Making the Cloud the Brains Behind Your Document Management System5 Oct, 2015 By: Krista Luehring & Jason Burian
With more and more employees working remotely, employers are faced with challenges. How can their off-site employees access the organization’s data without risking security? How can remote employees work on, and share, their documents with key stakeholders without clogging email systems? Larger organizations can afford to implement sophisticated systems that include servers, network and security applications, but what about small and mid-sized organizations?
One of the best options for these businesses is the cloud. However, many organizations have concerns about implementing cloud or other collaborative technologies. AIIM’s most recent survey shows that data breaches, privacy laws and ownership of content are their top three concerns when exploring cloud options. And with recent data breaches, i.e. Anthem, HSBC Mortgage, which have made international news, it’s no wonder they are nervous.
However, there are smart and affordable ways to implement a collaborative cloud environment, yet still protect the content. Before we discuss cloud options, we need to get your organization’s data ready for the cloud.
Some best practices to follow:
- Capture as soon as possible (point-of-entry)
- Find a hardware and software solution that scans, classifies, and extracts data
- Find the right cloud service for your organization
To best utilize the cloud as part of your overall ECM system is to capture the data at point-of-entry, i.e. as soon as possible. One example of this is implementing document capture in the mailroom, where all incoming mail is scanned, metadata is tagged and extracted, and then sent to the appropriate department or recipient. Paper mail no longer needs to be sorted and routed, which could take days, and the paper is immediately removed from the process.
Another way is capturing data in the field, i.e., employees using a mobile device to capture the document, extract data and send it to a repository where it can be accessed immediately, or scanning documents in decentralized offices or departments, then storing in the cloud for easy and immediate access by other knowledge workers/end users as needed.
Either way, your organization is getting the documents digitized and input into an accessible format from the very beginning, and the data is being stored in a repository that is easily searched.
The ideal tools for point-of-entry capture include a high speed, high volume duplex scanner that can scan multiple sizes and shapes of documents in a single batch. The hardware should be complemented by software that can separate, tag metadata, sort and store in an organized system until needed. Utilizing capture software that has OCR methods to classify and extract data is crucial. How sophisticated the software needs to be depends on the business, the type of documents, and volume of paperwork being scanned. But even software with basic OCR methods can be extremely efficient in processing paperwork and getting it to the right location. This allows easy search down the road, when other knowledge workers or departments need to access the data.
Once the data is extracted and organized, it needs a place to be stored. Many organizations have on premise data centers with multiple servers and databases. It requires IT employees to manage the hardware and software, while it provides the organization with total control over the system. However, the downsides include high cost of hardware, software and salaries of IT personnel. On premise can be difficult to deploy – think about an organization with multiple locations or remote employees. And, as the data grows, more and more bandwidth and hardware is required. If an organization has multiple databases, then finding the data can be cumbersome, if not near impossible.
Why the cloud
Using the cloud as a repository is a great way for smaller and mid-sized businesses to have a scalable, affordable and accessible option. No individual desktop application is necessary and no additional hardware is required. Cloud services are much quicker to implement and can be up and running in days, instead of months. And it removes any redundant or silo’d on-site databases. Just as important is scalability. Small and mid-sized organizations know all too well the ebb and flow of business. A cloud solution can accommodate these ups and downs.
Finding the right cloud
Finding the right solution can be overwhelming as there are multiple options and can be difficult to visualize. But it’s not as complicated as it sounds - there really are just 3 types of cloud services; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
SaaS is a public option (no firewall) in which the cloud service provider owns and controls the hardware and software applications. The provider manages the maintenance and any updates to the software, and then they push it out to their customers. The benefits of SaaS includes; no need for IT administrators, developers or hardware costs, and since most are subscription services, the customer can leave at any time to go to another provider if they aren’t satisfied. The downside is that the customer has no control over when updates are made and when maintenance might take place. Customers are also limited to the application as it is, with little or no customization.
With IaaS, on premise hardware is replaced with virtual hardware, i.e. cloud hosted vms. It’s considered private, not public, because it’s technically still the customer’s server, although a virtual one, and the customer sets their own security settings. There’s no need for an on premise data center or multiple servers, which frees up valuable office space. Also, it helps in the case of a disaster/damage to the building, or power outages. No hardware exists so your data isn’t lost or damaged. You still need to employ IT administrators and developers to manage the system, but, most IaaS vendors will perform regular data backup and recovery functions.
PaaS is another private cloud option and a fairly new trend. In this case, the customer buys software on a public cloud, and the software is also the platform. Customers are able to create their own applications using the building blocks provided by the vendor. The customer has control over the product, yet still requires employment of developers.
A common misconception is that cloud services are less secure then on premise solutions. But, cloud service providers take security extremely seriously. They spend millions of dollars, just as much as many enterprise organizations do, to keep their customer’s data protected. Of all the recent data breaches, 100% were on premise servers that were hacked, not the cloud.
When you’re researching cloud service providers, keep this in mind; look for a provider with stability. An established, well managed provider will be around a long time, will have their act together and will have happy customers as a point of reference. Also, ask the provider what happens when you leave their service. How will they hand over your data to you? And look for a subscription service, which doesn’t tie you into a long contract.
Hopefully this article has helped change the way cloud services are perceived and understand how the cloud can play an integral part of an ECM system. Digitizing data and getting it into an accessible, searchable system is one of the best ways small and mid-sized businesses can improve their data management, and use the data in the most beneficial way.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Charts are available to view within this article in the OCT Digital Edition (flipbook version /click image of Oct cover) Visit: http://www.imagesourcemag.com
Authors: Krista Luehring is a Product Specialist with Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc. (FCPA), the worldwide market leader in document scanners. Krista was recently part of the team that launched FCPA’s new document capture software portfolio featuring the PaperStream brand. Jason Burian is Director of Product Management for PSI, a division of Fujitsu that focuses on next generation Capture and ECM software. A veteran of the ECM market, he has spent the majority of his career implementing and building software for document capture and workflow. For company information visit www.fujitsu.com