years later three automotive companies. Distribution

channel as formed by dealerships, not just manufacturing or design

capability became the key issues.

I think software is gradually turning into similar situation.

Channels matter. Customers want only one neck to choke. They’re

looking for solutions that are interoperable.

If you think about Documentum partnership, it is not only just

building on the platform. What we can also bring [to] our developer

community the distribution channels. That’s why Rob Tarkoff is

strategically driving that. Imagine that in the future, there is the

catalog. From it, you, as a customer, can buy all the accessories. You

know this set of products work together. It’s greater for customers and

greater for our developers.

Because you don’t have to worry about the channel’s setup, life

gets easier. Another angle of looking at us is beyond as a software

supplier, we can expand your market and provide additional channel

access for our partners.

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