January 27, 2022
Organizations exist in all shapes and sizes, and these organizations equally contain all types and flavors of data and systems. Databases, enterprise content management (ECM) systems, email, and file systems are just a few examples of systems that store the vast amount of data managed within the modern enterprise.
Vendors such as Mulesoft and Informatica offer comprehensive tools and solutions to address the integration of data from and between these systems — and businesses derive huge benefits by utilizing these tools.
But data integration tools only deal with so-called structured data - or the data stored in databases and applications. According to database vendor MongoDB, only 10-20% of the information stored in organizations is structured. The 80% - 90% is found in unstructured data like documents, spreadsheets, images, and presentations.
What if the same principles and benefits that apply to structured data integration and tools could apply to content integration — or the tools that operate on unstructured data? Imagine if capabilities such as migration (known as Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) in the data world), connectivity across multiple systems (data integration), metadata management, data lakes, and enterprise search could all come together to work on data and content.
Simflofy's unique platform removes the need to imagine — providing a single platform for structured AND unstructured data management.
Where Content and Data Come Together
Many of you will be familiar with the terms content services platform (CSP) and enterprise content management (ECM). Simflofy is well known as a content services platform (CSP) (this blog details the innovative manner in which the Simflofy platform is delivering a true CSP to the marketplace) — but in reality, content services is just a subset of data management. Unstructured data management, to be precise, is a unique capability provided by Simflofy to manage both unstructured and structured data.
One prime example of where unstructured and structured data overlap within the CSP space regularly is metadata management.
Metadata is data, about data. The size of a document, user permissions on that same document, and the date the document was last edited — all of these are structured data about the unstructured data, i.e., the content of the document.
Simflofy focused purely on content migration between different ECM systems in its early days. Content migration has all the complexity of data migration (ETL) but also needs to manage things like document versions, renditions, and permissions.
Furthermore, Simflofy has always excelled at manipulating metadata and data in-flight — with the ability to perform numerous transformations while data is moving between systems. This can be as simple as changing a filename or as complex as re-rendering a TIFF image in a more modern PDF format.
From this heritage, much more capability and convergence have grown. Simflofy has an API first mentality - with everything built first in the REST-API then exposed to the GUI. As a result, Simflofy has been a data integration platform for a long time.
Data and Content Connectivity
A key requirement for data migration for unstructured and structured data is connecting to the systems that store the data. Simflofy manages these connections using an abstraction layer known as connectors and offers out-of-the-box connectivity to systems such as MS SharePoint, Box, Alfresco, and IBM FileNet for unstructured data, and Oracle, MySQL, Postgres, DB2, MS SQL Server, and MongoDB for structured databases.
For a complete list of connectors, visit simflofy.com/integrations.
Without consistent and API-driven connectivity to these information sources, integration is impossible. However, with open and unified connectivity, organizations experience many benefits.
Benefits of an Integrated Data Platform
Most organizations don’t just want to integrate data from different systems — they want to build systems, reports, or apps that use the connected data. Even those migrating metadata or content from one system to another typically want to perform transformations, cleanups, or enrichment on data as it moves between source and destination.
A platform that offers integration for data and content (structured and unstructured data) enables developers to build and connect to many information sources using consistent API calls — even when the underlying microservices may be changing. For example, instead of creating an application within an existing business system, they can build the app using the data and content-enabled API in the integrated platform or their own development environment. This approach removes any vendor or system tie-in and allows the application to access multiple content and data sources.
The abstract connector model provides the opportunity for incredibly agile development where developers focus on delivering benefits, not hard-coding connections to data sources. Simflofy fuels this agility by providing existing code samples for classic use cases in Document Management, Records Management, Search, and eDiscovery.
A fully integrated platform for structured and unstructured data management provides the perfect way to leverage existing investments in IT architecture and systems. In addition, the ability to build one application that integrates via standardized connectors to information systems offers a future-proof environment - enabling the removal of legacy systems and the inclusion of new systems without the need to change application coding.
The Future is Connected
There is a clear need for a controlled and coordinated integration between data AND content. Focusing data management capabilities on the 20% of data within the organization that is structured and easily accessible is short-sighted at best and irresponsible at worst.
But of more interest to most developers is the ability for a single data management platform to reduce the time and effort required for them to work. Individual connecting to multiple systems to bring structured and unstructured data together will lead to hundreds of hours of duplicated and ultimately wasted effort.
By delivering a single platform for data integration, migration, and federation, Simflofy provides a connected toolset to enable developers, CIOs, and business analysts to create the business environment of the future — today.
To learn more about how your organization can benefit from integrated data management, visit Simflofy.com/solutions/platform.