CATEGORY: Storage, Content Management and Knowledge Management
REVIEWER: Mark Pavitt, systems manager for UnumProvident.
BACKGROUND: UnumProvident is the largest provider of group and individual disability income protection insurance in the United States and United Kingdom.
PLATFORMS: Windows 2000 Advanced Server. IIS5.0 Web server on clustered IBM Netfinity servers. Integrates with SQL 2000 database. Clients use either Windows XP or Windows NT with Internet Explorer 5.5+.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In June 2001, we implemented the Active Directory security system and were unable to integrate it with the content management solution we were using at that time to support our employee intranet. Consequently, we needed an alternate content management suite that could integrate with Active Directory. Additionally, the new solution had to be capable of operating in our multiserver environment, which supports more than 12,000 employees worldwide.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Approximately 75 employees contribute content into the Stellent system using a Web browser. Content is saved in its native format, enabling easy updates. When submitting content, users assign meta data to it, making documents easily searchable. In addition, Stellent integrates with a search product from Autonomy, which automatically indexes content, allowing users to conduct natural language searches. Once content is submitted, Stellent automatically converts it from its native format to PDF and HTML. These formats are more suitable for viewing from a browser and less demanding on a network. Stellent then automatically publishes content to a Coreport portal, which integrates with the Stellent system through portlets. Stellent also integrates with our Active Directory security system, ensuring that users only access content they are entitled to see. Additionally, we utilize Stellent's workflow function to provide further security features. Stellent customized a feature enabling users to go to a specific document on the intranet and perform functions by clicking "function buttons" at the top of a document frame. For example, users can click a button allowing them to e-mail a link to the document to another employee.
STRENGTHS: The fact that the product converts documents from their native formats to PDF and HTML formats has a number of advantages. Contributors are able to create content in their preferred application, but users only need a browser to view it. The conversion also contributes to the high performance we experience from the system. In addition, having the content meta data stored in a database has made it relatively easy to access and manipulate as needed. Another strength of the system is that it is designed to be customizable through the use of Stellent components.
WEAKNESSES: There are a number of areas in which we would improve the system -- most involving back-end operation. Replication between instances must be done through Stellent's proprietary tool, Archiver, which is somewhat unreliable. While it's convenient that Java applet administration tools can run anywhere, their capability is not extensive. Security administration using Active Directory is difficult. Finally, there are no out-of-the-box tools for analysis and reporting on content; you must rely on searches on content meta data.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We had been using FileNet to fulfill our content management requirements, but needed a new system that had a browser interface and would integrate with our enterprise-wide Active Directory rollout. Stellent Universal Content Management worked into our new security infrastructure and provides us with a scalable framework that supports thousands of intranet users and a growing number of content contributors.
DELIVERABLES: Our Stellent-powered intranet has significantly decreased our paper and printing costs, increased employee productivity as people retrieve content faster and facilitated greater, more accurate information exchange across our organization. Overall, Stellent has improved our communications company-wide, enabling more than 12,000 employees to access critical business content on our intranet anytime, anywhere, using a Web browser. Consequently, employees work in geographically dispersed areas with no information-sharing problems. This benefit is critical for a company conducting business internationally.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Stellent was very responsive and helpful during our product evaluation phase and provided good resources for our implementation. We continue to receive good support for troubleshooting production issues and version upgrades.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation covered standard setup and administration, but we needed to work with Stellent's consulting organization to implement our system.
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