A report by MarketsandMarkets indicates that the Cloud Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market will grow from USD 9.77B in 2017 to USD 34.42B by 2022 at a CAGR of 28.6%. According to Gartner’s The Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management report, by 2018, half of the enterprises will manage content on hybrid (mix of cloud and on-premise) systems. Also, half of the leading ECM vendors will re-architect their software to be cloud based. Another survey by AIIM indicates that 26% of enterprises already use some form of Cloud ECM. Another 27% are expected to implement it in the next two years. Therefore, it is not anymore a question of whether enterprises should choose cloud or not. It is about how best they can leverage the cloud.
Points to bear in mind before hosting your ECM in the cloud
- Financial: Is the financial model for Cloud ECM effective from a long term cost perspective? Is it amenable to your enterprise’s business model? Are there any hidden costs that may, therefore, cause the cloud to be a more expensive proposition? Does the cloud service provider offer any innovative pricing models to optimize the expenditure? Is there an ROI calculator that can help you gain visibility of your investments and build a business case?
- Integration: How easy or difficult it is to integrate Cloud ECM with existing on-premise legacy systems or other SaaS solutions? Does this integration impact system performance? Does it increase cost due to transfer of content?
- Migration: How to meet content migration requirements? What are the time and cost implications? Do you have any accelerators for quick migration of large volumes of content, since ECM usually deals with several terabytes of content?
- Security and Data Governance: How is the content protected? Does the cloud vendor provide any security assurances? Are your regulatory and legal compliance requirements met? Are there any geographical restrictions on content location that must be addressed?
- Transparency: Do you have visibility about how ECM on cloud services are delivered (for example, data center location, what other applications/customers are hosted on the same server)? Does your Cloud ECM service provider mandate a specific lock-in time? If so, what are the migration/exit plans should you decide to move to another provider?
- Customization: How much do you need to configure or customize the solution?
- Performance and Reliability: What kind of reliability does your data and system require? Does the cloud provider support SLAs? Also, how is the response to non-availability of content? Can the service provider meet your performance needs?
Given these considerations, what are the solution principles to remember and follow for a successful Cloud ECM implementation?
- Establish clear service, system, and operational boundaries.
- Tackle concerns between business applications and document management systems separately
- Develop a standard approach to security and integration mechanisms and service contracts
- Align information models
- Define and execute robust roll-out and roll-back approaches
- Minimize business change impact
Perform a proof of concept to evaluate important factors such as performance, security, disaster recovery, ease of use, support model, and turnaround time. This has to be carried out before starting out with an enterprise wide implementation. Subsequently, chart out a phase-wise implementation strategy starting small. Then scale up to larger, complex requirements.
Business Architecture Benefits
The cloud places advanced technology at the fingertips of any cloud enthusiast. Be it big data, parallel processing for massive content analysis or advanced analytics and insights, cloud enables easy and immediate access, with low upfront investment. Therefore, your enterprise can evolve at a pace matching the market’s progress. With cloud ECM, you can achieve a faster
turn-around time to implement changes and improve the overall business agility.
Information Architecture Benefits
By aggregating related repositories across business units on a cloud ECM, your enterprise can have a single view of customer intelligence. Likewise, merger of disparate information models across various ECM systems has its benefits. Facilitation of information lifecycle management is enabled by provisioning of Retention Policy Services.
Application Architecture Benefits
Standardization offered by cloud ECM service providers has benefited application architecture greatly. Standardised service interfaces are available for consumption. Industry standards such as DFS/OASIS/CMIS form a basis for integration. Standard security (A&A) model can be leveraged to improve over a current disparate state. Consolidation of legacy systems and processes is another benefit.
Infrastructure Architecture Benefits
Hosting ECM in the cloud delivers infrastructure optimization benefits such as decommission of end of life and near end of life server infrastructure. Similarly, appliance based infrastructure increases compute and storage density. Virtualisation allows for flexible environment provisioning. Active-Active platform offers improved resilience and availability.
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