During some interesting discussions this week, the team brainstormed around federations of content and how to name a federated approach where we are doing more than just search but not bringing along all the baggage that goes with a migration. This post will introduce the concept of “Federated Content Aggregation” approach to content management. Federated Content Management is a hybrid solution of Federated Search and full Migration. Ideal for organizations that wish to reduce the reliance of legacy content repositories but can’t justify the complete migration from the legacy repository.
Enterprise Search and Rolling Migration
Back in 2019, we posted thoughts on Federated Content Management – Enterprise Search with a New Moniker? At the time we posted comparisons between Enterprise Search, Federated Search and a Rolling Migration our conclusion was:
A rolling migration can be a game changer when migrating from multiple legacy systems to a new system, either on premise or in the cloud by reducing the need to move all users, content and integrations before the new system can be used and piloted. TSG has assisted multiple large clients and customers to successfully move to new systems by leveraging a rolling migration approach. Federated Search can play a role in accessing content from legacy systems but these applications will struggle with document actions like annotation or other document manipulation as well as licensing and other support requirements.
TSG approaches Federated Search as a means to a migration rather than in place of one. From our post on Federated Search versus Rolling Migration, see the differences in the table below:
|Federated Search||Federated Search with Rolling Migration|
Search Retrieves the|
Search retrieves the
|Transform the document for viewing||
|View the document||
in new repository
|View the document from new repository|
In the above case, the 2nd time the document was requested, the document would be immediately viewed from the new repository.
In the above scenario, the benefit of Federated Search is quicker viewing of the document the first time it is accessed and those savings might just be sub-second depending on how the new system is set up. Benefits of the migration approach are manipulation including annotation, combining, renaming or other document actions outside of just viewing.
During our discussions, a key point that was raised was that a migration brings along all the baggage of retiring a legacy repository. TSG has posted multiple times in regards to ECM Migrations – Why there will never be an easy button. Some of the relevant reasons that make full migrations typically harder include:
- Integrations – In order to “lift and shift” to a new system, all of the integrations needed to be moved as well. Oftentimes, the integrations were developed by resources that are no longer with the company and were poorly documented and maintained. One TSG client had over 60 integrations to their custom ECM system that had been developed over 20+ years.
- Change Management for All Users – Change management is critical for successful user adoption. Innovative clients have used focus groups and promotional campaigns to introduce the new system and celebrate the improvements to successfully avoid any issues with user acceptance and adoption.
Given integrations and the change management for all users, what if the approach was not to retire the legacy platform but only to remove users for a new system and gradually reduce the reliance on the legacy repository?
Federated Content Aggregation – A rolling approach
The need for an approach that described the scenario where the legacy system was not retired since the migration of all content, users and integrations could be lengthy and costly. In the Aggregation approach, the content would be rolled when requested but, as we have experienced with multiple clients, not all the content, users or integrations would be moved. This approach has several benefits including:
- Selective users could get access to the new system and capabilities including document manipulation.
- Change management for the new system could take place over an extended period of time.
- Selective departments and users could be removed from the legacy repository gradually overtime to reduce the support and license costs.
- Integrations would not need to be moved immediately and, depending on other factors like the legacy system cost, might not need to be moved at all.
In thinking about this post, TSG has multiple large 400 million document clients that have chosen to keep the legacy system active rather than remove integrations and all users, even after three years in production.
Federated Content Aggregation describes how clients can aggregate legacy repositories with a new repository without having to eventually migrate all users, content and integrations from the legacy repository. Clients should consider this approach either as the first step in a migration or as a longer term method of introducing new systems and digital transformation without the baggage of a full migration.