David Morris – Originally published – September 18, 2008
Traditional Enterprise Content Management (ECM) products and solutions have and continue to deliver the ability to manage content, documents, and records within the enterprise to meet today’s business regulations. ECM platforms are a corporate necessity and will continue to be the backbone for critical, high-value information management and collaboration capabilities for the foreseeable future. However, there is a growing challenge in enterprise content creation and management. With the increase in knowledge workers and user-friendly content creation tools, electronically stored information (ESI) volume is growing at nearly a hundred percent year over year. With this volume of information, over eighty percent of informational assets reside outside the ECM repositories, i.e. are “in the wild”.
With today’s dispersed mobile workforce, documents and records are now created and scattered across databases, servers, email applications, laptops, desktops, and storage systems around the world. The problem is how to find the key critical documents and records in today’s informational ocean and pull them into the ECM workflow while leaving the rest in-place and indexing it. Because importing all documents and records into the corporation’s central ECM repository is no longer possible or feasible due to sheer volume. A solution to the “in the wild” information problem would be to provide ECM functionality and features ranging from information access, information management, records management, metadata capture and management, full text and full content indexing, auto-classification across any device to separate non-critical information from critical information and seamlessly transition it into the ECM repository or indexing and managing information in-place.
To help manage the information growth while maintaining enterprise content management control of high-value documents and records, corporations need visibility into important data outside the ECM repository or “in the wild” information. Gartner coined the term “Lite-ECM” which describes a cooperative Information Access and Management suite that seamlessly integrates and extends today’s ECM platform capabilities to provide identification, search, analysis, and auto-classification of information outside the ECM repository stored throughout the organization. Adding in-place indexing and management capability delivers the ability to virtually organize distributed information into a single, easy-to-use information viewpoint, regardless of where the information resides. Adding another tool to the toolbox can be challenging, especially on today’s constrained IT budgets. What are the key features needed to determine the right Lite-ECM product fit for your corporation? David Morris, Director of Product Marketing at Kazeon, provider of Information Management and eDiscovery technologies, offers insight into the top criteria for choosing a “Lite-ECM” software suite to augment and extend your ECM capabilities and reduce deployment and management headaches.
- Enterprise-class Scalability & Performance – Most Lite-ECM information platforms were architected with a reactionary (do it once) ideology, which causes significant scalability challenges when attempting to deploy continuous Lite-ECM capabilities to manage today’s dynamic information environments. A Lite-ECM suite must be scalable to search across hundreds of terabytes of electronically stored information, as well as scale into the billions of documents, and have the performance to process the data to keep pace with today’s information growth.
- Auto-Discovery of data sources – The Lite-ECM suite must have the capability to auto-discover informational sources anywhere on the network, since critical data may reside in the enterprise file storage file server or a laptop in Shanghai. To truly manage all information, auto-discovery is a crucial feature of any enterprise-level Lite-ECM suite.
- Holistic and Dynamic Organizational Information Map -Since network topology can change rapidly, having a dynamic and active continuous auto-discovery capability is critical for information indexing, internal investigations, litigation procedures, and information capacity planning.
- Agent-less Information Management- Organizations have enough critical data running on servers, laptops, and desktops today. Having another agent on all devices reduces operational health and increases risk, not to mention that it has to be “known” to install an agent. Agent-less search has a low impact on the IT infrastructure and is more rapid to deploy. With the scalability challenges solved, it is the lowest risk highest reward approach to identifying all data sources on the network. Since users cannot disable agent-less search, it provides a rapid and robust investigation and litigation capability to find potentially relevant information and hold it in-place for review.
- Robust Search, Analysis, and Classification – Searching, analyzing, and classifying information complex challenges; however, a Lite-ECM suite will need to have all three to truly add value and help separate the relevant from the non-relevant information within an organization. Having a robust analysis and auto-classification capability that can sort large data sets based on metadata, document content, file type, etc. is necessary to accurately and quickly reduce the volume of data to a relevant and manageable set to review and processing.
- Tagging -Automating the tagging of individual content or grouping content into relevant virtual folders with a robust policy-based engine allows administrators to simplify the review and reporting process by delivering a virtualized organizational information overview.
- Workflow Management- After gaining insight into and classifying critical information, bringing the “in the wild” data into the ECM platform for workflow management and preservation is critical. With the ability to automate the move, copy, encrypt, and delete actions, an automated policy-based methodology accelerates the manual processes for processing all enterprise data. Furthermore, it allows corporate governance policies and IT policies and procedures to be managed and enforced through the existing platform.
- Unified Management – With billions of documents and petabytes of storage, corporations can easily be overwhelmed by the volume of data and its presentation. A robust Lite-ECM suite must have a unified management view across the entire network and the ECM platform to simplify operational management. Without a unified management approach, the management task is overly burdensome and not feasible.
- In-Place Record Hold – Being able to tag and hold potential critical information at the source, i.e. server or laptop is a capability that separates the efficient Lite-ECM suites from unusable ones. It is not reasonable to move all potential critical data back to a repository before the review, the in-place hold and review, and subsequent collection process streamlines. It also accelerates the process to meet today’s demands and reduce infrastructure costs.
- Enterprise-Wide Critical Information Capture – With 80% of corporation’s informational assets outside the control of the ECM platform, a Lite-ECM will need to have the flexibility to identify, access, search, and review information which resides in databases, email archives, servers, email systems and storage systems across the network. With an automated workflow policy engine, capturing and moving critical information to the ECM repository can be accomplished daily, weekly, or monthly. Having an extensible architecture to facilitate search, collection, and review across existing and emerging applications and data types is a critical capability.
Deploying a Lite-ECM suite is a complex process since it impacts IT, Legal, human resources, records management, and security teams. To meet stakeholder needs, Mr. Morris advocates convening a cross-functional team to gather requirements, review solutions, manage the deployment of a Lite-ECM suite, and create a sense of ownership and responsibility or the enduring usage of the new suite.
David Morris – Morris Bytes