Managing Content Gets Easier, Despite Big Challenges

Content management is getting easier with the advent of new commercial CM packages, vendor alliances, and some industry standards. Jacqueline Emigh surveys the current content management scene and reveals several key considerations to take into account when choosing a CM solution.

 By Jacqueline Emigh
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Tulane, Volvo, and Coca-Cola are just a few of the organizations that have started to use commercial content management (CM) solutions. Products in the CM category tie together web pages, database files, e-mail, and other content into a single, searchable place. Major systems vendors like IBM, Microsoft, and Sun are also making big plays in this space. Beyond merely implementing CM, enterprise administrators are specifying systems requirements and even making buying decisions. With so many possibilities out there, how do you choose?

By 2004, more than 95 percent of Global 2000 will have purchased a CM system, compared to only 60 percent in early 2002, according to a study by the Meta Group. More CM deployments will be "large and strategic" by 2004 as well, instead of just limited to a single site, for instance.

Last year, though, 60 percent of all mid-sized to large organizations were still using homegrown tools and applications for managing Web content, according to research results from the Yankee Group. Yankee characterizes these homegrown tools as typically offering only "rudimentary" security, access control, and workflow. Meanwhile, analysts agree that the content management needs of most organizations keep growing more and more complex.

"Multiple Possible Points of Failure"

"Content management is a very difficult challenge," contends Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk. "There are multiple possible points of failure, including the content delivery system, the database backend, the application, and the user interface, for example."

Beyond web content, relational database files, and e-mail, companies may need to manage some or all of the following: accounting spreadsheets, PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, video files, application development code, X-ray results, and scanned-in, paper-based medical records.

Tulane University, for example, is now running five instances of Xerox's DocuShare content management system, two of them on Sun Solaris servers and the remainder on Windows 2000 and NT. Two of these five implementations -- an accounts payable system and a medical research archive -- have been customized to meet the needs of specific applications, says Tulane's Mike Britt.

Tulane started to move to DocuShare about 18 months ago from a series of FTP servers that were turning into "both a security issue and an administrative issue," according to Britt.

Page 2: Network Managers Play a Growing Role

This article was originally published on May 6, 2003
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