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Can your content PaaS the test?

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Bakhtiar Zein)

We’re all masters of content creation, but keeping track of how many files that are saved on personal laptops is a task in itself, never mind the mountain of information an average company creates and consumes.

The number of internet users has grown by over a billion in the last five years, and more than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones. Users create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, and that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the last two years alone the world’s population has created 90 per cent of the total data the world has ever generated, and is also capable of generating more than 5 billion internet searches every day.

When put into perspective these figures can be quite mind-boggling, so, keeping on top of all the data that a company generates, manages, stores and shares is quite an undertaking.

Managing data and regulations

Content is everything an organisation has and works with. From data points, presentations, insurance claims, financial documents and healthcare records, the amount of physical information is staggering.

Much of it is information remains in the dark, pre-cloud age in on-premises infrastructure, because there is no simple way to lift and shift it. Much of it is also siloed and archived in hard to reach folders to remain lost forever. Sharing information – between departments or offices – also becomes increasingly difficult as a company grows or the number of customers increases.

In addition, the constant evolution of regulations, such as GDPR, calls for more attention to be paid to the way in which data and content is managed, stored and shared. With the threat of incurring fines, and the importance of data protection increasing, businesses need to ensure that the workforce is able to stick to regulations and handle the content without jeopardising the business.

When it comes to PaaS

Cloud content management is not a new concept. Developers who don’t want to worry about underlying infrastructure have been talking about cloud adoption for as long as we can remember. Businesses of all sizes and across industries have already embraced the concept of content management in the cloud, with 44 per cent of organisations managing or moving at least 50 per cent of their unstructured content through the cloud.

But while it is a staple for many developers, to move businesses forward, adopting cloud capabilities to manage the content surge is the next logical step. Adopting this in a platform-as-a-service style allows organisations to benefit from the as-a-service phenomenon that came with software (SaaS) and has stretched to infrastructure (IaaS). This option brings many of the benefits of cloud content management, without the burden of building and maintaining the infrastructure to support it.

Using PaaS for content management enables organisations to build and run their own processes and content intensive applications in a fully managed and hosted environment. It also means that services such as Content as a Service, Process as a Service, Governance as a Service, and AI as a Service are built into the platform and can be leveraged where needed. Content management platforms are not one size fits all, with a PaaS option, organisations can easily tailor apps to the unique needs of their employees and customers.

Evaluating the next step

Companies often find their time and energy is absorbed just to keep the place running and the lights turned on. At the same time, they have a host of new challenges including working with legacy systems that are not fit for purpose and handling an ever-expanding volume and variety of content.

They are also fighting a constant battle to recruit or retain IT staff to keep their in-house systems operational.

With the aim of easing the pressure on IT teams, implementing a PaaS to ease the burden of content management, also provides instant business benefits for any organisation including:

  • Innovation: With a modern digital business platform built to work optimally in the cloud, PaaS delivers solutions that drive operational excellence and new customer experiences
  • Big Savings: Elastic compute and low-cost storage resources eliminate the upfront infrastructure investments. Companies only pay for the capacity they use
  • Instant Implementation: Avoid provisioning delays and quickly roll-out new code using modern DevOps techniques
  • Content Availability: Make content available to more people and applications. Machine Learning and other cloud AI services enrich content and make it more findable and actionable
  • Governance Policies: Consistently apply best practice guidelines and centrally manage cloud content.
  • Security: Provide the security governance of the cloud provider for the business’ needs

Stop the ROT

Choosing the right PaaS provider comes down to a combination of factors, and shouldn’t just be about the providers that a business may have engaged with in the past. Not only will a business have to judge the vendor’s ongoing commitment to the cloud, but also their ability to embrace AI and ML technologies. Evaluating their commitment to cloud will involve looking out for their product capabilities and their existing parentships with leading cloud providers. Afterall, having a provider that works with the latest cloud services will enhance your applications, and will be vital components in the ability to manage content in the future.

Another question to ask is whether they can provide benchmarks for processing documents at speed on a cloud technology stack? For insurance or banking services, with a high throughput of documents, this is a vital requirement for a PaaS service provider.

Decision makers will also need to consider whether the provider has good information governance procedures in place or not. Having good procedures in place will let you set up seamless information flows that deliver content in context with built-in compliance. This can help you stop the ROT (Redundant, Obsolete or Trivial data), especially when it comes to GDPR regulations.

One final key consideration requires a look into the future and business development plans. IDC calls open technology a ‘mandatory cloud evaluation criterion’. So ensure your vendor has a content services platform built on open API’s and technologies that allows you to extend your cloud solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Plus, the open-source community is a tremendous source of innovation and adaptation.

Using PaaS opens up many avenues for organisations to build and deploy exactly what they need to manage the mammoth amounts of content produced. No matter the department or stakeholder, IT will be able to quickly equip them with what they need so they can say goodbye to days of losing hours searching for missing Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations – and have all the content needed at their fingertips.

Steve Braden, Head of Product Marketing, Alfresco