There’s been a lot of hype recently from companies in the space talking about content moving to the cloud. There’s no doubt that the cloud is disrupting the way enterprise software is delivered, but the reality is still a long way off.
While enterprises are investing in cloud services, most of these services only store a fraction of the content enterprises hold today with the majority of their content still being stored behind the firewall. In some cases this is due to legacy investments, but in most it’s due to the complex security and regulatory concerns that prevent them from using the cloud to store all their content.
For example, most financial services institutions such as banks will fire you for simply emailing yourself a regulated document as an attachment (as happened recently to someone I know) let alone allow their staff to use cloud services. Another challenge with cloud adoption is that companies outside the US can’t put certain content in any cloud service with operations in the US due to the US Patriot Act.
The reality is even when organizations have contracts with some of the new cloud-only vendors, they still have to keep highly confidential and regulated content in their own data centers – meaning most of these cloud services are only used for day-to-day file sharing and not proper content management and storage.
The impact on end-users is that they now have to use two separate products to access their content. On the one hand they get an easy-to-use, consumer-like service with mobile device access in the cloud, but are then forced back to a ‘system that sucks’ behind the firewall for the majority of their content that is confidential and regulated.
In reality, end-users frustrated by the situation copy all the content they need to the cloud services, completely breaking the enterprise’s rules and regulations. This results in multiple copies of the same content being stored with all the versioning problems that come along with that. Employees are doing this because the workplace has changed and IT has been slow to meet the demands of today’s worker.
Today’s worker wants to collaborate with people both inside and outside their organization. They want to work remotely without becoming experts in setting up and using VPN. They want to be able to access their content on all their devices. But most of all they want it to be as simple and rich to use like the consumer services they have been exposed to online.
The Hybrid Dream
It’s obvious that cloud has a lot of benefits to end-users who want to do anything with their content outside the firewall. But cloud vendors can only provide a fraction of the enterprise content management (ECM) solution for a fraction of the content that enterprises must manage – forcing them back to ‘systems that suck’ behind the firewall.
The solution would be to provide a fully compliant, secure platform on both sides of the firewall that meets the needs of today’s worker. Regardless of whether the user is accessing a document in the cloud or behind the firewall, they would see the same version using the same simple, easy-to-use product across all of their devices.
CIOs want to reclaim control of what’s allowed to go into the cloud and what needs to stay behind the firewall while at the same time users would have a great and consistent experience for all the content they need to collaborate on regardless of where it’s stored.
The only way to truly provide this level of simplicity and integration on both sides of the firewall is if both services are the same.
For the CIOs, that means having the same data models so you don’t lose critical information when synchronizing changes between the cloud and on-premise, the same permission models so you don’t end up losing security when sharing content in the cloud and the same APIs so your developers can create solutions that work for all your content on both sides of the firewall. This is what makes the ECM features invisible to end-users who want to simply work with their content between the services without disruption.
Until enterprises move all their content into the cloud, a hybrid solution is the only way to meet both the needs of the CIO and today’s modern worker.
The Evolving Vendor Landscape
No other vendors have found a solution to this problem. The legacy ECM vendors are so outdated and behind the needs of today’s modern worker, they are one of the key reasons users are taking their content to the cloud in the first place.
The new cloud vendors who address the needs of today’s end-user without any real solution to the complex regulatory requirements of enterprises, force enterprises to maintain their legacy solutions for the majority of their content.
At most, they can hack together a hybrid solution, but the reality is connecting two completely different systems with fundamentally different architectures, data, security models and UIs is messy and complex.
For the past seven years, Alfresco has built one of the most usable, modern and complete ECM platforms in the industry, which is used to manage billions of documents by over seven million people in over 180 countries worldwide.
With cloud, mobile and on-premise, all working seamlessly in sync together, Alfresco is the only vendor truly capable of delivering the hybrid dream and managing all an organization’s content consistently regardless of where they need to store it.
If you’d like to learn more about how to take advantage of the industry’s first hybrid cloud solution, listen to the webinar I just wrapped up on the realties of cloud content management, Id love to hear your feedback!