Dropbox’s Exodus from the Cloud

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Moving to cloud has been the talk of the boardrooms for a long time. Many startups have launched their products using different cloud providers and few have been moving on an off cloud. One example I particularly remember is when when San Francisco based social gaming company Zynga reached its own hyper growth phase, the company moved off of the cloud and into its own data centers. But then its business imploded, and it was left with infrastructure it didn’t really need. It’s now back on Amazon. (Read full story here)

While the companies are busy planning their migrations to cloud, but at the same time we should plan for the moving between the clouds, to avoid vendor lock.

Data migration is a particular problem because a cloud storage service is often seen as the ultimate data archive and the capacities an organization will try to transfer can be very large — petabytes instead of terabytes. Migrating large data sets is always a challenge, but public clouds have the additional issues of limited bandwidth and potential download fees.

Wired magazine recently published the story on Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud, following is an extract:

“Just getting the bits out of Amazon and into other data centers was an epic task. Digitally moving petabytes of data from one machine to another isn’t exactly on the same scale as downloading a few songs for your laptop. Even the fattest Internet pipes only have so much bandwidth.”

Read full story here: The Epic Story of Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud Empire via WIRED

Moving those bytes around is a huge task. Even small and middle size companies will have to face this challenge in due time.

Are you prepared?

 

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The NextGen Information Professional

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“Skills have become the currency of 21st Century economies.” — Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education Vice President

I remember reading this blog by David Ferriero on how to prepare the next generation of information professionals. In this blog posting, David summarizes a keynote presentation, he gave at Association of Library and Information School Education (ALISE) meeting. He also included a link to the full text of his talk.

In this talk he mentioned the skills following skills for next generation information professionals: the ability to deliver results, to communicate with impact, to influence others, project management.

Here’s my favorite part from his speech:

The ability to demonstrate business savvy. Applying business principles, methods, and processes (e.g., ROI, cost-benefit analysis) to solve problems. Driving business results by planning and prioritizing activities consistent with organizational goals, using data and evaluating the costs, benefits, and impact on others when making business decisions.

The above mentioned blog is three years old, which begs the question what skills are required to be an information professional in 2016?

Following slide share from AIIM outlines what you need to know and the skills you need to learn to become a NextGen InfoPro and remain relevant in information management:

What will it take to be a NextGen InfoPro? | Iron Mountain

 

ECM and Fitness Trackers

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“My new fitness tracker counted 5,000, unfortunately 4,900 of them were to the fridge and back!”

From a fitness perspective wearable products are great at quantifying your activity, but they don’t make you more active, unless you change your habits; you’ll just have an expensive device that tells you how much you don’t do.

On the other hand if you started a regular fitness routine and replace junk food with healthy foods, you would get healthier — with or without the FitBit tracking you.

I can relate this scenario to content management also, need not to say how many times companies will buy the technologies, thinking that it will resolve all of their content management problems. Later realizing that the new fancy toy (technology or tool) has not fixed their content management problems.

This is like blaming the FitBit for not going on my five mile run today.

“Wearable devices have gotten a lot of interest in their potential impact to improve individuals’ health, but there’s been little evidence that these alone can help people sustain changes in behavior,” says author Mitesh S. Patel, MD, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “The more important part is building effective strategies to engage individuals around these devices.”

Technology can give us huge advances, but if enterprises haven’t built a mature content management strategy, pumping money and time into technology is not going to change anything.

Need for MobileUI in ECM Systems

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Recently I faced an interesting problem therefore thought to share it here, our ECM system is the single source of truth for standards and policy related documents. Also it’s easy to share the link of the document rather than attaching the whole document while sharing information.

Since most of the users check their emails using mobile devices, therefore now they are facing a new issue. Whenever they try to opens a document link shared using email, it tries to open the document in mobile browser using the same layout as if it was being opened on a desktop. This makes it very hard to open and edit the documents.

This issue has created a demand for a mobile compatible interface for our ECM system so that they can at least browse and read content using mobile devices.

It’s interesting to see, how just moving one application (emails) to mobiles, has created a demand for mobile compatible version of another system (ECM).

Most of the ECM technologies needs add on modules (with extra licensing cost) to support mobile devices. Or a mobile app needs to be developed using SOAP or RESTfull APIs.

We are using one of the product from Leaders Quadrant of Gartner Magic Quadrant for ECM and we have two options 1) either pay to buy a new product for mobile compatibility or 2) develop our own app using APIs.

This is one of the areas where new vendors like Box.net have an advantage over established players, as it is built for cloud and mobile. It works smoothly on all kind of devices (desktop, tablet and mobiles) without any need of customization or add-on software.

A piece of advice to ECM vendors, don’t just design a system which works on desktops only, design a adoptive UI so that default it can be accessed from any kind of devices.

Everyone is talking about Documentum

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The news of Dell buying EMC has started a discussion in ECM world about the future of Documentum. But before I jump into this discussion following is the most exciting news I read about EMC-ECD(house of Documentum) has been doing this year:

Earlier this year, EMC announced it is replacing Documentum with a set of cloud-based modular apps that can be consumed at will, and due to be launched by the end of 2015, under its Project Horizon program.

The new platform is not just Documentum in the cloud, it’s an entirely new platform and apps marketplace for content management.

Following are some the blogs where experts have been discussing about it:

The general consensus is to wait and watch as more details about the deal is disclosed.

Analysts noted that Documentum, formerly less than 3% of EMC’s revenue, will be an even smaller portion of the Dell/EMC combined company’s revenue.

After reading all of these blogs, overall Dell+EMC deal looks great and promising and if you are focused exclusively on unstructured content, ECM or information governance the future looks cloudy. But if Dell may want to sell Documentum after buying EMC, I can’t see any real buyer. HP, IBM, SAP, Oracle already have setup their ECM shops.

Dell buys EMC…what will happen to Documentum

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Dell has agreed to acquire EMC for LOTS of money, as per the press release, following are the highlights of this deal:

  • Brings together the industry’s leading innovators in digital transformation, software-defined data center, hybrid cloud, converged infrastructure, mobile and security
  • EMC stockholders to receive approximately $33.15 per share (based on the assumptions described below) in a combination of cash as well as tracking stock linked to a portion of EMC’s economic interest in the VMware business
  • VMware to remain an independent, publicly-traded company.

But why it is important for me, I neither own stocks in Dell or EMC nor I work in any of those companies. I care about the future of EMC-ECD (Enterprise Content Division) which is the home of Documentum. If Documentum is vanished, it wouldn’t hurt my job but it will hurt me because Documentum has been a leader in ECM for a very long time and it is the second largest ECM vendor in terms of market share.

Will it be dumped or set-free?
The ECM-ECD (I prefer Documentum) has been on almost on the same place as it was in 2006, since EMC acquired it and it been generating single digit revenue. Also since a large part of this deal is being financed with a new debt, and it has to be paid quickly to provide flexibility to Dell in future. Therefore there are chances that Dell might offload some of the EMC components (e.g. Documentum) to raise more money.

Therefore the question comes for the future of Documentum under Dell leadership, will it be dumped or set free.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, 451 Research Group analyst, once said, “Documentum wasn’t a good fit within EMC and there doesn’t seem to be a logical fit for them within Dell.”

The ECM-ECG products are valid business applications, but Dell is not a business application company; it provides provides the infrastructure for applications to run on. I think if Documentum were to become independent, then it would have a fresh incentive to fight hard, refresh the product and revive the brand. It’s something that Documentum enthusiasts have been hoping for  a long, long time.

Sharing Documents through Email

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Email is the easiest way to communicate with people as we have been using it for decades, but it poses few challenges while when we start sharing or collaborating on documents through email.

Sharing document through email, crates multiple copies of document and if needs to be modified, then everyone has to wait for their turn to add their inputs and comments and in this process, multiple copies of document will be made and we will have no track which one is the updated one. Documents in email will be quickly outdated.

Also sharing a document over email is a security issue, as everyone can edit the document and they may end up sharing this document with others which can pose issues if the document contains confidential information. Security is irrelevant while sharing a document through email.

The struggles with email collaboration

  • Dozens of emails from various team members, most featuring identical subject lines that make it difficult to weed out crucial responses from irrelevant ones, especially when conversations fork into multiple threads.
  • It’s nearly impossible to maintain clarity about what needs to get done, and by whom.
  • Poor version control: Just when you think the document is final, you find out two different people made extensive edits… to yesterday’s file. Keeping track of the most current version of an attached document is the modern-era’s needle in a haystack.
  • Lack of transparency: It’s hard to track which pieces of information are still missing and where approvals stand.
  • Limited reuse: The approved document’s final resting place is someone’s inbox, never to be shared again unless you specifically remember that someone proposed something similar last year.
  • Group conversations grow unwieldy too quickly.

Email-communication-vs-collaborationDon’t get me wrong, email is an incredibly useful tool, it’s just a misused one. Email is an effective means for communication, but when it comes to collaborating with your team on projects and getting work done, it’s a major hindrance to your team’s productivity. Therefore the question arises, is email a communication tool or a collaboration tool? Is there even a difference between communication and collaboration? While there is a myriad of definitions and well written explanations of the differences between communication and collaboration, my personal favorite comes from Anthony Bradley at Gartner Research. Anthony says that [1]:

“Communication is the exchange of information to achieve a better understanding.”

While

“Collaboration is the exchange of information, and things, to advance the state of a collaborative product.”

Collaboration is different, even though communication and collaboration will seem like same, but they are not. Collaboration is a higher form of communication. That is to say that communication is required for collaboration but not all communication is collaboration. Also I like the following definition of collaboration from AIIM [2]:

“Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit.”

How a collaboration helps you

  • Instead of endless email, team members can participate in discussion threads that efficiently summarize where various facets of the document stand.
  • Document management: Everyone has access to the latest draft, and you can check the proposal document out of the system like a library book while you’re working on your piece, single source of truth.
  • Searchable files: You can apply metadata or tag files to make them easy to find later. This means you can quickly locate the document after six month also.
  • Security: Apply security policies to documents, so that only authorized personals have access to documents.
  • Auditing: A well-established auditing policies can keep track of who and when the document was accessed, it is particularly useful in regulatory environments.

The closing remark, an ECM system with focus on collaboration can solve all of the above mentioned, and many more, issues and can effectively improve the productivity and quality of information being created and stored.

Send links to documents, which is stored in the ECM system rather than sending the document itself, it will store the change history, audit and managed and IP stays safely inside the firewall, seen only by authorized users.

References:
[1] Click here to check out Anthony Bradley’s part 1 of 4-part blog about how email is anti-social (read other Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here)
[2] What is Collaboration? http://www.aiim.org/What-is-Collaboration

Disclaimer: This post is inspired from an experience, where I was using a document to implement the taxonomy for a new BU in our ECM system. I received the document through email and I came to know that old version of the document was shared, as few more changes were made on the flight. This caused a lot of rework for us. Therefore I thought to document my observations and learning in this post. Thanks for reading.