vamosa_logo_2008.jpgVamosa (news, site) has been around for a number of years now, but the latest version of their Content Migrator -- version 3 -- was just recently released. In this second article of our series (see part one covering Kapow Technologies here) we take a look at Vamosa Content Migrator 3.0. Come along for the ride.

A Quick Look Back

We started our look at content migration solutions with Kapow Technologies. Part of the company's Web Data Server, the Kapow Content Migration Module utilizes Robots that you configure (not code) using a Visual Development Environment.

Robots pull content -- both visible and invisible -- from the presentation layer of a website. Kapow's Migration Module allow you to test the robot on real content, telling you instantly if your extraction and transformation is successful so you can quickly make iterative refinements.

Vamosa's Growth in Content Migration

According to Nic Archer, Senior Vice President of Vamosa, Vamosa actually started out as an implementer of content management systems. The concept of a content migration solution came when they were working with their largest client.

From Content Classification

The first step into the world of content migration came through the classification of source content that lived in file stores, as documents or static web pages and other non CMS locations.

Called Source Classification, the tool performed the initial perusal of source content and surfaced the nascent structure of web content. It also identified and tagged components of content and helped automate the mapping of that content to a new structure.

This was the first version of the Content Migrator. Content Cleansing

But it's not just unstructured or unmanaged content that you want to get into a new content management system. There is also the need to move information from an existing system into a new one.

And so version 2 of the Content Migrator added what's called "Content Factories". These are connectors built for specific content management systems like Vignette and Interwoven, and typically use the CMS vendor's API to migrate the content into that CMS.

These are "pragmatic" connectors which process system required data using the vendors API, but also perform other activities such as consolidation, de-duplication and adapting to a new IA.

The connectors provide a way to get content into a new CMS without having to re-invent the wheel. And they are bi-directional so you could ensure source systems were always up to date.

Of course, it's not as simple as a one-to-one mapping and that's where content cleansing and enhancements come into play.

Vamosa has mapped out a clear path for content migration:

  1. Identification of content
  2. Source Cleansing
  3. Enhancement
  4. Deployment


Vamosa Content Migrator Process Flow

To Content Migration in the Cloud

The latest version of the Vamosa Content Migrator was just released. What's new in version 3? The biggest change is the ability to use it in the cloud. Now, that cloud can be your own or a hosted platform of your choosing. Or it can be Vamosa's SaaS version, living on Amazon EC2.

What Vamosa discovered is that organizations were finding it harder to justify technology like content migration tools, especially when they were only used for short periods of time. So the idea of offering a SaaS version made perfect sense.

With the history of Content Migrator behind, let's look at bit closer at the solution.

Content Migrator v3 in the Flesh

The Content Migrator is a Java-based solution that runs completely inside an App Server. It is now browser-based, so you don't have to installed any desktop software to use it.

ContentMigrator_Dashboard.jpg Vamosa Content Migrator (VCM) Dashboard

The new browser-based Content Migrator has a very easy to use interface. It opens with a dashboard showing all current projects and their status. From there you can look at individual projects and the "pipelines" that make up each project.

A pipeline is simple a set of tasks -- or processes -- to complete. All content is applied against these sets of processes.

Vamosa Content Migrator (VCM)  Task Pipeline

The task building process is a configuration activity, not a coding activity. Vamosa provides over 250 pre-built tasks that you can choose from to build your pipeline. The first task you need to create specifies where the content comes from. In this case you can pull your content from a website, a document repository, an RSS/Atom feed or other sources.

You can however build custom tasks:

Vamosa Content Migrator (VCM) Custom Task Builder

Content can be pulled from one or more sources and pulled together into a content repository. This repository is separate from the source content, so you don't have to worry about freezing content during the migration creation and deployment processes.

Once the content is loaded into the repository, you build tasks to do things like clean the content (including de-duplication, apply naming conventions, classification and taxonomy, perform any required updates to metadata, structure or the content itself.

In addition all links are traversed and stored with the content.

Content Deployment

Content deployment is a three step process that includes: 1. Creating a placeholder in the target system, 2. Creating an empty content container and 3. Deploying the content, including any associated documents or links.

Scheduling Deployments

The Content Migrator includes a scheduling tab that lets you create a schedule for running a migration project. These scheduled can be set as full, incremental (based on parameters) such as only a section of a website, only PDFs, what's new, etc...

Viewing Your Content Prior to Migration

There's a query tab that let's you query the content repository and view any content that currently resides in it. This allows you to look at the web content you imported by URL including full content descriptors (all metadata, links, etc). You can also view the content and make changes if you need to.

Vamosa Content Migrator (VCM) Query Capture

The Truth About Content Migration

Vamosa holds no claims about the simplicity of content migration. They acknowledge that migrations can be big and complex. As a result, their development environment provides the ability to create a more complex migration solution with the help of custom development.

This can be done through partners or an off-site Vamosa professional services team.

Content Management security is a perfect example of the complexity involved in a migration project. No two CMS deployments have the same security model. So it's often up to professional server providers to support the migration of security rules (an extract, remapping exercise).

A Few Words on Enterprise Content Governance

Content Migration is one piece of a bigger Enterprise Content Governance puzzle. And Vamosa offers a number of other products and solution to support the constant management of content.

The one additional module that caught our eye is Check and Fix. Check and Fix is a new solution that is a combination of website monitoring and problem fixing. It actually takes all of the policies and rules you create for your migration process to perform on-going analysis of your content, automatically fixing it if problems are found.

To Sum It All Up

There are a few things about Vamosa's Content Migrator we liked:

  1. The easy to use, browser-based interface.
  2. The ability to view content within the product and make changes if needed.
  3. The automatic migration and changes to links and attached documents to content.
  4. The scheduling interface.
  5. The SaaS offering.

There does seem to be more to Content Migrator than initially meets the eye. So a good in depth review is required before you invest in the product. You also need to understand that there are different Migrators for Web and Documents and that functionality such as Content Analysis and Content Cleansing is separate from the Content Migrator product itself. Be sure you know exactly what you need to get the full benefit of a clean content migration.

You can get a quick overview of the Content Migrator from a demo on the website, but it's not as detailed a walk through as we think is required.

[Editor's Note: See part one of this series: A Look at Automated Content Migration: Part 1 - Kapow Technologies.]