There is no escaping the overwhelming hype when it comes to the Cloud. Everywhere you go, someone has something to sell that’s now available “in the cloud.” I’m reminded of a t-shirt I once saw – “Remember when the Cloud was called the Internet?” So amidst of all of this banter, you have to ask yourself, what is truly new here and what value is it providing? What’s not in doubt is the tremendous pressure IT is under to find ways to do things better, faster and cheaper than ever before. This is especially important when you consider that today’s enterprise application projects: are usually 2x over budget; have deployment costs that are 5-15x the cost of the software; and can take 6-9 months to put into production. Not to mention that 73% of IT budgets today are committed to maintaining the existing infrastructure despite corporate edicts to prioritize IT spending on business transformation initiatives. Regardless of where you sit on the whole hype debate, the Cloud has obvious appeal when it comes to delivering flexible compute capacity, reduced operational expense and faster time to value. I feel that we’re in a similar situation with the Cloud as we were with eCommerce years ago. Once you address some of the fundamental issues (like security, legal/data protection, etc), the floodgates will open and the cloud will soon become the dominant deployment model for enterprise software.
However, when it comes to moving ECM to the Cloud there exists a fair amount of trepidation and confusion with regards to security, data privacy/jurisdiction and choosing the right deployment model (Private, Public, Hybrid, SaaS, Paas, IaaS, etc). Putting data privacy/jurisdiction aside for a moment (since it has to do more with geopolitical rules and regulations), today’s traditional cloud offerings do address the capital cost issues (related to buying and securing hardware, etc) and allow you to deploy applications faster. However, they don’t go far enough when it comes to reducing the management costs and complexity for IT and don’t necessarily provide the added level of security needed to support today’s highly regulated industries. After all, with ECM we’re talking about Tier-1 mission-critical enterprise applications, not simply running Microsoft Office apps in the Cloud. So with all of the choices out there, we still find ourselves asking if there is a better way to bring ECM to the Cloud in a way that is faster, cheaper, more secure and drastically simplifies IT?
Based on everything I’ve seen in this space over the last couple of years, one approach certainly worth considering is EMC’s new OnDemand service. So before you think this is nothing more than a company advertisement, just allow me a minute to highlight why this approach is so different and could point the way to how all enterprise applications are delivered in the future.
There are three key innovations that make EMC’s OnDemand inherently different from other ECM cloud offerings:
1. It’s a managed service. It delivers ECM applications (Document Management, Capture, Customer Communications Management and Case Management) directly to customers along with all of the infrastructure and associated support (software updates, performance tuning, etc.) provided by EMC experts. This provides substantial cost savings when you consider that for every $1 spent on Tier-1 enterprise software, organizations spend anywhere from $5 to $15 in annual support (provisioning data centers, buying hardware, backup & disaster recovery procedures, help desk costs , system architect and network administration support, etc.). It essentially, provides a “system-ready” environment that leverages all of EMC’s market-leading assets (enhanced storage and back-up recovery hardware, virtualization, security and ECM). This provides customers with a complete, highly secure end-to-end cloud platform environment that substantially simplifies managing and delivering ECM applications.
2. The entire ECM service is provided in a virtualized container, called the VCUBE. The VCUBE is a “multi-service virtual appliance” that encapsulates multiple ECM solutions (including their associated test, dev and production environments), all of the system componentry, configurations and associated data into a single virtual container. It provides everything you needed to run content management applications in one, highly-secure environment. It’s surrounded by vShield Edge (from VMware) for security and is designed so each customer has their own application environment and associated set of resources. As a result, the VCUBE eliminates the potential of customer data being co-mingled between system environments – addressing one of the chief market concerns and essential for today’s highly-regulated industries. Equally important is that the VCUBE allows customers to provision ECM applications in just a few hours, compared to the 3-6 months it can take today (when you consider buying hardware, project setup, installing operating systems, installing database, installing app, test & dev servers, network setup, configuring backup and monitoring, etc. …providing tremendous speed to value. This same innovation also allows EMC to neatly package its ECM applications (and partner solutions) and make them available in an “App Store-like” environment – giving customers a fast, easy and frictionless way to buy and provision their solutions.
3. The VCUBE architecture is portable, running either on-premise or off-premise. This flexibility is a key distinguishing factor when compared to other private and/or public Cloud offerings. Here customers can “float” the entire VCUBE (along with all of its elements) off-premise or on-site at a customer’s data center. This gives customers a tremendous agility in how they deploy their solutions – especially useful when you want to dynamically move your on-premise application to the cloud to take advantage of system/resource elasticity during peak periods.
In effect, it’s because of these ground-breaking innovations that ECM can now be deployed faster, more securely and with greater agility than ever before – while substantially reducing costs (both capital and resource expense) and ultimately simplifying IT. This is creating the energy and excitement about what the Cloud has to offer and how it can rapidly evolve both IT and the line of business (LOB). Now organizations can confidently move forward to make the Cloud work for them to drive a new wave of business transformation throughout the entire enterprise – especially for mission critical applications. Hopefully you can see that there is in fact a better way to deliver ECM … and it’s all available today, OnDemand.
For a fun and entertaining look at EMC OnDemand, check out these videos:
For more detailed information be sure to check out the following videos: