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Scrap or Enhance Your ECM?

by | May 24, 2018

Updating your Enterprise System Gently – without cracking any eggs

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Fortune 500 companies (among many others) would be running software written in the 1960’s and 70’s today. But for the same reasons that’s been going on,  that situation persists today for even much more modern software written in the late 1990’s or the 00’s. It is just too risky and expensive to replace software that’s running your business reliably (albeit missing modern features and capabilities)

Hardware Upgrades

Many requirements are the same for software (billing and invoicing, personnel records, shipping records, medical records, mortgage documentation, loan documents and so much more) but the volume of transactions or the need for faster response or greater security has increased.  The easier solutions are hardware where new processors can be engineered to duplicate the old ones but that run faster and more reliably. That has worked well over the years. Printing technology has improved but can still support the old line printer or dot matrix formats allowing the same software to create better looking output at higher speeds.  Crude teletype terminals have been upgraded to colorful, large, crisp flat panel displays with only minor modifications to the legacy software.

Software Upgrades

However such physical upgrades have limited ability to improve anything but performance.

Attractive new technology that offers great benefits in security, usability, collaboration, efficiency, better flexibility with your data, and even the ability to deal with data that was never contemplated in previous decades is available today. So can you swap the old software and take advantage of the new technologies without any concern? Keep reading…

There’s an old statistic that 40% of all new systems fail.  Sometimes it’s because the effort to educate the people using the old systems is too great and too slow.  Sometimes it’s because what people actually did with the existing systems wasn’t well known and when the new system was introduced, it didn’t do what people needed in everyday work. Sometimes the new systems, by the very fact they were new, were buggy and required a daunting and overly long test cycle. Sometimes it was because the new technology, by adding many features and capabilities, was slower in processing the workload until it was refined.

Front-End Enhancement

People get gun-shy.  Their companies, their customers and their jobs are on the line.  Is there a safer way to move to what you need?

Snowbound, IBM, and others offer alternatives where a front-end addition can significantly enhance the capabilities of the system as well as improve user experience.  Though our specialty is Enterprise Content Management these ideas can apply to BPM, Medical record systems, financial systems and more.

Many companies have invested tens of millions of dollars and 10-15 years of effort in getting their systems to do what they need and at the speed they require.  Understandably there’s great concern about adopting new systems. And yet, technology has moved on and offers many, many benefits over the current systems including, very importantly, better security. Can you safely add valuable enhancements without risking your legacy systems?

IBM Content Navigator

As an example, IBM, which has sold many of the older systems that are out there, offers IBM Content Navigator (ICN) as a somewhat new front-end for some of their older systems like Filenet, CM8 and others.  They offer many reasons for why this add-on helps the user experience including

  • Advancing technology and features
  • Integration with multiple applications from one user interface
  • APIs to aid using programmatic controls to automate processes
  • Redaction for repositories or systems that don’t already offer them
  • Collaboration capability including social media
  • Mobile data access
  • A modern user experience

In essence you keep your legacy document repositories but add a modern front end that provides powerful methods to access and manipulate your content.  This idea certainly has merit. They are not alone in offering this kind of solution.


A growing player in the ECM space, this company offers its own repository with an advanced interface but also offers access to legacy databases through CMIS for Microsoft Sharepoint, OpenText Documentum, and IBM Filenet.  File directory access is also supported. Several system integrators such as Simflofy also provide customizable interfaces between Alfresco and Filenet or others.

Keeping Your System Running While Adding Modern Document Handling

So where does Snowbound come into the picture?  Well, we let you keep using your current systems but help you modernize your processes to make them more user friendly with enhanced capabilities that make your people more efficient.

We can be integrated directly into your legacy repositories, offering modern and enhanced viewing capabilities to your current work flows, as well as benefits to ICN, Alfresco, Documentum and other ECM solutions through the use of our VirtualViewer.  Because we focus only on viewing and document conversion technology, our entire development effort goes toward making the most sophisticated document viewers and conversion tools in the world. They are far superior to what your legacy systems currently use.

We offer HTML5 technology for much easier installation and support, advanced APIs designed for OEM requirements, greater document support, more powerful annotation capabilities, powerful features like document compare and a quarterly update release cycle. 24×7 support for both Java and .NET environments opens up these viewers to a wide range of situations.   This makes our technology very popular for companies who want to create their own interfaces to custom repositories and support both environments.

Many, many benefits are derived:  

  • You minimize your risks by retaining most of your underlying systems
  • You speed up your “upgrade” by adding only what you need
  • You can selectively bring projects and users into the new technology
  • You can minimize downtime by testing in a sandbox
  • You minimize your installation and support efforts through modern HTML5 technology
  • You can minimize training effort and time by offering a similar interface to what users already know
  • You go easier on your budget
  • And you get the most advanced viewing technology in the world

Let me know what you think!