Aug 23

Next Generation Content Services Enable the Flexibility and Freedom of Hybrid Approach

We need a fresh, modern approach to content management. It may seem like only yesterday that enterprise content management (ECM) systems arrived on the scene, but one-size-fits-all solutions are no longer adequate for today’s complex and hybrid infrastructures. However, the need for a quick fix has driven many enterprises to act tactically rather than strategically, resulting in complicated mixed infrastructures and the need to maintain many dissimilar, but overlapping platforms.

This is the conclusion of a recent ASG-commissioned technology adoption profile study, “Today’s Enterprise Content Demands a Modern Approach” conducted by Forrester Consulting, which  surveyed 220 IT enterprise architecture and operations decision makers involved in content management. Its research has also shown that enterprises really want standardisation on a single ECM solution – but in reality, 93% are using multiple repositories to store content, with 31% using five or more systems to manage it.

Looking at these statistics, it’s easy to understand why the Forrester Consulting study has come to the conclusion that a new approach is needed. We’ve got used to everyone talking about ‘ the data explosion’, but volumes of unstructured data in the form of business content such as office documents, presentations, spreadsheets and rich media have grown beyond expectations also.

The majority of organisations (60%) are storing 100 terabytes (TB) or more of unstructured data; nearly one quarter (23%) have one petabyte (PB) or more of data.  Further, these volumes show no sign of decreasing; 82% of those polled reported an increase in unstructured data stored over the past 24 months with 50% saying volumes have increased by more than 10% over this time.

With this content comes the ‘easy access versus security’ conundrum. The information is worthless unless employees (and often customers or partners too) can reach it quickly as they need it. Today, this means making content available via mobile as well as via traditional channels. Yet exchanging information with external parties and doing so remotely, outside a company’s firewall, can heighten regulatory and security concerns.

Legacy systems remain a challenge

Underpinning these concerns is another major worry for IT professionals with nearly three out of ten saying they are challenged by legacy systems. A quarter say their ability to move to the cloud is hampered by their existing infrastructure. Yet the next two years will be a transition period for enterprise content management deployment methods with monolithic ECM suites giving way to cloud-based platform. In the Forrester Consulting study, a decisive 90% of organisations said they will be using cloud-based content management systems, either as a primary or hybrid approach. Will the inflexibility of legacy systems prevent these enterprises from taking advantage?

In reality most major enterprises are unable to make a ‘rip and replace’ move to the cloud. Too much has been invested in customising and maintaining legacy systems over the years. However, all enterprises are facing stiff competition from start-up companies that are entirely cloud-based and therefore have greater agility to respond to market demands and changes.

For example, the US Insurance company Liberty Mutual decided that the greater flexibility and access offered by cloud delivery options made the change worthwhile. Choosing a next generation content services platform which accesses and manages content from anywhere on any device and also has the capacity to work in a hybrid environment, it was able to migrate while supporting both the old and the new. The platform became the archive content repository for formatted documents on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Because it supports open source, the platform allows Liberty Mutual to bridge from mainframe, multiple legacy repositories to AWS. It is deployed on AWS as a Platform-as-a-Service to capture process-driven content and on premise or in hybrid environments.

This hybrid approach enables enterprises to manage content for regulatory compliance while still offering the benefits of the cloud, seamlessly integrating on-premise and cloud repositories for maximum flexibility, easier IT management and lower costs, achieving fast ROI on both legacy and IT systems.

Content is the lifeblood of any organisation. When it is difficult to access, decision-making suffers. So whatever the patchwork of systems used, enterprises are seeking tools that enable them to access, view and use content from a single app, regardless of location. In addition, as cloud content services become pervasive, enterprises must still cope with the massive content stores that remain on premise. Any technology that helps bridge the cloud/on premise gap will help businesses gain value from all their IT including their legacy systems.