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Alfresco Blog

10 Critical Considerations for Cloud-Based ECM

Date: November 15, 2021
Author: Sean Baird
Category:Digital Transformation

Migrating enterprise content management to the cloud comes with impressive business benefits – operating costs go down, capital investment is dramatically reduced, processes speed up and governance becomes a whole lot easier. These are important results for a business to go after, but – and this might surprise you – we advise caution before rushing headlong into a project.


Instead, we advocate a more considered approach. It’s something you can examine in detail in our whitepaper, but if you want to get right to the point, here’s a five-minute read on what we believe are the critical considerations for organizations to understand and plan for prior to embarking on a cloud-based ECM migration. 


1. Content – the where, what and why

Even if you’re not currently planning a migration, getting control of the information throughout your enterprise is a valuable exercise to undertake. For the sake of security, good governance and fiscal responsibility, we advise clearly documenting: 

  • Where your content is held: Are you managing your content in a single repository? Do you manage information within your business applications? How do your employees know where to search for information?
  • What type and size of content you’re holding: Are you storing scanned images or Office and PDF documents? Does your content include rich media like photos, audio and video files? Any other proprietary formats, including graphics or CAD file formats?
  • Why you’re holding it: Is it to facilitate business decisions or processes (are your employees able to find/access information when needed, and is it available within relevant business applications?), provide accessibility (do your employees know where to look and how to find documents?), or to ensure proper governance (do you apply retention or records protections?)?


The beauty of this exercise is you could discover there is content you no longer need, uncover content that should be more accessible or in a different location, and identify costs that you might be able to avoid.


2. Get smart on storage

Cloud storage costs vary considerably based on content security and compliance requirements and the frequency with which you will access it. Once you have determined your content characteristics and requirements, you can establish which storage makes the most sense – and you don’t have to pick just one.


It’s likely that you’ll have content that needs to be kept, but can remain dormant, as well as content that needs to be highly available. Understanding your overall storage requirements up front gives you the keys to create an intelligent, multi-tiered storage architecture. 


3. Determine your database

In most cases, database migration requires an export from an on-premises environment and a subsequent import into the new environment, which may be cloud-based, on-premises or a hybrid configuration. Before migrating, develop a plan which starts with understanding:

  • Database type and vendor
  • Repository size
  • Requirements for various content types
    • Cloud or on-premises
    • Security and regulatory requirements
  • Export and import timings
    • A roll back plan
    • Cut over and delta


4. Stringent security

Ensuring that your most sensitive systems and information are well-protected is a baseline for any cloud-based business solution. Alongside deciding who can access documents, you will need to determine who can access the cloud environment, applications, ports and more. As a minimum, you should define:

  • Security groups:
    • Who they are and what access is needed
    • Who can SSH into the machine
    • Who can gain access using HTTP and HTTPS 
    • Which inbound and outbound ports are needed


5. Get clever with content configuration

When planning the content configurations needed to import your existing content into a new cloud environment, we recommend understanding and accounting the following requirements:

  • Content model, including metadata requirements
  • Data preservation criteria, including creation and modification date 
  • Organizational folder structure
  • Security, including specific requirements for folder, sub-folders and content types
  • Versions, including major and minor version definitions
  • Renditions, including automatic generation requirements
  • Annotations, including whether users will annotate within creation tools or within the content management solution
  • Audit trail requirements


6. Factor in full-text search

How your company uses full-text search must feature in your migration plan, and cloud-native content services platforms often include enterprise search functionality. If your organization has a lot of text documents or if you wish to provide federated search across multiple systems or repositories, you need to factor in the time required to re-index them post-migration. 


7. Scan your document capture options

If digitizing hardcopy documents is important to you – either to provide fast access to scanned images or to reduce the cost and risk of physical document storage – this is the perfect opportunity to identify a capture solution. When reviewing which solution will best meet your needs in your new cloud environment, there are many options available. This includes using existing software, outsourcing the task to a service bureau or implementing a cloud-based capture solution. 


8. Be careful with custom user interfaces…  

Custom user interfaces are critical to user adoption so before you do anything, you need to decide:

  • Whether you will deliver the interfaces from on-premises servers or via cloud 
  • If the migration of these interfaces can be phased by application or depart­ment


9. … And custom components, too

To unlock the full power of your new cloud-based ECM system, take advantage of extensions and customizations that create connections to other enterprise systems. Including them in both the migration and the post-migration test plan will give you the greatest chance of go-live success. 


10. Check your architecture 

Planning a cloud migration is not just about visualizing outcomes – it’s about being clear on the architecture and infrastructure too. We recommend reviewing and capturing at least 30 days of historical performance data of your current system including:

  • CPU utilization 
  • Network 
  • Disk I/O
  • Throughput


This provides clear performance measures for your new cloud environment. On top of this, make sure you consider the following non-function­al requirements:

  • Failover
  • Redundancy
  • Automatic scaling
  • Which other cloud technologies could enhance your application


There you have it, a five-minute read on why it’s important to wait before you migrate. 

If you’d like to take a little more time considering how migrating to a cloud-native ECM solution could help you, check out our Migration Service, where you’ll discover how our simple service offerings and efficient tooling has created a repeatable and proven migration process.

Alfresco has helped organizations around the world migrate to cloud-based ECM – sometimes in as little as six weeks. If you’re currently using IBM FileNet and you can’t wait to migrate, you may find the following blog posts especially useful.


Why it makes sense to migrate from IBM FileNet to Alfresco


How to retire FileNet quickly and avoid those large support payments



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