New Age Collaboration and CMS

Document Management System

Content Management Appliance

Messaging & Collaboration Appliance

Messaging and Calendaring

We're living in the digital age where we have lots of modes of communication at our disposal, and lots of different ways of sharing information. For instance, we can reach others via email, chat, VoIP calls, mobile phones, besides the traditional landline phones and fax. Likewise, there are so many different formats we can use to share information with each other, like email, documents, spreadsheets, video, images, besides the traditional paper based documents. With so many facilities at our disposal, life should be very easy, right? Ironically, it's not. We still can't reach a person when we really need to. We still can't find the information when we really need it.

How many times has it happened that you're just not able to find that very important mail you'd sent to your key customer? Or you forgot to record the online chat you had with your boss and peers over an instant messenger? As a result, you don't know what tasks were assigned to you during the meeting.

If you can relate yourself to such situations, then you're a victim of information overload. You're buried under so much information that's coming from so many different sources that you've lost track of it. You need to do something fast to consume this information before it consumes you.

The answer lies in adopting content management and collaboration solutions. It's not something new, because both solutions have been around for ages. However, never before was such a strong need felt for them than now.

Today, besides tracking your documents, you also need to track all the information coming from multiple sources. The collaboration and content management world has responded by providing better solutions than ever before.

Moreover, there's an increasing tendency for them to integrate with each other. Our story this time is to explore the potential of content management and collaboration solutions. We'll look at where can each be used, how to choose the right one for your business, and we've also given some demo implementations of a few of them. In fact, we've given 21 collaboration and content management software on the DVD with this issue for you to try out. So without any further delay, let's dive into this brave new world.

What's new in collaboration and CMS?
The goal of a CMS is to provide content in an organized manner and let users quickly retrieve information from the data available within an enterprise or throughout the web. CMS solutions can also enforce workflow across the enterprise. With everything going 2.0, the concept of collaboration 2.0 has also come into picture, which is the use of Web 2.0 inside an enterprise. It has been said that Web 2.0 has changed the way people communicate with blogs, wiki, etc. A similar trend is now seen in enterprises as most CMS solutions are web based. It's very easy for them to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies. There are also solutions like active collabs, which can be easily integrated with already running custom applications, as a result empowering CMS solutions with Web 2.0 collaboration technologies. What we're seeing is a strong presence of Web 2.0 technologies in both collaboration and content management solutions.

In fact, today you'll find just about every collaboration and CMS vendor worth his name talking about integrating Web 2.0 technologies in their solutions. So besides the usual online calendars, chat, email, whiteboarding, and project management facilities, you'll also find wikis, blogs, forums, etc being integrated with collaboration packages. But, what do you do after that? Will collaboration solutions alone be able to help teams work together? Probably not, and that's why collaboration solutions are now coming with integrated workflow, document management and content management. For example, in the area of online content generation, collaboration is becoming a default component of today's CMS solutions. A CMS would ideally have some kind of a built-in collaboration module and a bit of workflow management. Essentially, both collaboration and CMS are different from each other, but integration of the two can help businesses in a big way, especially those who are into content generation and content delivery.

Types of CMS

There are a number of CMS solutions available in the market, which manage various kinds of content, be it offline or online. Given various functionalities, there are different types of CMS/ECM solutions. Following is the list of various types of CMS:
1. Portals 2. Enterprise search
3. Web content management
4. Enterprise content management
5. Document and records management
6. Rich media and digital asset management
7. Messaging and e-mail management
8. Archiving and document lifecycle management
9. Transactions and enterprise application extensions
10. Messaging and e-mail management
11. Workflow and business process management
12. Knowledge management
13. Teams and collaboration

What to Choose?
Choosing the right CMS solution for your business is not an easy task. One has to do a considerable amount of homework to find the right fit.
The primary aim of a CMS is to establish a controlled environment that allows teams with ease of content generation and collaboration. Plus, it should overcome issues like overhead, duplication of work and delays.

Outline requirements
First of all you have to justify, whether you really need a full-fledged CMS solution in place or you just need a collaboration solution. Or, you require only workflow management. See, what is causing delays in getting the new content updated? Are the processes sluggish, where are the bottlenecks? You have to study these factors and then formulate a plan. You have to clearly define the organization structure and eliminate any duplication of work.

Secondly, you also have to evaluate your current IT infrastructure and decided whether you need new hardware for the proposed CMS or your existing setup will be able to take the load.

Customize to your biz need
While there are content management solutions that are generic and therefore can be customized to the requirements of any organization, there are others that cater to specific types of organizations. A hospital for instance, would require something that can manage digital images created from the various test labs.

The insurance sector would require a document management and workflow sort of a solution, while a publishing house would require a web-based content management solution.

Fit it in your budget
CMS solutions can be broadly categorized from simple Web editors to highly complex enterprise content management systems (ECM). Depending on the capabilities their prices also vary. Plus, there is an additional cost of implementation, training and maintenance. Thus it's very important for a CIO to know the TCO of the solution.

Infrastructure requirements
Next comes, what you need additionally to support your CMS solution? For this, you have to evaluate the current resources that you have, be it hardware, software, or IT staff.

Now, you have to decide, whether you want to develop a CMS application in-house or go for a packaged solution. If you have inhouse developers, then you can get your own CMS application with tailor-made functionalities.

Alternatively, you may choose one of the commercially available ones, such as SharePoint, coremedia, documentum, morello, jahia etc. If you have semi-technical staff, then you may flirt with one of the free Open Source solutions, such as alfresco, joomla, drupal, membo, mediawiki, openCMS etc.

Pitfalls to avoid in CMS software

1. Avoid deploying a CMS that doesn't support your current business processes.
2. Don't choose a CMS that is incompatible with your current systems.
3. Don't go for a CMS that requires a complex implementation process.
4. Don't try to develop your own custom solution, if you have lack of professional support staff or a high attrition rate.
5. Evaluate costs carefully before choosing a CMS/ECM, because solutions could have hidden costs.

New age collaboration
We've discussed a little bit about collaboration in the previous sections. Here, we discuss it in detail and guide you when and how you can choose a collaboration solution for your organization. Collaboration is something that each organization needs.

Typically, in an organization, teams working on disparate processes, meet either face to face or do so over IM sessions or using teleconferencing tools.

Such meetings are used to define goals, exchange views and information with each other; assign tasks; and gather information within a set of portals, forms and documents established for collaboration.

These days none of the workgroups in an organization can collaborate amongst themselves unless they use proper collaboration solutions.

Therefore, choosing the right tool or solution depends on: the kind of job that you want to accomplish; and how fast you need to communication information.

Types of collaboration
Real-time: When your business demands instant communication, then you need a real time collaboration solution. It enables you to collaborate with team members in real-time. The tools that facilitate such kind of collaboration include: IMs, videoconferencing solutions, VoIP, whiteboards, application sharing software and SMS.

A common example is video conferencing, where teams based out of different geographical locations can come together and collaborate like they do in real-life (as it includes both a video and audio interface), and as the interaction is taking place in real time, the outcome of a meeting is instantaneous.

Asynchronous: Business proce-sses, where instant communication is not a priority, and ones that involve a profound workflow.

Here, individual teams need time to respond. Applications such as e-mail, workflow automation, forums, wiki, file-sharing, discussion boards and team rooms are some of the examples of asynchronous collaboration.

A CIO should carefully analyze each business process and devise the most suitable combination of real-time and asynchronous collaboration solutions for it.

A mix of both: This represents a combination of real-time and asynchronous collaboration tools. Such a convergence facilitates the various technologies to support the two kinds of collaboration and offers more communication options. Moreover, it allows users to use any communication medium based on the demands of the business process.

Such kind of collaboration lets users to interact naturally in the context of increasingly network-centered business activities. Such a convergence also overcomes the challenges that organizations normally face today, like integrating workflow with collaboration.

Presence and workflow: This is another trend that is getting hot these days with the convergence of all available communication mediums (such as chat, VOIP, forums and SMS). Here users have access to all other team members, no matter what medium they are connected to.

This proves very useful, especially in the context of 'always available' online presence, where professionals or key decision makers need to constantly be available to their team mates. Users get a constant update on the availability of their team mates and also the knowledge of the best possible medium through which they can be reached. Nowadays, you have tools with in-built collaboration solutions that provide you the unique double presence mgmt in addition to workflow automation.

Web 2.0 in collaboration software

Many collaboration vendors have introduced Web 2.0 technologies in their products. For instance, IBM recently released Lotus Quickr, a Web 2.0 based team collaboration solution. It lets team members publish their blogs, create content using wikis, and publish and retrieve RSS feeds using a content syndication tool. It also provides support for team workspaces, business templates and common office applications. Similarly, there is Spikesource's SuiteTwo, an Enterprise 2.0 suite that uses Web 2.0 technologies to provide collaboration in an enterprise. The latest release of Lotus Notes and Domino 8 has a number of Web 2.0 and unified communication features. It includes networking tools for enterprises with IBM Lotus Connections; rich, browser-based Web 2.0 electronic forms with IBM Lotus Forms; expanded unified communications and instant messaging in IBM Lotus Sametime 8.0; and enterprise mashup capabilities in IBM WebSphere Portal. Lotus Forms allows you to create custom Web-based client applications. You can develop your own Web-based collaboration applications with workflow that suits your needs. Web-client for Lotus Domino consists of a single HTML file and supports scripts, images, and style sheets. Applications built on this can be viewed from any Web browser. The new version of Domino also includes tools that help users move to the next level of integrated communications.

Implementing a CMS Solution

Digital content stored in documents (doc, pdf, xls) can be rendered for publishing in both offline and online media. In the process of content development the manuscript generated by the writer is moved to the edit team for value addition and then to the designer for layout.

The entire story after being laid out is sent to the writer and to the editor for final concurrence. Here we can very well observe how the content gets generated with the combination of collaboration and workflow. Alfresco is one such content management solution that fits best in this kind of scenario. It allows access to the documents through Windows as well as WebDav and showcases a number of features like smart faces, workflow, automatic metadata extraction (from MS Word files), content versioning, and an advanced content search.

Alfresco lets you define documents across a workflow process and is available for Windows and Linux platforms in the form of virtual appliance. It comes in two flavors: enterprise content management and web content management. We used the enterprise content management module on Windows platform.

Installing Alfresco
The 30-days trial version of Alfresco ECM and Alfresco Web Content Management modules can be downloaded from http://www.alfresco.com/products/ecm/enttrial/. The Windows machine required to host Alfresco should have Java2SE 5. Now install the Windows executable installer. While installing you will be asked to download the Java component. Next, you need to select the database you want to use with Alfresco. Select the default option, continue, and finish the installation.

Also, install J2SE 5 on the same machine. Then set the JAVA_HOME system parameter on the machine. For this, right click on 'My computer,' select Properties, advanced tab, and click on the 'Environment Variables.' Here you get a section called 'System Variables' under which click on 'new button.' Next you get a New System Variable Window. Set 'Variable Name' to JAVA_HOME and then set 'variable value' to c:\\program files\\Java\\jdk1.5.0_06. This is the location of your Java home directory.

Enterprise search

Once a CMS solution or portal or any line of business app has been deployed, an employee ideally should be getting the information quickly out of organized as well as unorganized data across the enterprise, but usually he ends up spending a lot of time retrieving the desired information. To solve this problem a lot of enterprise search solutions have come out. These solutions crawl through the data residing inside the enterprise and index them for easy information retrieval. These search solutions are hardware appliances as well as software based. For instance, Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2007 and Google Search Appliance are two examples of such solutions.

Starting Alfresco
On the same machine explore the c:\\Alfresco folder, and run the 'Alf_Start.bat,' from it. Then open a web browser and type http://

A sample scenario
To depict Alfresco's document management and workflow capabilities, we take the case where an author on completing the article clicks on 'Move to edit.' This workflow action moves the document to a folder (referred to as Space in Alfresco) called 'Articles.' The copy editor having rights to this Space works on the article and clicks on 'Move to publish,' which moves the edited piece to a Space called 'Ready to publish.'To achieve this workflow, we first create two groups called 'Editors' and 'Authors'. We create users corresponding to these and add them to the respective groups. Next we create the Spaces (Articles and Edited) and assign logical permissions to these for the Editor and Author groups.

The dashboard of Alfresco depicting all options to manage users, groups, and content for individual working space

Create users and groups
After logging in as admin, click on 'Administration Console' icon. Now click on Manage System Users>Create User and follow the wizard. Create users corresponding to authors and editors. Note that the default home folder (as specified in the home space name) of the editors and authors gets created while creating users corresponding to them.We set the home space name as 'Sanjay' and 'Manu' for the users in our case. In the home space, users have full access to upload, create, delete, and edit documents. Now click on Manage User Groups. On the 'Group Management' page, click on Create>Create Group. For the identifier, enter the group name (Authors and Editors in our case). Now click on the second icon to add users to the group. That is, Sanjay will be added to the Author group and Manu to the Editor group.

Create Spaces and set permissions
While logged in as admin, click on 'My Home'>Create>Create Space. Fill the fields: name (enter 'Articles'), title, and description; select an icon for the Space 'Articles' and click on 'create space.' Similarly, create a Space called 'Ready to publish.' On setting the permissions click on 'My Home.' You see the two Spaces and some existing or default Alfresco Spaces. For the Author group click on 'Articles'
Space>MoreAction>Manage Space Users>Invite. Select Groups from the dropdown, type Author, and click on Search. Select Contributor from the role list. Click on Add to list. Similarly add Editor group with the role as 'Editor.' Click on Next and for e-mail invitation select 'No.' Click on 'Finish.' Similarly set up the Editor group with the Contributor role for the 'Ready to publish' Space.

Add workflow
Click on 'Sanjay' Space>More Action>Manage Content Rules> Create Rule. From the 'Select Condition' dropdown select 'All Items.' Click on 'Add to list' and 'Next.' For 'Select Action', select 'Add simple workflow to item.' Click on 'Set Values and Add'. For 'Name to Approve,' set 'Move to edit.'

Select the radio button labeled move (or copy). Click on 'click here to select the destination' and select the Article Space. Select 'No' for reject workflow. Click on 'Ok' and then 'Next.' On the Enter Details page, select Inbound for Type. For title and description, type 'Move to edit.' Check the box labeled 'Apply rule to sub spaces.' Click Finish. Follow the same steps for the Space named 'Manu,' but substitute 'Move to edit' with 'Move to publish.'

Select the destination space as 'Ready to publish' on the 'Set action values' page. Also in 'Step 3-Enter Details', select Update for Type.

Workflow in action
Login as 'Sanjay.' Click on My Home and then on 'Add Content.' Follow the wizard to browse and upload a file. Once done, you will see the file (cms.doc in our case) on My Home page. Click on the icon labeled '>>' and select 'Move to edit.' Now login as 'Manu' and click on Company Home>Article space and you see the cms.doc. Click on the arrow icon to check out the document. On the check out page, select 'In the space select' and the Space named 'Manu.' Click on check out.

Once checked out, you can download the article and edit it. After that, right click on the cms.doc icon and update. When prompted upload the edited document. Now when you again right click on the cms.doc you will find the option of 'Move to publish,' the article moves to the Space called 'Ready to publish', ie, to its final destination. You can check out the 'Ready to publish' space by clicking on Company Home.

Instan-t Premium Collaborative Edition
This software lets employees of an enterprise communicate through video conferencing, voice chat, online presentations and allows computer sharing, instant messaging and so on. Its voice and video conferencing can be used with Active Directory for User Directory Integration. The software uses client-server architecture. At server end, it contains a Web administration interface through which you can perform all administrative tasks, create users, assign permissions and send messages. Also database of all users can be backed up in a .csv file. IM Server can be installed on Windows 2003 and 2000, and requires Internet Information Services (IIS) and Message Queuing Services (MSMQ) to be installed.

Another interesting feature is Web communication, where a user who doesn't have access to instan-t client, can leave a message for you through the Instan-t URL, and if you are online, you'll get the message instantly. It also has an e-mail signature tool through which you can add an e-mail signature to your online status for Outlook and Outlook Express. It uses Diffie-Hellman session encryption keys to provide secure communication. It also provides message archiving at both client as well as server end. At server end administrators can keep a message archive of all conversations and activities that have taken place amongst all users and later on search them based on dates as well as user ids.

How to use
Installing and configuring IM server is simple. Launch IM Server admin console from start-up menu. Inside the console you can customize various IM settings such as User registration, Server Messages, etc. Under User registration you can specify whether a user can create and use the account immediately or it needs approval from the administrator before he starts using it. You can also disable account creation at users' end and create all accounts manually from this console. You can also set permissions for the user to access voice or video chat, for sharing computers, making presentations, etc. You can also specify if message archiving should be enabled for a particular user or not.

If message archiving is enabled, you can view all conversations performed by a user in the Message Archiving option under Users menu. Here provide the username and specify the period for the conversations you want to view, and click on Search. It will show you all activities and conversations done by a user during the period of time specified by you. To view all stats related to IM activities, go to Stats option on the Web console. Here, you can see general stats like total registered and online users, common services used, user details such as age, gender, etc. Similarly you can also see monthly usage stats through graphs in 'Monthly stats' option.

On the client side, you need to manually install the client instan-t messenger. The package doesn't come with any automated client installation option. So, check the client folder of installer and you will find two files here, namely ITSetup.exe and ClientSettings.ini. Every time the client installer is executed, it checks for settings in file ClientSettings.ini. The installer reads the information from it and uses it to configure the client. If the file is not found there, the client is installed with default settings, which needs to be changed later on.

Once the client has been installed at the user's end, it sits in the system tray. Users can just login and start working with it. Using client is simple, just like any other messenger. To start a presentation with two or more users, right click on a user in your list and click on Make a presentation.

This will open a small online presentation window and send that user an invitation to join the presentation. You can also invite off-line users to a presentation, by clicking on Invite by email button. Once the invited users have accepted your invitation, they will be able to see everything you do on your screen. Similarly, you can share your computer with any number of online users through instan-t messenger.

A typical setup where you can see a single desktop being shared between two users to share files, presentations, etc

Zimbra Collaboration Suite
It is an Open Source client–server software for messaging and collaboration. ZCS provides end users a centralized communication through a web-based client from which users can access mail, shared calendar, VoIP, Address book RSS/ATOM feed etc. Zimbra also supports document sharing and collaboration with its Zimbra Documents feature, however this feature is still in beta.

Using this you can centrally create docs which can be shared with other users of Zimbra. You can also set permissions through which users can edit or only view the document. ZCS uses OpenLDAP for user authentication and Apache Tomcat as the Web application sever. For databases it uses MySQL and Postfix as its MTA. It also comes with a built-in anti-virus and anti-spam scanning for all mails. ZCS also provides for pushing email to mobile devices and mail archiving.

Through Zimbra web-client, end users can easily perform collaboration tasks such as accessing e-mail, address book, calendar and document sharing

How to deploy
Zimbra requires at least 2 GB of RAM and 10 GB of free disk space. Before installing Zimbra make sure NPTL, sudo, libidn, cURL, fetchmail, GMP, and compat-libstdc++ packages are installed on your system. Now, log in as root and go to the directory where you have downloaded ZCS. Run the 'tar xzvf zcs.tgz to unpack the files and then change location to the directory where you have unpacked files. Run the './install.sh' command to start installation.

Installation will check whether MySQL and Postfix are running, if yes, then it will ask you to disable them. Going further it will ask you to choose the services you want to install. Enter 'Y' to select all packages. Once the selected packages are installed, it will take you to Main menu, which will display all Zimbra components. Now, you need to set up a password for Zimbra's administrative account.

For this, type in '6' which will take you to Zimbra-store. Type '4' and provide the admin password. Now, type ' r ' to return to the Main menu and then press 'a' to apply these changes. In the end, installation will ask you to confirm the changes and it will reboot the server. To log into Zimbra's admin console through a Web browser, type https://<ip-address-of-machine >:7071/zimbraAdmin/.

Login as admin@localhost.localdomain and provide the password set. Here, take note that localhost.localdomain is the default e-mail domain.

To create a new e-mail domain, click on @Domains option and then on New, on the navigation pane. On the new page, provide a Domain name and keep rest of the values to default. Then, click on Finish.

To create an e-mail account, click on Accounts and then on New (on the right pane). Provide a Username for the Account and select the Domain name, we have just created, from the dropdown menu and then provide the password. When a user logs into the Zimbra web-client, he/she instantaneously gets the facility of receiving and sending emails. In the clients, you will notice Zimlets on the left navigation pane.

Zimlets are plugins which can dynamically interact with applications on the Internet or on a company's intranet. Zimbra provides plenty of Zimlets, such as Contact Collector, which adds all participants in a mail conversation to address book. Other features include Google Translator, WebEx meeting, Salesforce.com, SMs, Wikipedia, Address book, Calendar, Document sharing, etc, that can be easily used through Zimbra's web-client.

Sanjay Majumder and Swapnil Arora

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