In my years of working in the content management space I’ve experienced the challenges of switching horses, sorry I mean platform vendors more than once. Terminology aside, it’s hard to quickly understand let alone master a new platform simply because how each platform has evolved over the years. The breadth and width of functionality in most ECM systems these days, let alone their complexity, is enough to take your breath away. Also, the basic DNA of each platform is fundamentally different. I’ve worked with Documentum for many years, going back to before the EMC acquisition.
I used to believe that to be conversant in the Documentum product line I had to install and configure all of their products and add-ons. My thinking: if I hadn’t installed, configured and operated the software, how could I properly architect a solution for a client. Anyone that has worked with the EMC Documentum product stack now knows there simply isn’t enough hours in the year to get that familiar with all of their products. (Just keeping up with the name changes is hard enough.)
My ah-ha moment came when I discovered that understanding the underlying philosophy, or rhythm of how Documentum was designed and evolved would provide the insight into how the various products in the stack worked together.
For Documentum that rhythm means understanding the full object model; appreciate how a product fits into that object model, understand its capabilities. Now though, I am in the process of learning IBM FileNet and believe that rhythm can be found in the FileNet Enterprise Reference Architecture (ERA) model.
Understanding how FileNet evolved into the ERA will help an architect develop conceptual solutions for clients. The IBM FileNet ERA is organized into three distinct layers (as described below). These layers represent the IBM FileNet product line from the highest functional level down through functional groups then down to the key capabilities within each functional grouping.
The first layer of the IBM FileNet ERA represents the highest level view of the IBM view of the FileNet capabilities. There are nine major functional areas comprising Layer One:
- Input, Presentation and Output Services
- ECM/BPM Capabilities
- ECM/BPM Service Bus
- Data Services
- Storage Services
- Management Services
- Security Services
- Integration Services
- Development Services
IBM FileNet ERA Layer One
It is interesting to note IBM’s visual orientation and spacing of the various capabilities. At the core are the ECM/BPM Capabilities and the ECM/BPM Service Bus. All the other areas are arranged to highlight the supporting nature of the capability or an input or output processing capabilities.
Each subsequent Layer of the ERA further expands the features of the 9 functional areas. Layer Two contains the functional groups with Layer Three the key capabilities and services. For example; the Layer One functional area ECM/BPM Capabilities contains ten functional grouping at Layer Two which includes area such as Records Management, Content Management, Document Management or Digital Asset Management. At Layer Three the functional grouping Digital Asset Management contains capabilities and services such as Multimedia, Streaming or Transcoding.
So for me, the rhythm of the IBM FileNet product stack is found within the ERA. The ERA provides a road map to the interoperability and services of the FileNet components, and provides a common reference point for all.