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Why Enterprise Content Management Systems Matter

Data is the most important asset an organization has. So, users getting immediate access to relevant data is the most important enabler an organization can offer its employees for competitive and sustained success in the marketplace. Today, enterprises are struggling with the amount of data that they have to work with and how to properly classify it and deliver it to end users. I had a conversation with one of our customers about specifically this topic and the customer had many valid questions:

  • Should I use SharePoint?
  • Do I need object-based storage?
  • Can I leverage cloud storage?
  • Do I need and can I use enterprise file sharing?
  • What do I do with applications that generate reports which users need access to?

This is just a sample, but from those it was very clear that the customer needed an enterprise content management strategy.

This is truly humorous. If you've followed my blog long enough, you will notice that I am recommending a strategy for almost every problem that I am being confronted with -- enterprise mobility strategy, enterprise cloud strategy, and so on. It is important to realize that a shift has occurred and that everything is more interconnected than it ever was in the past. As a result we can no longer address projects independently of an overall strategy because one project affects another in one way, shape or form.

So back to the problem, and the answer and the result of our engagement was to start with the business owners. Like I have always said: There are no IT projects, only business projects. So, we conducted a proper data assessment, established a governance model which the customer had already started with the SharePoint project. To that, we added regulatory and security considerations.

In the end, SharePoint most definitely has its place in the grand scheme of things. But enterprise file sharing is also incredibly useful as users become more and more mobile and it is imperative that IT enable them to have access to their data without using aVPN. That being said, enterprise file sharing is good for personal documents, good for replacing your "I" or "H" or "O" drive. It is not meant to eliminate file servers in an enterprise. These file servers still have a role to play for certain high-IO applications or even to simply store Outlook PST files.

Data tiering and object-based storage could also play a role in this particular instance. Data tiering can be extended to the cloud using services like EMC Atmos or Amazon S3. The end result? Well, it will be a centralized access point for SharePoint, enterprise file sharing and also access to all the applications that generate reports since they all happen to be web-based. So, aggregating those reports in a single location and giving user-controlled access to one or all these services works just fine.

Now the interesting thing here is that this delves into desktop virtualization as well and what the strategy is for certain files that can be manipulated using a VDI or RDSH session but cannot be downloaded or moved.

In the final analysis, my recommendation to you before you start working on your archive project or your backup project or your data tiering project or your SharePoint project is to take a step back, identify the business objectives, what is it exactly that you are trying to accomplish and build a strategy or a solution that can be implemented in phases to achieve your goal. And that goal? Simply put, it should only be to enable your users to have access to the relevant data as quickly as possible to increase business profitability.

Are you undergoing an enterprise content management project? What type of hurdles are you coming across from governance, regulatory and other issues that you can share with the rest of us? Please share them here.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 04/22/2013 at 12:49 PM


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