TSG is currently finalizing a case study on a client that has successfully moved from an legacy on-premise FileNet system to Amazon Web Services. In preparation for that piece coming out in the next two weeks, we thought we would write some of our thoughts on why so many clients, after years of delaying migration efforts, are finally moving off of FileNet to Amazon Web Services.
FileNet Migration to AWS – Reason #1 – Amazon S3
As many FileNet systems include large amounts of archived documents, the better capabilities and reduced storage costs of S3 and particularly Glacier have made moving from older and expensive SAN alternatives, particularly when those SAN alternatives from IBM or EMC are almost full or overused. We see clients leveraging S3 in many ways including:
- Ingesting client content – Rather than worry about firewall or other security issues, many customers are just having their external users upload directly to S3 and then either ingesting the content or leaving the content in place and linking it to internal systems. This is particularly relevant for large files like video where S3 can provide upload and viewing streaming.
- Linked rather than ingested content – As we discussed last year, the intelligent object store has tremendous potential to disrupt traditional ECM file management. We see more ECM systems managing links to content in object stores rather than the content file itself.
- Distribution of Content – Additional bandwidth also lets S3 distribute content better than on-premise systems, particularly with access from around the world utilizing Amazon CloudFront and multi-region S3 bucket replication.
See our related post as we worked with one client to design how they could move current FileNet content to S3 while continuing to link the content to FileNet. We also posted on how we could move Deaja Annotations to AWS S3.
FileNet Migration to AWS – Reason #2 – IBM
FileNet customers have struggled with an old and outdated system that can no longer meet the needs of modern content services platforms and infrastructures and a corporate parent of IBM that doesn’t seem interested in making it better. Most FileNet systems were implemented longer than 10 years ago and are difficult to support from a resource perspective and often impossible to enhance for new capabilities. Saddled with an uninterested corporate parent of IBM that would like to sell the software off and focus on efforts BI/Analytic technologies like Watson and their own cloud service, minimal effort has been put into evolving FileNet or take advantage of new capabilities from new players in both content services and evolving cloud infrastructures.
Innovative companies are recognizing the need to move to modern approaches with both the content services vendor as well as taking advantage of infrastructure savings and deployments in the cloud. Two years ago we surmised that IBM might sell off FileNet but, at that time we thought “not yet”. While the post got lots of activity from the IBM community, we haven’t really seen anything change for the reasons IBM would keep FileNet. Additional reasons that could be viewed with an eye to a sale include:
- IBM purchased Red Hat for 34 billion in 2018
- IBM’s somewhat sale of CMOD in 2016 to Unicom establishing a method for selling of content services plays
- From our ex-IBM sources, our understanding that the majority of resources that formerly supported FileNet for IBM have all left or been cut out of the company
- IBM continued relationship with FileNet alternative Box should also be a concern as we have been surmising for a while that IBM might buy Box
When looked at in summary, it is hard to say that IBM is investing in FileNet and most would think an exit is coming.
FileNet Migration to AWS – Reason #3 – Cloud AWS versus IBM
Over the last 10 years, IBM has struggled to compete with other companies in the cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) space. Leaders in this space, Amazon and Microsoft, have had such a large head start and traction in the industry that it’s hard to see IBM ever catching up. Gartner’s
2018 IaaS Magic Quadrant:
Looking at the quadrant above, IBM and Amazon AWS represent the extremes with Amazon leading the way and IBM dead last. The full report can be obtained here, but here are some key quotes from the report regarding Amazon:
AWS has been the dominant market leader and an IT thought leader for more than 10 years, not only in IaaS, but also in integrated IaaS+PaaS, with an end-of-2017 revenue run rate of more than $20 billion. It continues to aggressively expand into new IT markets via new services as well as acquisitions, adding to an already rich portfolio of services. It also continues to enhance existing services with new capabilities, with a particular emphasis on management and integration.
AWS is the most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the strongest track record of customer success and the most useful partner ecosystem. Thus, it is the provider not only chosen by customers that value innovation and are implementing digital business projects, but also preferred by customers that are migrating traditional data centers to cloud IaaS.
Looking at the report, Gartner notes that IBM’s IaaS offering leverages IBM’s brand and long term relationship with existing mainframe users.
IBM is focused on helping customers with significant IT legacies, especially mainframe customers, gradually begin to take advantage of cloud services. IBM intends its service businesses to assist these customers through the cloud transformation journey.
IBM has a strong brand and existing customer relationships across the globe, and can offer support in local languages, local contracts and billing in local currency. IBM’s base of strategic outsourcing customers help drive cloud-enabled data center outsourcing business into SoftLayer data centers. Its developer ecosystem may help to drive adoption of IBM Cloud infrastructure.
While this may be appealing to customers looking to dip their toe into the cloud IaaS world, we would argue that the strengths of AWS and Azure far outweigh the noted benefits of IBM’s offering. Regarding cautions for IBM, Gartner notes:
The current offering is SoftLayer infrastructure, incorporating some of the work that was necessary to prepare for the rollout of the new NGI compute platform. During 2017, SoftLayer customers experienced several significant outages, some of which were related to upgrades, as well as 2018 downtime related to Spectre/Meltdown patching. IBM is working on improving its ability to conduct nondisruptive maintenance. SoftLayer infrastructure remains SMB-centric and hosting-oriented, and is missing many cloud IaaS capabilities required by midmarket and enterprise customers.
The IBM Cloud experience remains disjointed, although the integration continues to advance.
FileNet Migration to AWS – Reason #4 – People Issues
Many organizations are realizing that their on premise FileNet system not only no longer meets their needs but staying on FileNet might be a more risky option considering the difficulties in retaining or hiring/training FileNet resources. In a robust employment environment, organizations are struggling with attracting talent to even support let alone enhance legacy systems like FileNet. Talent is increasingly leaving or declining the option to work on FileNet instead choosing options to work on modern platforms and infrastructure like Amazon Web Services. Organizations are realizing that building Amazon Web Services skills and moving from FileNet are both corporate initiatives that are demanding their attention if they want to win the talent and innovation wars.
FileNet Migration to AWS – Reason #5 – Better Alternatives
Lastly, there are just better alternatives from companies like Alfresco that are committed to their platform and growing their client base. As opposed to IBM that has many distractions, (Watson, IBM Cloud), companies like Alfresco are solely focused on ECM and partnering with AWS or Azure, the leaders in cloud platforms. We are also highlighting success of customers leveraging modern, big-data approaches with Hadoop or Amazon DynamoDB.