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Cloud and on-premises hybrid: The future of mobile content management
By Cameron McKenzie
29 May 2013 | TheServerSide.com
Software architects want to leverage big data and the cloud, while chief security officers opine over the various regulatory and security requirements that can only be addressed by storing documents on-premises. The solution? More and more enterprise organizations are embracing a cloud and on-premises hybrid, which is exactly the direction in which the thought leaders at Alfresco see the future of mobile content management moving.
Mobilization isn't just about getting your documents, but it's about actually working.
director of mobile products, Alfresco
I have always liked Alfresco. Maybe it's due to my open source leanings, or maybe it's because I've always liked the product's ability to manage multiple resource types, from large documents to basic Web content with workflows. There's nothing worse than heading into a consulting engagement and finding out that a given company is using IBM's Web Content Manager for images and HTML, Documentum for larger media files and some other rag-tag assembly of tools that try to integrate workflow and business process management between them all. The temptation is always to rip it all out and replace it with one tool to rule them all, and that one tool often ends up being an Alfresco offering.
Earlier in the month, TheServerSide had the opportunity to speak with Marc Dubresson, the director of mobile products at Alfresco, about some of the inroads they are making with regards to mobile proliferation and cloud computing, and how all of these technologies are getting tied together in their latest offerings.
The true value of going mobile
"What does mobilizing really mean?" Dubresson asked rhetorically. "It's not just about getting your documents, but it's about actually working." After all, downloading a PDF from the content management repository and reading it on your handheld device isn't anything new or revolutionary. However, managing workflows, reviewing documents, submitting changes, and requiring authorizations and approvals is a completely different ball of wax. Fortunately, Alfresco has proven themselves fit for tackling the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workflow challenge.
"In version 1.4 of Alfresco Mobile for iOS we introduced tasks. You can start a workflow internally in the enterprise or on the mobile device, such as assigning a document for review to someone." And the plan is to integrate more and more of the workflow process into the mobile device with future iterations. "We currently have review and approve. The vision for the future is to really bring on the full workflow to mobile. That is where you add value to the business process," Dubresson said.
But Alfresco's mobile enterprise content management (ECM) revolution isn't about writing mobile apps for every conceivable corporate workflow. The open source, iOS Alfresco Mobile app is instead a showcase for what is possible, and it's an application that can be used as a template by organizations that can be further tweaked and customized to fit the needs of a given project. The whole idea is that Alfresco can provide a basic platform that supports cloud, mobile and on-premises content management, and using that platform, organizations can easily create their own custom solutions. For Alfresco, "the mobile revolution isn't about building all the solutions that companies need, but enabling solutions by providing the platform."
Content is king, and as such ECM plays a key role in every organization's global IT strategy. And with the need for modern day solutions requiring the ability to bind together cloud computing technologies, a proliferation of mobile devices and solid, on-premises repositories that can deal more easily with security and regulatory issues, Alfresco's mobile and hybrid offerings are servicing the community well by delivering a viable, open source alternative to the market.
How are you applying cloud and ECM solutions to traditional enterprise computing problems? Let us know how you are leveraging big data. And for more cloud, mobile and ECM insight, follow Cameron McKenzie on twitter (@potemcam).