Second in a series

Disparate content silos, device dependencies, and isolated collaborative workspaces are impediments to productivity, operational efficiency and customer responsiveness. In today’s global economy, integrated content and information management systems, mobile devices use, and shared access to information anytime from anywhere are essential to maintaining high levels of customer service and a competitive edge.

Most organizations have used on-premise applications to manage their content but are finding that on-premise alone is not the most viable option for supporting organizational needs, particularly across large and geographically diverse organizations. For them, the use of integrated, private cloud applications becomes the common denominator in forming a strong, enterprise wide, content management ecosystem capable of meeting the 100 percent availability requirements customers demand.

Organizations considering cloud solutions see the benefits of providing device-independent browser access, user self-service, location-independent virtualized servers, fluid scalability, continuous/contiguous upgrades, transparent failure recovery, and simplified pricing. But there remains a reluctance to adopt them due to concerns over governance and security, additional repository fragmentation, and integration with legacy systems.

Enter the private cloud. Private clouds move organizations forward by linking and synchronizing content across repositories, reducing IT costs and enhancing content accessibility, application flexibility and user scalability, all while maintaining control of security. In this scenario, cloud services are deployed not through an online service provider, but internally, and they are maintained under IT control.

When asked about use of cloud for applications such as records management, bid and contract management, HR processes, etc., AIIM research finds that despite some reluctance, there is a willingness to explore how cloud applications can benefit the organization. Records managers lead the way with 14% already using cloud and 33% willing to consider it.  This same research finds that while the majority of respondents indicated they would put a third of their content in the cloud, another third indicate they would put 50-75% of their content in the cloud. When asked about deployment, respondents made private cloud by far the most popular option.

Where is the Value?

Private clouds allow organizations to be more flexible, scalable, accessible, and cost effective, all behind the security of the corporate firewall. Implementation, content migration, deployment and upgrades are all managed behind the firewall. Deployment is as simple as pointing users to their portal where security and access control over information assets is managed internally by IT. Scale-up and scale-down are as simple as adding or removing access authorization for the users. When upgrades are needed, everyone is upgraded simultaneously, keeping everyone at the same version and minimizing involvement by IT. This frees up IT personnel to refocus their efforts on more mission-critical projects.

Private clouds provide multiple levels of integration and interoperability across disparate systems in the enterprise, including mainframe applications. Extension to hybrid scenarios using public cloud services, perhaps to involve external parties, enhances collaborative interactions. In this way, the user experience is one of a single point of access using a device-independent interface to access all of the information required to achieve business goals.

Disaster preparedness is managed through the creation of redundant information dispersed across several nodes within the firewall. In this way, if a node should drop from service, a fail-safe mechanism automatically and seamlessly redirects activity to the next node for business continuity. Primary records reference with reference pointers to other copies to ensure the original is maintained and presented in accordance with records management and compliance policies.

What to Look For

Private clouds should serve as mediators between the disparate systems across enterprises, whether content management or a line-of-business application on a mainframe. They should be seen as platforms that allow you to manage content in place, link the various repositories, create searchable indices, and allow user access through a single interface using their device of choice.

Security and access controls for internal and external parties will be controlled centrally and aligned to the regulatory and compliance requirements of the region, industry and legal jurisdictions.

Capture and encrypted storage should be flexible, with options to manage centrally or distributed in support of the business and compliance requirements. Automated indexing and simplified workflow capabilities should enable users to streamline mundane, repetitive processes and activities, while audit trails and system monitoring keep an eye on the operational side of the business.

Hybrid options should be supported, allowing a private cloud to interact with public cloud applications to enhance collaborative work efforts with external parties.

While one of the attractions of public cloud is pricing, private-cloud pricing should align closely with public cloud offerings in both transaction- and subscription-based models.

Adoption No Longer in Question

The advantages of cloud applications have become apparent in many organizations, yet reluctance to adoption remains. Private clouds deliver the value seen from public-cloud applications with the security of being behind the corporate firewall and under corporate control.

A private cloud should be positioned as a platform that bridges content silos across the enterprise, synchronizes corporate information, provides access to users via their device of choice, and presents it in the way they want it.

Private clouds move organizations forward. They make information more accessible, applications more flexible and scalable, and IT organizations more effective. They enable collaboration by extending to public-cloud applications when needed and offer disaster preparedness through redundant synchronization of information across several nodes.

The question is no longer if organizations will move to private clouds, but when and how.

Bob Larrivee is Director of Custom Research at AIIM. Andrea Chiappe is Director of Innovation and Strategy at Systemware.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]