SoftLanding Gets Into the Content Management Business
September 16, 2015 Alex Woodie
Most IBM i professionals probably know SoftLanding Systems for the change management software that the company developed. While Turnover remains SoftLanding’s main breadwinner, the UNICOM Global property is further diversifying its offerings with the introduction of a new content management package for IBM i.
Dubbed Columbus, the new product combines elements of both content management (which is about managing information in the enterprise) as well as document management (which is about multi-channel delivery of documents).
As a document management product, Columbus enables IBM i shops to transform existing output into digital formats that can be more readily consumed via Web, mobile, and email, the company says. This enables companies to disseminate business correspondence, like invoices and reports, to customers in the manner they prefer, as opposed to just blindly sending everything out using paper.
The company says Columbus can take a range of data sources as input, including: IBM i spool files, IBM i data files, plain text, emails, Office documents, graphics files, scanned documents, and print formats like AFP, Metacode, PCL and PostScript. The software then transforms that content into “enhanced digital formats,” and delivers it to the recipient via one or more channels, such as through email, texting, hard copy print-outs, or a Web portal. Supported output formats include PDF, PDF/a, TIFF and HTML.
As a content management system, Columbus serves as a storage repository for large amounts of corporate information, measuring in the billions of documents, the company says. That could include all the documents or reports generated by a company’s ERP or CRM system, or the entire history of correspondence that a company has with a particular customer. It also provides workflow capabilities to enable employees to process and approve of documents.
Users can mix content originating from multiple systems if needed within Columbus and display it through a secure Web portal that comes with the product. It also gives users the option to encrypt content using AES-256 and enables users to set rules to ensure that the content is deleted when it’s no longer needed. The software can also maintain a complete revision history for important documents, such as contracts.
SoftLanding is offering multiple user interfaces for Columbus. This includes a Web user interface, a Windows administrator interface, and several “viewers” that allow users to search for and retrieve documents. These viewers can be integrated within a website or external application, the company says.
The software integrates with external applications via standard APIs and Web service interfaces, the company says. There are specific adapters for hooking into the Microsoft SharePoint search adaptor and into the SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management (BC-ILM) products.
Columbus uses indexes to accelerate delivery of search results. It also employs a “dynamic indexing” capability that allows users to “search through entire document histories using their own queries, and expert the results to external reporting systems,” the company says.
SoftLanding envisions Columbus being used in several business scenarios, including: electronic invoicing; document-enabling ERP; delivery of Web and mobile self-service capabilities to internal staff or external customers; and enterprise report management.
SoftLanding Operations Manager Jim Fisher says Columbus can give IBM i shops a head start on these initiatives. “Many enterprises find adapting core business applications to work with new digital channels highly complex and time consuming,” Fisher says in a press release. “Through Columbus, we now offer a simpler, more cost-effective approach that involves no changes to your IT systems or IBM i applications.”
Columbus runs on IBM i, AIX, and Linux running on Power Systems servers. For IBM i it requires IBM i 6.1 or higher.