Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pay as you go or the traditional On-Premise Software Deployment?

Choices: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or On-Premise ECM Data and Document Capture?

Cloud (or the pay as you go model) has progressed beyond first-generation functionality, and is in a prime position to serve small, mid-size and large firms. It represents an opportunity for organizations to gain competitive advantages through faster daily work processes for far less money than ever, and can be rolled-out in far less time.

Among the many advantages of the Cloud include but are not limited to:

  • No server hardware, operating systems, or server software;
  • No hotfixes/patches or service packs to install or update internally;
  • IT is largely offloaded from internal infrastructure support; 
  • Application administration can be offloaded or outsourced to your Cloud provider.
When evaluating which of the three different consumption methods (Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, On-Premise) of Data and Document Capture software solutions and determining which of the approaches are best for your organization, it boils down to two major decision criteria: Budget and Time to Market. 

Pretty straight forward concept - although here is where you can get creative.   Buying software licenses  usually requires a lengthy and laborious CAPEX process.  CAPEX usually requires lots of paperwork, meetings and can be a very cumbersome ordeal. Using a reputable service organization via the Cloud can avoid the pitfalls of a CAPEX process because it is usually considered an Operating Expense.  The monthly spend is likely less than its counterpart CAPEX purchase.  Operating expenses are where departmental managers have more discretion and can be more flexible with their spend.

Time to Market
No question that time to market is key differentiation between the Cloud and On-Premise. Ask yourself the following questions: how long does it take for your IT department to settle on infrastructure requirements, then how long to procure, install, provision before you ever get around to installing on-premise software solution?   With the Cloud, you literally can be in operation in a matter of hours or days, not weeks, months or quarters.  Your internal IT department can't possibly compete and aside from that point, they probably have more value add serving in other capacities or elsewhere within the organization.

What is a Hybrid Cloud and why should I care?  

Enterprise Content Management is not an entirely all On-Premise or Cloud deployment decision.  Ideally your selected software vendors should provide a Hybrid Cloud Offering in addition to Cloud or On-Premise alternatives.  So what exactly is a Hybrid Cloud Offering in the context of Data and Document Capture?  We can clear this topic up quickly using a fairly simple explanation.

Perhaps your organization is really concerned about data and document security. The final repository - the Content Repository may indeed be best served to be kept internal under IT's lock and key.  Security, control and within the framework of their existing IT infrastructure and management by them sometimes can be the clear choice.  That is completely understandable, we run into that situation frequently. 

However, data and document capture - which is an "on-ramp" into the final destination - the repository or into a business workflow is only a temporary process, not permanent.  The overall lifecycle of the data and documents contained in the Cloud is very short - usually 24 hours or less.  

In this situation described above, the data and document capture solution is deployed in the Cloud and the ECM repository is on-premise.  The data and documents must leave the Cloud data and document capture solution (CAPSYS CAPTURE ONLINE for example) and be sent securely to the internal ECM repository such as OnBase by Hyland, FileBound by Upland,, etc.  In this example, we have now created the "Hybrid Cloud" ECM solution.

Now there are all kinds of variations we can put on this scenario and continue to get very granular.  For example, the cloud based data and document capture solution can be a "hyrbid" solution in and of itself.  You could have database lookup or validation routines bouncing against a web-service that is located internal to your IT department's SQL Server originating from your ERP system such as Dynamics, SAP, Lawson, Peoplesoft, etc.  The web service returns back data and that is used by the cloud data and document capture solution to populate Accounts Payable, Expense Reporting, or Human Resource applications.  You want to leverage your existing data but do it in a manner that doesn't require you take unnecessary risk by replicating the data in yet another database outside of the organization.  This approach has become quite common and would be considered a Hybrid Cloud data and document capture solution.  

The point behind all of this is that cloud based or hybrid cloud data and document capture is a very viable alternative to traditional on-premise only approach.  It can be a less expensive alternative to on-premise and the time to market is unquestionable.  It is not an "all or nothing" decision making process anymore.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and your experiences with Hybrid ECM implementations.