unFUDding Cloud Content Management

child-1099770_1280Yesterday (May 30, 2016) I read this article which contends that Box, Dropbox, and others are not content management platforms. I was considering not linking to the article and just putting up screen shots of the main points, but I decided on the link instead. The article is nothing but FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) being spread by an on-premises content management provider (props for dropping Gartner, Forrester, and AIIM names though). As a bit of a refresher on where I stand, you might want to read this whitepaper I wrote last year (sponsored by Box, 12 pages long). By the way, I tried to post a comment to the article, but it seems the site’s not taking comments (mine had a couple links).

Without further ado I’ll get into the counter arguments to the author’s “five reasons why cloud file sharing platforms can’t touch document management software platforms from an enterprise functionality standpoint” …

  1. Security at all costs – If the author had written something about data residency I would have bought it, probably. However, the author goes on about a bunch of FUD, and does nothing to dispel it. The author also illustrates her lack of knowledge, not only of security issues, but also of the capabilities of the cloud players. She implies that many think that on-premises security is better, which we know isn’t the case. Major hacks and leaks have come primarily from on-premises data centres.
  2. Document storage and beyond – uhm, just plain wrong. Sure, it may take a combination of tools to achieve the same level of functionality that one could achieve with a traditional, legacy suite such as OpenText, Filenet, or Documentum, but is that really a bad thing? Haven’t we already accepted that the whole ECM world is actually changing and the way forward is platforms, integrations, and API’s? I have. Has someone forgotten the abysmal success rate of traditional ECM deployments?
  3. Not yet ready for primetime – What? This is 2016, technology is changing and advancing more rapidly than ever. No one has a 10+ year window any more to demonstrate anything. Those traditional ECM players you mention are precisely the reason people and organizations are going to the cloud. Traditional ECM platforms are old and out of date. Yes, some are making changes, re-architecting, and adding CLOUD -FREAKIN’-CAPABILITIES-DAMMIT!!!
  4. Migration issues – Really? You really want to go there? How ‘bout migrating from OpenText to SharePoint? Or from Documentum to Filenet? Or from what you’re selling to anything else? Or from file shares to whatever the hell you want to name? Migration sucks. Always has sucked. Always will suck. Cloud or on-premises makes no friggin’ difference.
  5. Performance concerns – hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Ha. That’s cute.
  6. It’s ON-PREMISES for ***** sake!

Now I’m just angry and irritated. I need a drink.

I’m not saying that everyone should move everything to the cloud, but at the very least think a bit and don’t buy into the nonsense spouted by some people who may have something to gain by spreading FUD. The fact is that managing content in the cloud, whether via cloud capabilities of legacy vendors or via the “new” vendors, is perfectly viable. The key is to know what your requirements are before choosing a technology.

For a different take on this, check out this excellent post by Paula Smith on Linkedin.

14 Comments on “unFUDding Cloud Content Management

  1. Pingback: Internet Debate: Box, Dropbox not a real ECM | ECM Reads

  2. HA! I couldn’t agree more, great response. Also, after seeing “databases of files” in the article I took it far less seriously to say the least haha.
    In terms of migration, there are companies working very hard on this, and yes, I see much more issues migrating from/between legacy ECM systems than new EFSS systems.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great points but I have to throw a point in on migrations.

    At this point I won’t throw Box and DropBox into this bucket, but there has to be a concern with smaller cloud platforms. There’s been a few that have gone bankrupt. There was one case with the company gave it’s customer less than 30 days to find a new home for it’s content. If the contents not easy to get out, you can be in trouble. There have been other cases recently but not a drastic.

    This risk is the same if it’s a small new cloud vendor or a small new ECM vendor.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would generally agree that this is a FUD type article written by a “journalist” not an “analyst” but I would like to point out that migration from an established vendor like FileNet (etc.) has been done for years and there is third-party software that allows for migration. Migration is not just moving files but moving files and metadata. In the case of Box or Dropbox, what you would get is a hard drive (who is going to download 5 TB of data over a line?) with your files copied onto them without the metadata and other identifying data needed to load them onto another database. This means a massive effort to figure out the original structure and re-construct that structure in the new database or system.

    I would point out, however, if the established ECM vendors are so great, why has this secondary industry grown so fast and is beginning to overtake, in many respects, the establishment?


    • Exactly. The established vendors aren’t so great. They are trapped by their own customers and long list of features. I defy anyone to show me how this is not a classic case of tech disruption as described by Clayton Christensen.


    • Bud – your point about migrations is correct. However, given the nature of what the other article says, I’m standing behind what I wrote, however undetailed it may be. 🙂


        • On a more serious note … how long until migration to, from, or between cloud repositories gets sorted and supported by the types of tool you mention in your comment?


          • I’d say they’re ready to go! The app I work with (linked in my name) does precisely what Bud and yourself are describing. We have seen organizations move FAR more than 5TB over the wire, replicate file/directory structure into the cloud from on-premises or between clouds, as well as map user and group permissions.

            But yes, without a 3rd party tool the prospect of truly successful enterprise migration to Box or Dropbox is not really achievable.


          • Luke, thanks for the info. I’ll take a look. The “problem” is, in my experience, that companies that use EFSS systems like Box, are not real up on using a taxonomy or metadata and the only metadata available is the folder/subfolder layout. While Box has included metadata and a place for a taxonomy, I’m not sure how well that is used.


          • Chris, I follow this and don’t see, yet, any real migration software being built for cloud-based systems. It is, I think, only a matter of time as there are probably not many “large” customers moving from Box to Dropbox or Box to OnBase, etc. Could be a good thing to put on your watch list.


  5. There are certainly functional gaps that need to be filled. Depending on a whole bunch of factors, companies like CloudfindHQ, GlassIG, Egnyte, and a startup I’m talking to next week could pull something together. Sorry, Luke not familiar with your stuff, but will check it out – feel free to send me stuff if you wish, chris.walker@phigsimc.com.

    From personal experience, metadata and taxonomy with Box was an unpleasant experience when I tested it out. Perhaps it’s gotten better.


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