Thursday, 13 December 2007

ECM systems and portals

So, the other evening a colleague asked me how you would describe to a user where the ECMS ends and the enterprise portal starts, or vice versa.

Well if your a techie, its easy, get out the systems diagrams and say "well this is the Documentum ECMS and this is the AquaLogic portal". Of course connecting the two things in the diagram might be some JSR168 portlets which provide access to ECMS content........

But in reality its not that easy is it ? Especially if you take a non-techie, information management centric viewpoint. The AIIM definition of ECM includes: "technologies used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content".

So in this case a portal (with a small ''p' - as in 'portal software' see the Wikipedia definition) can be just one of many delivery mechanisms, with JS168 or WSRP 'portlets', Microsoft's 'web parts' or other technologies being used to surface content. However it truly never is that easy. Most (if not all ?) enterprise portal software frameworks offer integrated web publishing tools, and many offer an integrated 'document management' facility e.g. BEA Aqualogic, IBM WebSphere, and if I may offer a personal opinion, is this not what MS MOSS 2007 really is ? A portal with built in lightweight document management, but of course 'portal' is what Sharepoint (oops, MOSS) is good at even though they took the word out of its title, which is why EMC, OpenText and others are all rushing to 'work with' MOSS.

Personaly I really like BEA AquaLogic's 'Knowledge Directory' which can display a 'folder structure' in the portal, which in reality is just links to many possible repositories (file servers, ECMS etc). Anyway, in the future Service Oriented Architecture world, your ECMS of choice should just provide 'content services' to your presentation layer of choice.

Meanwhile, the Alfresco team are pushing the boundaries with their standards based open source ECMS now having an integration with Facebook (as well as more 'conventional' portals). Just 'google' for "Facebook and Intranet" to get into that whole conversation, and you will see the 'enterprise 2.0' connection.

Just to swing back to the 'enterprise 2.0 / ECM 2.0' meme before signing off on this one, the delivery mechanism I would like to see a lot more off, especially as 'out of the box' functionality is RSS (I think Alfresco might be ahead on this). If you can surface not just the 'content centric collaboration' elements such as discussions, subscriptions etc, but also XML content, saved search results etc then your getting to the place where you can use iGoogle, Pageflakes and so on as the 'portal' for your SaaS ECM service......... phew, a lot to think about there....... :-)

1 comment:

Tony Hirst said...

So when is the OU search engine going to start offering OpenSearch RSS?