Deploying a proper enterprise content management (ECM) solution is, quite often, a painful exercise —mutually incompatible standards, vendor lock-in, and security are all important facets of such a deployment. Finding an affordable software stack that meets the present and future needs of your business that has sufficient interoperability with deployed hardware and software can be a challenging task. Although public cloud operators can be used, the potential for customization is low to nonexistent.
An extendable, open-source solution
This is where NemakiWare from Aegif Corporation stands out. NemakiWare is a fully open-source (GNU GPL Version 3) ECM that is Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) native — not a tacked-on protocol — as is CMIS support in Microsoft SharePoint 2013. This, combined with the use of the NoSQL CouchDB as the backend for NemakiWare, allows for a much faster, lightweight application. NemakiWare is designed for worry-free scalability, and to be extended — the exclusive use of CMIS instead of a custom API prevents vendor lock-in. In addition, the use of CMIS allows operators to migrate to other CMIS-compatible software seamlessly.
An aside: Nemaki is Japanese for sleepwear, which one would ostensibly wear whilst on a couch. According to Nicolas Raoul of Aegif, "The NemakiWare logo represents a system admin enjoying his sleep, without worrying about scalability. The underlying database (CouchDB) itself has a couch as a logo, their motto is 'relax,' and their webapp is called 'Futon,' so ours has a hammock."
Working without wires with CmisSync
In addition to NemakiShare, the web-based CMIS client included in the NemakiWare package, Aegif also offers CmisSync, a program available for Windows Vista SP2 and higher and Mac OS X, which operates like Dropbox Sync or Windows OneDrive, allowing users to sync files with NemakiWare or any other CMIS server, including Alfresco and IBM FileNet. As CmisSync retains the user accounts and permissions from your CMIS server, users can only view and edit files for which they have been granted permission. The Mac OS X client was released just last month, with a Linux client forthcoming.
CmisSync, like NemakiWare, is licensed under version 3 of the GNU GPL. According to Raoul, one of the lead designers of CmisSync at Aegif, contributions to the code have been made from programmers around the world, including Vietnam, France, and Germany. CmisSync is the only open-source file synchronization client that targets ECM. For organizations that require additional features for (or specific to) their workflow, they have the option of developing the plugins in-house, or contracting Aegif to develop the plugin for them. A community support website is also available.
Importantly, CmisSync allows corporations to avoid offloading data to public cloud providers such as Dropbox or OneDrive, which have recently come under scrutiny for security issues. Dropbox has faced fierce criticism following the appointment of Condoleezza Rice to the board of directors, and a vulnerability which left privately shared files viewable by anyone. OneDrive has been criticized for locking users out of accounts, and scanning the stored files of users.
Benefits of using a private or a hybrid cloud
The use of a private or hybrid cloud can provide a variety of benefits: companies have not just files, but other business processes to integrate with, such as messaging, scheduling, Business Intelligence, and CRM systems. Public cloud offerings do not readily integrate with on-premises hardware (if, indeed, they can integrate at all). Devices such as printers, scanners, fax machines, as well as physical security hardware such as CCTV and fire detectors, or other custom hardware can be encumbrances to public cloud adoption. Rather than isolate these mission-critical devices from the rest of your organization's network, using a private cloud would be far more efficient.
According to Raoul, competing products (he pointed to Office 365 as an example) offer poor workflows out of the box, and have limited capacity for customization. The advantage of NemakiWare and CmisSync is to increase efficiency with the ability to develop and control a customizable workflow, as well as programmable actions. In addition, maintaining a private cloud is a fixed cost. The pricing structure for public cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions is subject to the whims of the controlling company. Plus, without CMIS support, migration away from other ECM solutions is challenging, where permissions, workflows, and rules can easily be lost.
Finally, the quality of service available in a private cloud is — assuming the competence of the corporate IT staff — higher than that of a public cloud. With a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud that extends to the public provider for burst computational time, experiencing a network outage would not bring the entire company to a halt. With the increased level of public disputes regarding peering, and the generally poor quality of Internet Service Providers in the US, the reliability and speed of your network connection is one that is, at present, in doubt. For companies in which data is their business, such as a law firm, an outage would be catastrophic.
What Aegif does
Aegif cannot sustain itself on writing open-source software. Aegif offers paid support services for NemakiWare and CmisSync, as well as plugin development for CmisSync. In addition, the company offers IT consulting services in English, Japanese, and French. Aegif's headquarters is in Mori Tower, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo.
What about you?
What platform does your organization use for ECM, and are you satisfied with it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
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James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.