SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter: Use Cases for an Integrated Content Management System

I had the privilege to present with John Klinke of Oracle WebCenter Product Management during a recent webinar. John and I discussed the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide for SharePoint, and instead of focusing on the feature/function of the integrations (connectors), we chose to detail the use cases that each of the integrations satisfy. It was important to each of us – not to mention our respective companies – that we took this approach as customers were asking what the differences were between the connectors. Before I summarize the use cases for the integrations, let me start with the underlying technical differences.

SharePoint Storage Options

With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft still provides the ability to store content outside the SQL Server database. This is facilitated through remote blob storage or RBS, which effectively enables BLOBS (binary large objects) to be stored within 3rd-party storage systems. Storing BLOBS outside of SQL Server was useful in SharePoint 2007 and 2010, as the BLOBS ( Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) were causing overall SQL performance issues because queries to the database had to go through many BLOBs to return data requests. However, SharePoint 2013 features shredded storage, which basically saves versions of documents in small chunks that get reassembled when users access them. For example, a simple text edit to a Word document, say a change to the document’s footer, would result in only the incremental change being saved to the database and not the entire document. You don’t need to be a database expert to understand the positive performance impacts this would have.

Anyway, using RBS still has its advantages, and the obvious one is for those customers that are looking to integrate SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content. RBS provides a proven integration method to move SharePoint content and associated metadata to WebCenter Content for access, consumption and delivery to other Oracle-based systems. However, RBS is is basically an all or nothing approach. That is, wherever a RBS provider has been enabled, at the site collection, site or library level, ALL document versions in that location will be stored remotely. The only way to limit what gets stored is by file size or type. So, for organizations that do wish to store the majority of SharePoint content remotely, or in this case within Oracle WebCenter Content, RBS is the way to go and this is the integration method that Oracle provides as of the WebCenter Content release.

Customers looking for a more selective approach to store SharePoint content items will want to consider Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector integration for WebCenter. Fishbowl’s integration does not utilize RBS, and instead SharePoint event receivers are leveraged to determine document storage. This integration approach provides more granular control over content storage, while also giving SharePoint users specific control over the content items they want to store in WebCenter. The tradeoff with this more granular, user-controlled option is that duplicate items get stored between the systems.

With the technical details of each integration out of the way, let’s now talk use cases.

Use Cases for Fishbowl’s SharePoint Integration

  • Content Publishing
    The business scenario I discussed during the webinar was that of a SharePoint user on a marketing team working on a new product launch. During the lead up to the actual launch date, the user and their colleagues have created many assets to support the launch, including a brochure, new copy for the website, a launch plan, graphics and other images, and a press release. Most of these assets have multiple versions, and the user only wants to store or publish final versions of each so that they get surfaced to the company’s website.

Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content features the ability to only store major versions of content in WebCenter. This allows users with specific knowledge of the content to publish the ability to do so, while also ensuring that only the final version of content gets stored before it can be seen internally or externally.

  • Project Lifecycle Governance
    This use case satisfies the requirement that many organizations have with their SharePoint system – deleting SharePoint libraries or whole sites at the conclusion of a project. The example I shared for this use case was that of members of a legal team working on a company acquisition. They have created and collected many documents to help with the acquisition, but once the acquisition is complete, the SharePoint library or site must be deleted to ensure the documents remain privy to the legal team and cannot be seen by anyone not authorized to do so.

For this use case, Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector could be configured to allow content storage in WebCenter to occur via a check box. The description for the check box is configurable, but for example, it could simply say “Store in WebCenter”. Such a check box allows a site arbiter on the legal team to determine the content that needs to be retained and stored in WebCenter. This could be content that needs to be retained per compliance or legal reasons, as well as content that needs to be shared with users outside the legal team such as members of the executive team.

  • Business Specific Storage Requirements
    For this use case the example I shared is an organization that has many, different requirements for the SharePoint content they wish to store in WebCenter. These requirements are driven by the various business units. For example, members of an organization’s financial team will have different retention requirements of content and will have to store the majority of the content they create per financial document retention rules. Contrast this with the Legal team example described above who do not want to store the majority of their content and want to be more selective.

The feature to leverage for this use case is the ability to override storage settings that are initially made at the SharePoint central admin level. This feature enables organizations to get their SharePoint to WebCenter integration up and running quickly, but puts the control of content storage in the hands of the business units that understand exactly the content they need to store in WebCenter for retention, distribution, and re-purposing.

Use Cases for Oracle’s SharePoint Integration

I will not try to fully detail the use cases that John did such a great job discussing during the webinar, so I will provide a summary instead. For a more detailed description, please watch the on-demand recording. John begins discussing Oracle’s use cases at about minute 43.

  • Improve Performance
    John spoke to the advantages of storing BLOBs outside of SQL server, which would help improve overall system performance. With Oracle’s connector leveraging RBS, it is very easy for organizations to centralize all SharePoint content to WebCenter and leverage the Oracle database to scale to trillions of items.
  • Improve Governance
    For this use case, John spoke to how a lot of companies using SharePoint have struggled with governance of the system. Sites and overall use quickly spirals out of control leaving IT to clean up the mess of orphaned sites and content. By centrally managing this content in WebCenter, organizations can leverage the records and retention management policies they have in place to better manage content.
  • Re-Use Content
    The point John made with this use case is that by centralizing SharePoint content in WebCenter, that content can then be re-used or surfaced to other Oracle-based systems and applications – WebCenter Portal, WebCenter Sites, E-Business Suite, etc. Companies can leverage Oracle WebCenter’s out-of-the-box integrations for this purpose. The big benefit here is getting rid of SharePoint silos, and providing users access to high-value content outside of SharePoint.

Use Case Summaries

Well, there you have it. Integrating SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter Content can be achieved via the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide. As you consider such an integration, please first consider your integration use case and ultimately what your organization is trying to achieve. Here is a table that summarizes and compares use cases for each integration:

You can access and watch the webinar recording from Fishbowl’s YouTube Channel. Enjoy, and please pass along any feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.

One thought on “SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter: Use Cases for an Integrated Content Management System

  1. When you benchmark SharePoint’s shredded storage feature you will find out that it has only little performance advantages and even has a negative impact on performance the larger the BLOBs get. Plus it increases complexity and the size of the database. Hence, the former advantages of EBS still apply to RBS. Plus, shredded storage only adds benefit to Microsoft Office documents. As such, RBS is not only great for integrating WCC with SharePoint.

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