Content Management Systems

I am attending my first Gilbane Content Management Conference in Boston and find it very interesting. It is obvious to me that the content management space is a niche market with many vendors and many organizations using some form of Content Management or Document Management. My initial interest is around the Web Content Systems (WCM) space and I am hoping to identify some strategies and solutions to help us better manage our disparate web resources. We currently manage many different web resources from applications delivered via portals and websites to a crude mix of document management solutions that all need to be managed and integrated with multiple different systems. I have heard a lot of talk about Document Management Systems (DMS), Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECM), Content Management Systems (CMS), and Web Content Systems (WCM). I am not sure of the differences between a CMS and a WCM and I have seen them used interchangeably so for now I will refer to both as WCM.

I am looking for a WCM that is part CMS, part Wiki, part Document Management System, and part Portal. I do not have a budget or an authorized project however we have a need to upgrade our older html and cgi web environments and the thought of a WCM framework behind our complex site would be a real benefit. With no budget I am looking at Open Source Vendors, and I sat in on a discussion about the “Rise of Open Source Content Management” with Kathleen Reidy from the 451 Group and Seth Gottleib for Content Here. Kathleen did a nice job of grouping the Large, Medium and Small Open Source Content Management players along with the proprietary and non-proprietary products, and I found a similar slide deck from Kathleen on Slideshare. Seth outlined the Open Source players into three different open source groups:

Community Open Source – Commercial Open Source  – Institutional Open Source

Seth’s advice was to understand the support and ecosystems of each vendors and that will help to make a good decision surrounding the Open Source vendors. This goes hand in hand with your needs and requirements however often folks looking for Open Source solutions are often looking for an inexpensive solution and you also need to consider support and the viability of the solution you choose.

Another consideration for Web Content Management which I have that I have not worked out is how well will WCM integrate with Enterprise 2.0 and Enterprise Social Computing. Integration with blogs and wiki’s look like a good starting point however another point to consider would be improvements to search within your organization. Content Management systems deployed correctly can provide structured data to your organization which in turn will provide the meta tags to enhance search in your organization.

Enterprise Social Computing

I struggle with the term Enterprise 2.0 but not the concepts. Recently I have heard multiple vendors throw out the term Enterprise 2.0 and I cringe every time that I hear that. I question if they know what they are talking about or are they just trying to sell me something.

I have been in favor of terms like “improved collaboration” for a while now but really see collaboration as a result of Enterprise 2.0 but not the label for it. The next question the business folks usually have for improved collaboration is “how are you going to do that?” and by the time that we get to integration of blogs, wikis, and portals they are completely lost. The term that I am most comfortable with lately is  “Enterprise Social Computing”.  The business folk are starting to see and understand the value of social networking but still need to better understand how it can integrate with their applications and business process to be effective.

I have seen this term a lot lately and first saw it on Dion Hinchcliffe’s Enterprise Web 2.0 blog. Here is Dion’s explanation of Social Computing:

What is social computing? It’s the use of social software within and between organizations and any interested parties such as employees, customers, and partners. Social computing, as explained here, can usher in significant large-scale shifts in where productive forces and innovation come from. Organizations will all adopt enterprise social computing tools in slightly different ways and will generally proceed from ad hoc usage, often by applying widely available consumer tools at first, to more evolved open business models.

Social tools on the Internet have different requirements than Social tools behind the firewall, however a lot of organizations are starting to open up tools and functions that allow folks outside to organization to access data and resources inside the organization. This shift from a totally insulated Intranet to a somewhat open type of Intranet is starting to emerge. MIT is a great example of this with the our OpenCourseWare Project, sharing data and resources with non-MIT students, faculty and staff.

To enable this shift, the tools used by the Enterprise need to change as organizations allow partners and customers access to real time data within the Intranet. Architecture, Authentication strategies and Identity Management will play a big role in security and deployment strategies. Organizations need to balance the security requirements of their most confidential data with the transparent needs of their employees, partners and customers. The “lock everything down model” is no longer acceptable in our 2.0 world and organizational culture will play a big role in adoption and in the transparency of these tools.

So for me, the concepts are the same, but my terminology is different.

Looking for a Social Media Strategy – Are You Frank ?

I would like to share with you a unique little company that helps twitterlogoorganizations with strategies to identify and deploy this new “Web 2.0 – Enterprise 2.0 – Social Media” stuff into organizations. The company is called AreYouFrank or Frank for short, and they help organizations sort thru the 2.0 Social Media stuff. They help organizations with business requirements, project management and with Social deployments, and they do this with a people focus within the new Social Media space.

Many organizations are not ready for the transparency of Web 2.0 but at the same time a lot of organization are ready and they are asking about the tools and strategies needed to introduce these capabilities into their organizations.

In the early years of the dot.com boom we saw more vendors of web solutions than actual consumers of those solutions and now we are seeing the same scenario with the Social Web space, so be careful. But within this crowded space, let me tell you why I think so highly of the Frank group:

I met Jacqueline Prescott who is one of the principles of the areyoufrank group at a number of different conferences in 2008 and then again at the recent Enterprise 2.0 2009. With each meeting I came to better understand their message and strategy which is more than just delivering technology, it is about identifying the business requirements for each project and a methodology that translates business goals into a Social Media strategy.

After challenging Jacqueline on a couple of questions around improved collaboration, she pressed me on what I thought the real value of improved collaboration would be. Nothing I said was good enough, and this went on for over and hour until we got very close to the business process level and she could tie our business processes to business our goals. I could clearly see that this was part of their methodology and this conversation really stuck with me and is what I wanted to share with you today.

 

What I also found unique about the Frank group is that they will share their methodology in the form of a Business Case Builder with you for free so you could review their methodology and deploy it yourself or you can use it with the help of the Frank group.

Now I am sure that the Frank group could better explain what they do, how they do it and how they could help your organization, so if you are looking for some help with this Social Media stuff, then consider visiting the AreYouFrank site or reaching out to Jacqueline Prescott or one of the other principles at Frank.

Social Computing, Professional Collaboration, and 2.0 Adoption

The Boston version of the Enterprise 2.0 conference was over 5 weeks ago however there is still a lot of great Social Computing and Professional Collaboration information that is being shared on a weekly basis. I came across a number of first person interviews from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference that I thought was worth sharing. Level 3 produced 15 different interviews from both Enterprise 2.0 participants and speakers that are worth listening to. The Level 3 site is called The Red Couch and includes interviews from many conferences. All of the Enterprise 2.0 interviews were great but I really enjoyed these four:

  • Steve Wylie from Tech-Web and Enterprise 2.0 Conference
  • Dion Hinchcliffe from ZDNet and Dion Hinchcliffe and Company
  • Mike Gotta from the Burton Group
  • Oliver Marks from Oliver Marks and Company

In the weeks after the Enterprise 2.0 conference, a nice little community has formed to discuss 3686954681_b17c8aff6a_oEnterprise 2.0, Social Computing and 2.0 Adoption issues. The group, started and managed by the ITSinsider – Susan Scrupski is called The 2.0 Adoption Council and has participants on Linkedin, Facebook, Socialcast and Jive. The Linkedin group has moved to Socialcast and Jive however if you are interested in participating in this discussion, join the Linkedin or Facebook 2.0 Adoption Council groups and let us know that you are interested, or you can message me on twitter at @kmullins.
In the middle of this 2.0 adoption discussion, Dion Hinchcliffe wrote an insightful post today about the Top Ten Issues in Adopting Enterprise Social Computing where he identified a list of 10 issues that impact the adoption of Social Computing in the Enterprise.

Here is the list:

  1. Lack of social media literacy amongst workers.
  2. A perception that social tools won’t work well in a particular industry.
  3. Social software is still perceived as too risky to use for core business activities.
  4. Can’t get enough senior executives engaged with social tools.
  5. There is vapor lock between IT and the social computing initiative.
  6. Need to prove ROI before there will be support for social software.
  7. Security concerns are holding up pilot projects/adoption plans.
  8. The needs around community management have come as a surprise.
  9. Difficulties sustaining external engagement.
  10. Struggling to survive due to unexpected success.
    and you can read Dion’s complete post and analysis on ZDNet’s Enterprise Web 2.0 blog.

Social Media Not Social Marketing

My opinion and thoughts surrounding Social Media have really changed in the last 2 weeks primarily due to the revolution in Iran and the role that thousands of people played communicating the issues and letting the world know what was really happening in Iran.

Up until a month ago, I saw Social Media as a Marketing tool and often referred to Social Media as Social Marketing, however, I can see now that I was wrong. The combination of Social Media tools like Twitter, YouTube, and Flicker, and the engaged Iranians using these tools, kept the message coming out of Iran which helped to raise awareness to the rigged election and the beatings, arrests and murders that followed the Iranian election. This stream of information was flowing out of Iran at great risk to those folks sharing the information and as the community of Social Media adopters embraced this and started blogging, tweeting and communicating the message, hundreds of thousands of people from many countries got involved and started covering and communicating this story. This message may have come to light in another way, however access to Social Media tools like Twitter, YouTube and Flicker allowed Iranians the opportunity to share their experiences with us as they happened.

As an active user of many social tools like Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Friendfeed, I saw my activities as Social Networking and the activities of the Marketing and PR folks as Social Media. The fine distinction that I have come to realize is the Marketing and PR folks are using the same Social Media tools that I use, however, their message is different and their desired reach and results are different, however, they are still using the same powerful medium that I am using and therefore I will stop refereeing to Social Media as Social Marketing.

In my opinion, the message of the Iranians and the reaction and support from all non-Iranians proves the legitimacy of Social Media.

Google Wave – New Communications Tool

If you have not heard about Google Wave, this is something that you need to pay attention to. It is a communication tool that merges email, IM, documentation and social networking into one nice integrated tool. The demo was very convincing and really comes off as a nice shared communications tool that will help to increase collaboration.

Although the setup and configurations have not been revealed, it is built on HTML 5 which will not run on some browsers, however, if this starts to take off, you will see a move toward HTML5 in all browsers. This is a tool that has great promise both behind and in front of the firewall, however, I am curious how the Federation authorization will work.

Here is a link to the Google Wave Blog and Dion Hinchcliffe wrote a nice overview of the “Enterprise Implications of Google Wave” which is worth reading.

Social Web Going Open

Last night listened to the The Social Web Tv – Episode 14, which was about Mashups and API’s. What really stuck in my mind was a comment by John McCrea from Plaxo about the social web. John said ……

    “the web going social and the social web going open”

and I find this to be true and wanted to give some examples to back this up.

Years ago, social networks like facebook, friendster, myspace and linkedin were destinations, where they would restrict your data to their site and they would try and keep you on their site. However, we have really changed from this model to a more open model where you can push and pull data to and from each network. This gives us the benefit of flexibility and allows us to control of our data.

Now there are many ways to add social interaction on your blog or web site. Facebook Connect, Google’s Friend Connect, and Friendfeed are all great examples of how you can share and integrate your data on the web. These sites are no longer just destinations but are becoming the fabric of the web along with many others that are adopting this open model.

Cloud Computing Automation Needs

I have received a lot of great feedback on my Cloud Computing Examples post and want to share some thoughts on supporting resources in the Cloud.

Much like managing physical servers, maintaining resources in the cloud will fall on the shoulders of the System and Application Administrators, and these administrators are always looking for tools and scripts to help them automate their duties.

Starting, stopping and rebooting instances in the cloud is a little trickier than starting, stopping and rebooting resources on the server in your computer room. Should there be a real problem with the resource in your computer room, you can always go into the computer room and power down your hardware and restart, knowing that everything (bios, drivers, memory) have been initialized. But this is not true in the cloud, because in the cloud, you can count on re-initializing your resource, however it takes a little more work to make sure that it comes back.

This is one of the points that Justin D. Leider made in his Running your own hardware vs EC2 and Rightscale post. Justin points out the issue of maintaining persistence after reboots. Paul Stamatiou outlined how to do this in his Getting Started with EC2 post, and recently Lubos Rendek who contributes to www.linuxconfig.org, outlined a strategy to create and maintain a EC2 bundle for Ubuntu with this post  How to CREATE-BUNDLE-UPLOAD & ACCESS custom Debian AMI using ubuntu.

These are all great examples and really show the need for products and services that can help automate these functions. We need to make the support of resources in the cloud, similar to the support of resources in our computer rooms. That means balancing cloud access, security, performance, reliability, backups and recoverability, and ensuring that these new types of services are as maintainable and supportable as the services in our computer rooms.

Cloud Computing and SAAS

When I look at the emerging technologies like Cloud Computing and Software as a Service, I question if large businesses and enterprises will invest and adopt these technologies. We know from experience that there could be a gradual adoption on the enterprise side, however the off-network and cloud type services scare most CTO’s and Security Officers, which is all that is needed to slow adoption within the enterprise.

At the same time, Cloud and SAAS services are attractive to startups and companies with limited IT resources and budgets. Cloud Computing and SAAS solutions can be cost effective, however most of these organizations are in a different spot than the larger enterprise organizations. Startups and smaller organizations have the advantage of flexibility and speed which are keys to gaining success and market share. Technical strategies like Cloud Computing and SAAS can go a long way toward introducing mature technologies into these organizations, especially when they are purchased in scaled down pay as you go usage models.

But can we really compare the strategies used in startups against the strategies and technologies used by larger enterprises?  I think we have to, and I think that we should be looking at any technologies and strategies that save us money.

But, I have to ask the question, will they save us money, and with the increasing cost of servers, bandwidth and Data Center’s, is this a sustainable business model for the service providers? What is so different that service providers can allocate, support and make a profit from Cloud, SAAS and Infrastructure type services ? According to John Willis from www.johnmwillis.com, the difference is virtualization …….

As flour is to a cookie, virtualization is to a cloud. People are always asking me (their first mistake) what is the difference between clouds and the Grid hype of the 1990s. My pat answer is virtualization. Virtualization is the secret sauce of a cloud. Like I said earlier, I am by no means an expert on cloud computing, but every cloud system that I have researched includes some form of a hypervisor. IMHO, virtualization is the differentiator between the old Grid computing and the new Cloud computing.

So, is this another shift in computing ? I think it is the start of one, and hopefully the startups and early adopters will show us if Cloud/SAAS model a viable alternative for some enterprise level projects. If it is a viable alternative, and we can save money and still provide the same level of support and service, then you will see the enterprise move toward Cloud Computing and SAAS.