Moving to ECM

Companies, similar to humans, have norms and habits and Function1 has one.  Towards the last quarter of the year, the Function1 fraternity gets to be in teams of threes where each team is tasked with selecting a technology, researching it and, in an exotic company retreat during the month of January, presenting it to the other team members.  Given that we come from different schools of thought, it isn't always easy to agree on a technology among the team members (though we are only three) but then democracy prevails (sort of) and the most senior person picks a technology! In the end, our team selected Enterprise Content Management (ECM).   The ECM product stack is quite extensive and reading through the maze of documentation can be overwhelming, so our team focused on two core components of the enterprise suite:

  • Document Management  (Content Server)
  • Web content management.

These two components were formerly Stellent (a flagship Content Management System) that Oracle acquired back in 2006 and since then was gradually integrating it into the Fusion Middleware products stack.

Now, it is worth mentioning here that ECM is a suite of apps that include:

  • Document Management and it is a set of tools used to check-in content, search content, revisions, granular access control, workflow, and web publishing.  This component is usually used to transition an organization from paper documents in file cabinets, loose emails, file shares, and other legacy document management systems to a more structured electronic content system.  This component is a core functionality of the ECM product stack.
  • Web Content Management and it is a set of tools used to surface content captured using the ECM apps in dynamic websites.  It is an add-on module that goes on top of the content server. Web content management includes an HTML editor, Site Studio, that is similar to Adobe DreamWeaver and it is used to create websites.  All the web pages and images are stored in Content Server.
  • Content Portlet Suite is a tool which provides Web Services for Remote Portlets WSRP support. The Content Portlet Suite is deployed as a WSRP producer and can be consumed from Web Center Interaction.
  • Universal Records Management is a module to control the retention and disposition of sensitive content that require life cycle management and long-term preservation.
  • Imaging and Process Management is a module to enable image capture and provides OCR using Oracle Document Capture.
  • Information Rights Management is a module used to encrypt and secure sensitive content when it is not in the content server repository.

Here, we can discuss the two core components’ features but that is public information accessible here as our intent in this blog is to research as well as engage the WCI users’ community in figuring out a migration path to another Oracle product or products in its Fusion Middleware stack.  So let’s start by dissecting each WCI piece of information stored in its repository that needs to be ported:

In WCI we have:

  • Documents in Collaboration server
  • Discussion threads and Calendar items in Collaboration Server
  • Documents and crawled content in the Knowledge Directory
  • And web content items in Publisher presented as HTML, data entry and presentation templates and custom code using PT tags.

We also have Analytics and activity spaces but perhaps we can leave these lingering in obsolescence as other COTS can replace them.

Now, I think that writing one migration tool to grab these different pieces and porting them to different Fusion Middleware products is a monumental task, I believe the way to go is to develop a migration tool for each WCI data element or interrelated elements.  In this blog (and there will be subsequent blogs) I’ll start, in my view, with the easiest element that I think could be readily ported to another stack; and that is documents in Collab.  I believe the obvious two target products in the Fusion Middleware stack that can become the new homes for these documents are Content Server and WebCenter Spaces.  Collab projects correspond to Content Server folders and subfolders in the ECM realm and so does metadata.  Obviously, we can grab each Collab document with its metadata, in each folder and subfolder, and in each Collab project using the IDK.  Then, on the receiving end we would use the Content Server APIs to dynamically create folders and subfolder and then check-in each Collab document in its respective folder while creating or mapping metadata to each document.  Once the documents are ported to Content Server, we can surface them through a custom Content Server UI or perhaps through Web Center Spaces (WCP) since WCP is an integral component of the Fusion Middleware stack.

It sounds too trivial and I am sure I missed some steps in the middle, for instance security, but I think that is a high level start.  So please feel free to throw in your thoughts.  In my next blog, I’ll take a stab at writing some code trying out the above migration path; perhaps take a node in the Collab explorer tree and port it to Content Server.  So stay tuned :-)


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