Content Services Made Possible With AWS

[Originally written for the TeraThink blog. Additional edits have been to clarify context.]

We’ve shared a bit about how we’ve setup a working infrastructure for content services at USCIS. While it hasn’t always been easy, there have been a few key takeaways that have made TeraThink’s efforts successful.

  1. Define business-centric APIs. We currently use Mule as it makes the basics easy and allows for complexity.
  2. Understand, capture, and fully execute the non-functional requirements. User experience drives adoption. Non-functional requirements drives management support and avoids messy incidents.
  3. Architect for, and deploy in, the cloud.

Designing for the cloud seems obvious in today’s IT world. However, I cannot stress how much time and effort has been saved by keeping this in the forefront of our efforts. I’ve been doing enterprise content management (ECM) for decades and I can tell you that using the different cloud capabilities of Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made a huge, positive impact.

Continue reading

The Cloud’s True Advantage is Bringing Focus to Solving Problems

Looking at the Loudoun Heights from the Maryland Heights near Harper's FerryI’ve been talking cloud for years. Most of it was focused on simply removing unnecessary complexity from the world of IT and content management. Why setup servers, create networks, manage databases, or any other tedious, redundant, and valueless tasks?

When I say valueless, I am referring to the fact that managing a database does not bring any differentiating value to your organization. The value comes from the analysis of that data or through the leveraging the data to deliver better, more efficient, products and services to your client-base.

That still isn’t the greatest benefit or the cloud. Too many project spend a lot of time focused on sizing, performance, system compatibilities, and other technical details. That time would be better spent on designing and delivering the ideal solution to the client.

By moving to the cloud, those discussions are taken off of the table. Those conversations don’t exist. The higher up the cloud stack you move (IaaS => PaaS => SaaS), the more conversations focus upon how to better meet the needs of the organization.

Continue reading

Repeating Past Mistakes Won’t Make ECM Work

Stitch banging his head against the wallEvery now and then I read a post that makes me wonder if the older Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendors are intentionally trying to keep the industry stagnant. They make a fair penny selling to people who tried their competitor’s solution and failed. Whey not keep it up for another decade?

That was my response when I read How Free Puppy Syndrome Can Ruin Your ECM Strategy. My first thought that this was going to be a generic attack on open source. While I no longer work for an open source vendor, I am still a fan and think that open source solutions provide strong value.

It wasn’t that simple. The article attacked everyone who is trying to take the industry from one of failure to one of universal adoption. I am going to address all the bullet points.

The author meant for each point to be an indicator for failure.

Continue reading

Content Management Step One, Capture that Information

A Cinnabon treatThere were a lot of disagreements on my view that Box or Dropbox will be a leader in Content Management in five years. Some were willing to concede that in the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market it might be the case but not in larger Enterprises. To anyone relying on that argument, I suggest refreshing yourself on how disruptive technologies attack a market.

I want to take a moment to explain why one of them WILL be a player in the market. It all comes down to one simple point, they capture content.

Continue reading

What You Need to Know about Cloud-base Content Management, AIIM 2012 Style

A couple months ago, I spoke at the AIIM 2012 Conference on the topic Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Cloud-Based Content Management (But Were Afraid to Ask). It was fun and I’ve been meaning to share the presentation with everyone but there have been two issues:

  1. The presentation is image heavy and even with notes, SlideShare doesn’t really help convey the content.
  2. The video was under wraps because it was under consideration for the free Best of AIIM 2012 virtual event in June.

Lucky for you, my session was deemed not one of the very best and I can share it with you now. I’d be upset if the quality of sessions at the AIIM Conference this hadn’t been so high. Billy Cripe gave a great presentation on Two Types of Collaboration and Ten Requirements for Using Them and that didn’t make the cut, but you can see that online now.

So, complete with the Q&A session, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Cloud-Based Content Management:

If you take anything away from the presentation, remember this:

  • The cloud is big and evolving. If your solution isn’t available today, it may be tomorrow.
  • You face the same issues if you stay at home as you would if you move to the cloud.
  • Creating new Information Islands is the new big trap. Avoid them.

Watch the presentation to learn more details on those takeaways, cloud terminology, and why Darth Vader is in the default image.  I’m also speaking on Moving Content Management to the Cloud: A Practical Perspective at info360 if you are planning to be there in June.

Please feel free to ask questions or add your thoughts in the comments below.

Nuxeo World 2011: Opening Keynote

Attending Nuxeo World this year as a day 2 keynote speaker and as a sponsor. Those two facts are related but not tied together (My company didn’t pay to be a sponsor in order for me to speak).

As I didn’t write an rules post, using this paragraph. As with EMC World, I will try and take notes. Errors and omissions are likely mine. I’ll be using the normal disclaimer.

If you want to follow on Twitter, follow #NxX11.

Continue reading

Content Management, the Cloud, and Disruptions

Not too long ago, I made a snarky comment about the cloud on twitter. I don’t know why anyone noticed as I make snarky comments all the time. This time, someone did notice and asked me if “cloud” was my least favorite word of all time. I gave both a snarky and serious response. The short version is that I don’t hate the word, just the overuse of the word.

I recently talked to a vendor that had started recently with the word “Cloud” in their name. After seeing their product, I realized that their product as cloud specific as Linux or Windows. They just used the term because it started meetings. I could have made use of their tool on multiple projects over my career, before the cloud.

So let’s look at the reason I made my snarky comment. It all started with an article, and like my best snarky comments of late, it involved Box….

Continue reading

Don’t Discount the Cloud Guys


Was going to have a multi-rant post, but I’ve decided to slice and dice. I thought I would start with a warning for all the Content Management vendors.

Never discount the cloud guys. They are dangerous. Today they may just be file-sharing or basic document management but tomorrow they’ll be the de facto cloud content repository. As fast as you think you are moving, they are moving faster.

Those flying cloud monkeys have no problem throwing new features up there at a pace that will make your head spin just to see what sticks. They don’t need to make a profit today as they are working to make profit in the future. The source of that profit? Money that is now going to all the other content providers.

How do you beat them? Simple, fix your pricing structure to a metered/usage approach and move to a secure cloud, now. Older vendors know the market better, so if they get the architecture figured out fast enough, they can take the cloud monkeys down.

Oh, and fix that user interface and work on a mobile strategy. Both of these can be handled with agile development processes that you can use to match the cloud guys.

Yes, the cloud guys aren’t there yet, but they are driving a Veyron.

Popularity in Leadership

image Had a really strange day today. Lot’s of thought on strategy at work, a series of striking events, participation in #LeadershipChat, and finally an album that took me back to a reflective time in my life.

During #LeadershipChat, Lou Imbriano said True leaders have little concern with popularity ~ which leads to credibility. This lead to a mini-debate that was partly brought about by trying to make things black-and-white and the fact that we were communicating 140 characters at a time.

One key distinction is that there are two aspects of leadership that are impacted by popularity, the leaders and the decisions they make.

Continue reading

EMC World 2011: Momentum Keynote

Ladies and Gentlemen, the session we have been waiting for, the keynote. Will be interesting to hear what Rick Devenuti says. I already know he is a better presenter than Mark Lewis, but let’s focus on the content. Based upon what I heard from the European Momentum and saw at AIIM, it should be better.

This is just the notes. Analysis will follow later. Enjoy.

Continue reading