The growing emphasis on efficiency coupled with the intensifying demand for sustainable business solutions is driving the proliferation of document management systems.
Most of the currently available platforms are strictly cloud-based, with several applications being hosted exclusively on the vendors’ servers. Multi-environment products also exist, which afford businesses the freedom to choose the mode of deployment most fitting their needs.
There is no doubt that centralized document storage is essential for enterprises that wish to lead the way in today’s fast-paced, dynamic business environment.
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Why Companies Need Enterprise Document Storage and Management Systems
Why a company or an enterprise requires an enterprise document storage and management system?
Serving as a central inventory of records available across all enterprise departments, document storage, and management systems enable transparent, streamlined, and secure information flow.
In particular, these solutions provide a structured environment that:
- Facilitates instant document search and retrieval.
- Improves cross-referencing and collaboration between distributed teams.
- Enhances information security with granular access rights and strict controls.
- Powers data-driven decision-making with insightful reporting.
- Reduces enterprise costs by eliminating hard-copy documents.
On-premises Document Storage and Management Solutions
On-premises document storage solutions are installed locally on a company’s own servers.
They require a significant upfront investment associated with the hardware and software purchase and also involve ongoing operating expenses related to the infrastructure upgrades, troubleshooting, and maintenance.
Enterprise document storage, on-premises solutions generally allow less flexibility and accessibility than cloud-based ones, as document access is restricted to the company’s devices or network.
Thus, these platforms may fail to meet the expectations of independent distributed workers who frequently work off-site from various locations.
Self-hosted systems also tend to be resource-intensive, imposing on the enterprise the sole responsibility to set up, maintain, and upgrade the infrastructure and product licenses.
That said, full responsibility for an on-premises document management solution equals full control over the system and the data it stores. In the on-premises storage model, resources remain dedicated to the company, which retains total control over the information with no third-party organizations gaining access to its information.
As a result, self-hosted document storage makes it easier for businesses to implement security controls relating to data retention and use. This means that in some cases, e.g., involving healthcare or financial institutions, the use of the company’s on-site infrastructure may be mandated by regulatory bodies, to help protect sensitive records.
Still, the responsibilities of hosting on-premises document management systems add up to higher workforce burdens and infrastructure costs.
TOP PROS: complete control over data and resources, information governance and compliance, full independence from service providers.
TOP CONS: less mobility and flexibility, higher upfront investment, significant IT expertise required.
Cloud-based Document Storage and Management Solutions
Cloud-based file storage systems allow convenient centralized document access without necessitating high maintenance costs and administrative hassle related to self-hosted file servers.
In the cloud model, all hardware and software required to deliver the service belong to a solution provider that makes these resources available in return for a subscription fee charged on a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go basis.
Depending on the supplier, the cloud-based system may be shared in a multi-tenant or single-tenant model. Such an approach provides enterprises with a more affordable and predictable cost structure.
One of the chief benefits of cloud-based document storage and management systems, particularly for distributed organizations, is real-time data accessibility from any location and device.
An employee only needs a computer or a mobile device connected to the internet to get down to work and start collaborating with colleagues. This feature proved especially relevant when the global lockdown forced an overnight shift to remote work.
Additionally, cloud-based document storage systems relieve the IT team from the maintenance burden, as they come with automatic software patches and updates from the software provider.
Finally, these solutions take advantage of embedded security policies, fault tolerance, and disaster recovery features, providing companies with enterprise-grade security and business resilience.
TOP PROS: ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to documents, low upfront costs, no heavy IT engagement in maintenance.
TOP CONS: reliance on the service provider, shared control over data.
Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Solutions
Both document management infrastructures — on-premises and cloud-based — offer unique advantages but also come with their own set of challenges. To cater to the needs of businesses with varied demands, some software providers offer both types of document storage services, self-hosted, and in the cloud.
Let’s take SharePoint document management for example. The SharePoint platform comes in two flavors, as cloud-based and on-premises software.
The SharePoint Online environment is owned and entirely maintained by Microsoft, while the user-facing application can be used by corporate teams anytime anywhere.
On the other hand, the self-hosted version of the software, SharePoint Server, requires an organization’s internal IT team to take full ownership of the deployment and maintenance.
In return, it offers extensive customization options to tailor document sharing and management capabilities according to a company’s exact demands.
For enterprises that would like to take the best of both worlds, there’s also the third option, which is hybrid implementation. It involves a mixture of on-premises and cloud storage, where some data rests securely on business-owned servers and can only be accessed through the company’s network.
At the same time, other information can sit conveniently in the cloud for more affordable storage and immediate document access.
The hybrid implementation is a perfect solution for businesses that aren’t ready to go all-in to the cloud with their sensitive data but would like to reduce infrastructure spending and IT overhead.
By integrating both options, they get ubiquitous file access while retaining complete data ownership, residency, and control.
Cloud, On-premise, Hybrid: Which One to Choose for Your Business?
When it comes to a document management platform, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The choice of the most beneficial implementation model depends on each organization’s individual goals and characteristics.
Enterprises prioritizing security and strict control over data may be more inclined to go with self-hosted solutions.
Globally-dispersed, cost-conscious organizations that appreciate agility will be leaning more toward cloud-based platforms. At the same time, all businesses may take advantage of the hybrid infrastructure.
I hope this will help you while considering an enterprise document storage and management system.
I am Bijay from Odisha, India. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies in Bangalore, India. I am Microsoft Office Servers and Services (SharePoint) MVP (5 times). I works in SharePoint 2016/2013/2010, SharePoint Online Office 365 etc. Check out My MVP Profile.. I also run popular SharePoint web site SPGuides.com
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