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Obscured Veracity of Content Migration


In today's organization, it has become inevitable to adopt one or other Enterprise Content Management (ECM) tools to manage the wide variety of content thriving in the organization. As an ECM tool has to carter the content of the whole Organization, its importance and impact on an organization's accomplishment of its goals, can be very well understood. Having said that, I think you would agree that it does deserve an intense pondering on the various factors concerned, when it comes to adopting one. There are many factors that have been identified and need to be taken into consideration, and among them an important one is the Migration.


Migration is the transfer of content from legacy, often disparate sources to the ECM repository. Moreover when we say content migration, we are concerned with both actual content and its metadata, and it is all about making available all the required aspects of these two components on the target system. Basically it won't be wrong if I say that it is not only transfer of content and its metadata but also the relationship between them, and it is this aspect that adds to the complexity of content migration.


As a process migration can be better explained as an ETL (Extraction, Transformation, Loading) process, though is a technology used for migration, but has been so popular that experts use it more often than less to explain the process. This includes Extraction: which is basically the process of identifying and moving the data that qualifies for migration (generally from a proprietary database), Transformation: as the name suggests, process involves processing of extracted content to make it more suitable for the Target system through various data processing techniques, involving cleaning, filtering, splitting etc., Loading:  final process of transferring the content to Target system.


According to a survey by Bloor Research in 2007, 84% of the Migration projects ran over time, over budget, or at times both. In 2011, Bloor Research re-surveyed the market and results indicated- nearly 60% of the projects are delivered on-time and on-budget, provided that the projects are approached in the appropriate manner. The majorities in 60% are small organizations, and what included in the other 40% are large organizations where gargantuan content needs to be migrated.


An observation of over a period of time, for higher success rate of migration a better approach needs to be followed, specifically when dealing with enormous amount of content. A better idea would be to have an insight (to identify) of the major obstacle experienced along successful migration, as that is definitely going to help in the process, for that we have to identify them and take the necessary steps to address them economically.  


Migration is often portrayed as "no issue" task by the vendors when implementing the Content Management System (CMS) strategy. But the real world Implementation, by no way is in line with this belief of vendors. As apart from delay and budget issues, the major migrations concern the clients have been found pondering on are:-


·         Maintaining the content availability on the new platform.

·         Making sure that content doesn't get exposed during the process that is the "security" of the content.

·         Redundancy of content.

·         Clean-up of the erstwhile source is also equally important.

Also among the issues faced during the migration, technical problems have a major share of them, hence pulling down percentage of the successful migration. These include, but are not limited to:


·         Source stabilization: - This is basically related to the assessment of the current system, for the feasibility of the current system.

·         Extended or unexpected downtime.

·         Content corruption, missing content or Orphan content.

·         Application performance issue.

·         Target configuration.

·         Technical compatibility.

·         Structure clashes: When the source and target system have, completely different format for storing the content and their metadata.

As an attempt to address the concerns and avert these problems from affecting the business operations, the majority of the content migration projects typically are scheduled to occur during off-hours, primarily during weekends. The major reason being the increased efficiency of the process achieved during off hours due to lesser network issues. However in that situation, if in case there is an issue in the orphan process, it will be unhandled, adding to the complexity of migration process. As a result the process has high probability of getting delayed and if the migration project does not go in on time, it is most often several months late, costing at least twice the original budget.


When dealing with large amount of content, these issues become much more prominent with much more adverse impact on the process. Hence it is not advisable to perform this critical operation manually as it is impractical to perform a manual verification of each and every document. But yes, manual spot checks should be performed, at the very least for a batch of documents for each given type. So there is a need to change the approach to the migration process.


Apart from the above concerns, with the rise in expectations of clients and complexities of the ECMs, the need for automated migration solutions has become self-evident. So are we heading towards the automated migration? I would say not completely! But yes, there should be some automation involved in the process, especially when dealing with enormous amount of content. So, we can say it to be semi-automated one, with options like Kapow Technologies, XenosWP, JOVIAL2C translator and many more for automation and a group of experts monitoring the process.


Among the various approaches followed for migration, a typical approach begins with the selection of a new platform or an ECM product, and either in conjunction with the platform selection or done separately, selection of a System Integrator (SI) and migration expert is made, who typically manages the entire process of implementation from requirement discovery through to- launch, that on average takes 9-12 months for the leading ecommerce platforms or content management products, depending upon the volume of content in question. While SIs are expected to be very good at system implementation and integration to back-office systems, the responsibility of content migration falls to them by default, but given the pain and different skill set required to excel at this, it often is not the core competency.


An imperative part of content migration process is the content migration plan which can be assimilated as a content evaluation exercise where the current content is examined, and determined whether to migrate the content, re-write it, or archive it. This ensures the migration of valuable contents only and not the ones that are ROT - redundant, outdated, or trivial. By ensuring only quality contents get migrated, the user adoption is made. This plan provides the guide lines to both the SI and the content migration specialist, and proves to be the backbone of the migration process.


Although SIs have high degree of expertise in implementing the platforms, but it has been seen in past that their experience is best complemented by a Content Migration specialist when replatforming. The process of migrating content requires more than just automation. It requires a partner with the expertise to analyze, document and optimize the content, the migration and future state management processes.


While a large-scale ECM migration project may seem daunting at first, a good amount of planning, guided by best practices methodology is a critical success factor. Choosing a well questioned vendor meeting the expected criteria can significantly lower the risk associated with any content migration project.


Some of the key considerations that may help in choosing a vendor or tool for the automation part of semi-automated migration process are:


• Experienced migration consultants with deep technical knowledge regarding the extraction and loading of ECM, Integrated Document Archive and Retrieval System (IDARS) and Computer Output to Laser Discs (COLD) systems.

• A detailed migration methodology which has been proven.

• Configurable migration components designed to automate the migration process.

• Specialized applications designed to transform and extract information from a variety of print stream formats.

• A track record of success, speed, efficiency and reliability.



Hey Amit, Good job :) Nice blog post!

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