By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-08-08 Print this article Print

Whether you use the term managed services or application service providers—or use the currently trendy term of on demand—hosted solutions provide a quick and simple way for businesses to get up and running with an enterprise application. Ricohs DocumentMall, which was updated in May, is no exception, providing a capable—if somewhat simple—solution for storing, sharing and managing corporate documents and other digital media.

During tests, eWEEK Labs was able to quickly get up and running using DocumentMall, and it was simple to load and share documents using the service.

However, the product does have shortcomings. Rather than enabling complex workflows by default, DocumentMall is limited to processing documents mainly through routing and permission settings. In addition, Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer with an ActiveX control enabled is required to make full use of the Web-based interface.

Furthermore, although Ricoh generally does a good job of securing access to DocumentMall, companies will have to decide whether theyre comfortable with sending and storing sensitive documents outside their corporate infrastructure.

Click here to eWEEK Labs review of Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite. DocumentMall pricing is based on the service contract length (either one or three years) and the amount of storage purchased. One gigabyte of storage for one year is priced at $800. As the amount of storage and the length of the contract increase, the price paid per year decreases.

The underlying technology of DocumentMall is based on the venerable Documentum application (acquired through EMC Corp.s purchase of Documentum Inc. in 2003). However, the Web-based interface of the Ricoh system has only a passing resemblance to the Documentum interface and is clearly designed to be more simple and intuitive.

From this interface, users have access to an in-box showing documents that have been shared, routed or sent, and users can see all public and personal document cabinets, or document folders. It was very simple during tests to create folders and upload multiple documents, applying simple permission settings along the way.

Documents can be routed to other users via e-mail, DocumentMall in-boxes or both, and basic permission settings control who can access the documents and how. The product provides standard check-in and check-out capabilities and includes a Citrix Systems Inc. applet for viewing documents when a user does not have the necessary application. We also liked the simple audit button that provides all the usage and tracking information for a document a user has appropriate rights to.

Documents can enter the system via other methods as well. Not surprisingly, given Ricohs experience as a hardware vendor, Ricoh scanners with multifunction capabilities can be upgraded with firmware that lets them scan directly to DocumentMall cabinets. Documents can also be sent via e-mail-based Internet faxing.

We found administration of DocumentMall as basic and simple as the products main interface. We could manually add users and groups to the system or upload a text file with user information, but there is no direct integration with company directories. We could also define attributes for custom document types, create basic user group permission sets and view detailed audit logs for the entire deployment.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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