Subscription Notifier Version 4.0 Enables WebCenter Users to Create Custom Content Email Notifications

Fishbowl Solutions’ Subscription Notifier has been used by many of our customers for years to manage business content stored in Oracle WebCenter Content. Subscription Notifier automatically sends email notifications based on scheduled queries. Fishbowl released version 4.0 of the product last week, and it includes several significant updates.

Now, users of Subscription Notifier can:

  • Attach native or web-viewable files to notification emails
  • Send individual notification emails for each content item
  • Configure hourly notification schedules
  • Run subscription side effects without sending emails

In addition to the latest updates, the product also offers a host of other features that enable WebCenter users to keep track of their high-value content.

You begin by naming the subscription and specifying whether emails should be sent for items matching the query. The scheduler lets you specify exactly when you want email notifications to go out (note the hourly option, new with version 4.0).

 

SubNoti general settings

The email settings specify who you want to send emails to and how they should appear to recipients. The new “Attach Content” feature gives you the option of sending web-viewable or native files, which provides a way for recipients who don’t use Oracle WebCenter to still see important files. Using the query builder is very simple and determines what content items are included in the subscription. Advanced users also have the option to write more complex queries using SQL.

SubNoti email

The Current Subscription Notifications page gives a summary of all subscriptions. In Version 4.0, simple changes such as enabling, disabling, or deleting subscriptions can be done here.

SubNoti current subscription notifications

Subscription Notifier is a very useful tool for any organization that needs to keep tabs on a large amount of business content. It is part of Fishbowl’s Administration Suite, which also includes Advanced User Security Mapping, Workflow Solution Set, and Enterprise BatchLoader. This set of products works together to simplify the most common administrative tasks in Oracle WebCenter Content.

To learn more about Subscription Notifier, visit Fishbowl’s website or read the press release announcing Version 4.0.

The How and Why of Integrating SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter in 13 Minutes

Integrating Microsoft SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content is more of a question of why than how. Integrations between the systems have existed for 6+ years now, and each of those have had their own set of integration points and technologies to make the integration work. However, companies need to first understand and agree why they want to integrate the two systems. This starts with identifying the need or business problem that continues to persist without an integration.

Fishbowl Solutions has had an integration for the systems for three years. In that time, we have talked to hundreds of customers regarding their needs and business problems and the disconnect between SharePoint content and getting that content into Oracle WebCenter. Here are the most common needs/business problems we have heard:

  • Lack of Governance over SharePoint use and what happens to orphaned sites and content
  • Difficulty surfacing high-value content created in SharePoint to Oracle-based websites, portals and business applications
  • Inability to selectively determine the SharePoint content items to store in WebCenter – based on version, site location, or business unit requirements

If your company has identified any of the problems above, then it has effectively answered the why question. However, companies should also take a look at their overall information governance strategy and how SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter are a part of that strategy. For organizations that have answered the why, but also have determined that Oracle WebCenter Content is THE repository for enterprise, mission-critical information,  then the how questions can be asked and answered as well.

This 13 minute overview presentation and demo addresses both questions and may be a good place to start in helping you and your organization define its information governance strategy:

For your convenience, here are the time slots for the use case demos of Fishbowl’s connector:

  • Content Publishing – 3:16 to 5:45
  • Project Lifecycle Governance – 5:46 to 7:58
  • Business Specific Storage Requirements – 7:59 to 10:45

Happy Holidays!

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.

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 11.1.1.8 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.

How to Assign a Group of People to a Disposition Action using Oracle WebCenter

The following blog post comes from Fishbowl Senior Software Consultant Alan Mackenthun. Alan is Fishbowl’s resident records management expert and has been architecting such systems for over nine years. In working with a WebCenter customer, Alan was able to propose a solution that will enable the customer to configure WebCenter so that a group of users can be dynamically assigned to review dispositions. This isn’t a well-documented feature so we wanted to share it with the rest of the WebCenter community.

At its core records management is the management of the destruction of content when it’s no longer needed.  Usually, business processes dictate that someone review the content and approve destruction before the content is permanently deleted. Out of the box, you can either assign a specific user as a reviewer on a retention step or you could allow the default system reviewer alias to review dispositions, but there was no way to assign a group of users or to dynamically assign users.

Assigning a specific user may work in smaller organizations but even then, if a specific user is assigned and then they go on vacation or leave the company, all related disposition rules would have to be found and updated.  It was very difficult to make this work in a larger organization where document owners could be spread among separate business units or departments.

With the enhancement documented in the TKB referenced below, you can easily reference an alias in disposition rules.  To do so simply enter:

alias:<myAlias>

as the reviewer where “<my alias>” is the name of the alias you’d like to reference.  The real benefit here is that if you have Departmental Record Coordinators (DRCs) who review content in certain categories scheduled for destruction (disposition), you can assign the alias rather than named users.  Then if the DRC changes, the client only needs to update the alias, rather than all categories where that DRC was referenced.

Additionally, leveraging the ability to reference a script function gives you much more power.  Some categories of content, such as correspondence or memos, span all business units and departments.  On the other hand, there isn’t one person or group in an organization who should be approving the destruction of this content.  Instead, this feature allows you to reference a script function that can take the value of a business unit and/or department metadata field and map the value of this organizational unit to a user or alias who would be assigned as the reviewer. To do so simply enter:

script:<myScript>

as the reviewer where “<myscript>” is the name of the custom IdocScript function you’d like to reference (of course we at Fishbowl would be happy to help implement such a function if needed).

Oracle Support Document 1470906.1 (How to Request Approval Notification for a Group of People for a Disposition Action) can be found at: https://support.oracle.com/epmos/faces/DocumentDisplay?id=1470906.1