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ECM: New facets of a changing market

More than a year later, the company was still trying to retrace the steps that each proposal had been through. Most companies that have a backup solution for their corporate information feel confident that they can retrieve mission-critical information if needed. They expect that files that have been corrupted or accidentally deleted should be retrievable in their original state. However, what business managers, and sometimes IT staff, do not realize is that to get this information back in its original state, whether it’s one file or 1,000, an ECM system has to be brought offline and rolled back in its entirety to an earlier version that does not contain the error.

In doing so, additions or changes that were made within the ECM repository after the error are not retained, resulting in additional data loss. Moreover, the retrieved files do not necessarily have all their original, associated metadata. The metadata is critical not just for operational purposes but also to comply with numerous regulations that specify that metadata must be preserved and retained down to the individual record, and that it must be produced within a specific timeframe.

CYA Technologies provides a solution that restores ECM data in both a granular and complete manner without any ECM system downtime. "Restoring the metadata requires a deep understanding of an ECM system," says Wayne Crandall, CEO of CYA Technologies, "and that’s one of the reasons that IT staff don’t always anticipate the problems that can arise. In addition, they are usually overburdened and not in a good position to address the loss of small numbers of files."

The CYA Recovery software product is available for leading ECM systems such as EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet P8 and Open Text Livelink, and a SharePoint version is under development.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of CYA Recovery in protecting data in the case of the engineering project, CYA recreated the initial situation with the bids in a staging environment, and then deleted the bid documents. The company showed that both the documents and their associated metadata could all be retrieved in their original state, in less than seven hours.

"If you’ve ever had a major accidental data deletion, especially involving workflow, and contemplated trying to recover it using traditional backup/restore methods, then CYA Recovery is a no-brainer," says the IT operations manager for the firm, which is now a CYA customer.

CYA SmartRecovery performs hot (online), synchronous, incremental captures of the content and metadata in the repository, so that they can be recovered later in their original state. To restore files, an administrator uses an interface with a layout similar to that of the ECM client to locate the missing document(s) or folder(s). Once the desired renditions of the documents or folders have been located, just one mouse click initiates the restore process, recovering just the selected items directly back into the ECM repository in their original state, within minutes and without any downtime.

"One of our largest markets is the pharmaceutical industry," says Crandall. "When a drug is being developed and tested, the associated documentation grows exponentially. If a link from one piece of data to another is corrupted, or a digital signature is not retained in the document, the FDA will reject the submission."

Delays in drug submissions have a direct effect on the bottom line for pharmaceutical companies, where time to market is a key performance indicator. Data loss can also be expensive in other ways. An energy company in California uses an ECM system for its tax filings, and lost some of the forms due to corruption of customized ECM workflows. "By the time they had fixed the problem, they had incurred a $1 million fine," Crandall says.

Backup may seem like a mundane subject, but it can make a big dent in both the corporate budget and the corporate knowledgebase if it’s not done right. Considering the potential impact, business users should keep a close eye on their potential exposure in the event of data loss.

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