“Enterprise” Content Management – Scaling up and out

META Trend: During 2005/06, organizations will begin implementing several components of enterprise content management services enterprisewide: document management, Web content management, taxonomy/ontology, search, content/e-mail archiving, and records management. As these services continue to commoditize, they will evolve differentially in vertical markets to centrally managed, locally implemented capabilities supporting compliance efforts, knowledge management initiatives, and innovation. By 2008/09, users will easily unify various content services through composite applications to provide information in context.

Enterprise content management (ECM) can be considered both a strategy for end users and an aggregation model for vendors. For end users, we find an increasing number of end-user organizations (finally) thinking in terms of enterprise requirements and applications for various forms of content management. This has largely been caused by the specter of compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley most recently in the US, but more often in the past by other regulations, including FOIA, HIPAA, and OSHA), which opens the door to various forms and components of content management. Users – IT groups, in particular – are becoming better at seizing this opportunity, and they are attempting to leverage these compliance mandates to introduce capabilities that could be standardized on for use in other situations.

For vendors, ECM has been a model for explaining the set of “nouns,” or content types (e.g., documents, rich media, output, Web content) and “verbs” (e.g., managing as records, publishing, transforming, archiving) that should probably be owned as a set of functionality that is ultimately able to address any content issue in any process. Yet the vendors have been unsuccessful in achieving enterprise adoption – or even standardization, in many cases – due to high product costs, complexities of implementation and ownership, and end-user political issues (e.g., departmental control over solutions).

However, the ability to manage a wide variety of content is now meeting up with end-user desire to standardize and consolidate (vendors, if not physical content sources). When these effects meet, they can result in a great opportunity for true enterprise implementation of content management technology. In light of this, we expect to see numerous instances of enterprises standardizing on ECM platforms during 2005 (an activity that actually started in earnest in 2004), with selected ECM technology implementations at the enterprise level (e.g., document management, Web content management) coming to the fore in 2005 and ramping up through 2006/07.

During the next one to two years, this is likely to occur more often in “scale out” implementations on a standard platform, increasingly with central administration (i.e., bought, provisioned, and under governance of standard policies). By 2008, the pervasiveness of Web services in these platforms, evolution of products from major platform vendors (predominantly Oracle and Microsoft), and continued pricing decreases will also have made the “scale up” implementation (e.g., tens or hundreds of thousands of users contributing, many millions of objects stored, pervasive/comprehensive security) a reality in numerous enterprises. Both the “scale out” and “scale up” models offer challenges in enterprise implementation.

Scale-Out Challenges

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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