hybrid ECM (hybrid enterprise content management)

Hybrid ECM, also called hybrid enterprise content management, is the practice of using cloud services to supplement on-premises software that manages enterprise content.

Companies often enlist hybrid ECM rather than placing all data in the cloud or all data behind the firewall because it enables them to use the flexibility of the cloud without compromising regulatory, compliance or other data privacy requirements in placing everything in a public cloud or force them to abandon costly on-premises investments.

Hybrid ECM is integrates cloud storage, ECM services and/or features with on-premises enterprise content management software for storing and managing information. Cost, mobility and new features are common drivers for hybrid ECM deployments.

  • Cloud-based ECM services and storage can help companies downsize hardware and IT expenses, because cloud servers and hardware are hosted remotely by the service provider.
  • Cloud file sharing services offer improved mobility, allowing users to display information and collaborate remotely on a wide variety of devices.
  • Cloud ECM services are also more likely to be updated on a rolling basis and offer the newest features; for example, Microsoft has made Office 365 a testing ground for new SharePoint features, many of which are only available to on-premises customers through hybrid deployments.

Cloud file sharing is one example of a feature that can drive hybrid ECM demand. The popularity of easy-to-use consumer cloud file sharing applications, such as Box and Dropbox, created Shadow IT issues for enterprises that didn't provide a user-friendly alternative for employees. This consumerization of IT has prompted traditional ECM as well as cloud file sharing vendors to offer cloud file sync and share services with ECM features, such as compliance and E-discovery compatibility- which can be integrated with on-premises and cloud ECM deployments. For example, Microsoft has promoted OneDrive for Business as its file sync and share offering that's compatible with SharePoint, but it's only available to on-premises customers through subscription to Office 365 cloud services.

Hybrid ECM can provide additional features, but it can also complicate Enterprise search configuration, depending on the level of interoperability between the on premises and cloud components. Hybrid deployments without a federated search capacity may not provide a single comprehensive display of information both on-premises and in the cloud.

This was last updated in November 2015

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