If anyone was wondering about the business virtues of a platform approach to content management, Brendan Coveney, Nuxeo’s General Manager for Americas, had a good deal to say about it in the final keynote speech at the company's annual conference.
Leaving aside the fact that Nuxeo describes its enterprise CMS software as a platform rather than a system and that he would be expected to say that, the argument he makes is a convincing one.
The challenge, he said, for any company is to grow productivity, and the best way of doing that is making more and better use of the content that exists across the enterprise. And a platform is the best way of doing just that.
That will be good new for any company that is wondering how to deal with its share of the content explosion, which Lawrence Hart in a previous keynote said would reach the equivalent of 35 billion Libraries of Congress by 2020.
But what is a platform, he asked, and more to the point, what is a great platform? The first thing to keep in mind, he says, is that despite the claims that many companies are providing platforms, only a few are actually doing so.
Many, he says, claim that their product built around a single repository is a platform. But that’s not enough. A true platform consists, of course, of a repository, but also provides all the elements and services to optimize a business' content; to turn that content into part of the business itself.
In ten years, content has moved from being a byproduct of business to a core element of the business itself; the better your content is managed and surfaced, the better and healthier your business will be.
And then there’s the difference between a platform, and a real “great” platform. To achieve that status he advises prospective customers to look for four different elements:
By this he says, he is not talking simply about the age of a product, but whether it is battle tested – by which he means whether it has been tried and tested in workcase scenarios.
- Comprehensive API
- Full-featured API
- Stable API – by which he means one that has the ability to change, but still provides what developers expect it to provide
It needs to demonstrate that it can be deployed where and when it is needed, and how it is needed and whether it comes with elements such as disaster recovery, on single server and whether it has high availability.
This means what standards it supports and in particular whether it supports CMIS. He points out that despite some weaknesses, it is an important standard for interoperability and that Nuxeo will continue to support in as it develops. But there are others, too, like the Dublin standard, or RESTFul.
However, standards should not mean the platform should become static and it should not prevent a company with vision from achieving that vision.
4. Open Source
Open source for an open-source company should be part of the company’s DNA, he says. It should be truly open source in the sense that everything is open, including the community, build and test environments. The roadmap should be open -- Nuxeo is opening this up soon -- and it should be open to contributions from the company.
If, for example, a company has one element that is closed, the whole platform should be described as closed rather than “open with a bit of closed," some do, he says.
While a company is made up of many disciplines, for the platform to work effectively, developers need to be accommodated. They need to be provided with
They need to be enabled and even encouraged to pursue the projects they are working on as far as is feasible in the company.
There are other things that should be encouraged too tha,t while not necessarily affecting content production, will have an overall effect on the platform. This includes standard languages, scalability, and flexibility.
There are other elements to this, all of which will become more obvious as the content boom continues, and which hope to tease out over the next few weeks.