Water management company gains faster ROI and removes internal roadblocks.
Publiacqua S.p.A. (Publiacqua) manages the integrated water service for four provinces — Florence, Prato, Pistoia and Arezzo. These provinces are where the the main economic activities of Tuscany, Italy, are located and comprise 46 municipalities and include one-third of region’s overall regional population (approximately 1,305,000 people).
Publiacqua was using IBM FileNet P8 (also known as IBM Content Foundation) to manage internal documents, contracts and procedures of its subcontractors and vendors. The IBM system was both old and out of maintenance support. Publiacqua struggled with management, and the cost of maintenance was extremely high and rising every year. The company needed a modern platform that was flexible, easy to maintain and cost-effective.
The team made a preliminary selection of platforms based on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, and it needed a system integrator that was knowledgeable to design, develop and implement the solution. Their final choice boiled down to implementing Hyland's Alfresco platform or upgrading and renewing their maintenance contract with IBM FileNet (Content Foundation).
The first step was to issue an RFP in which the team not only looked at technical requirements, but also at planned projects, team members' skill sets, the certification for products, and references with systems integrators within the industry.
The three most important attributes used to evaluate the two vendors were:
- User acceptance: This was the most important attribute along with the experience of the systems integrator managing the implementation as the team had to make sure that the solution developed was designed with our end users in mind and would drive efficiency and productivity.
- Software interface: The solution needed to work with Publiacqua productivity software, SharePoint and/or Office 365 for example.
- Interoperability and platform interface: The team needed a solution that could easily integrate with existing software and applications.
Alfresco platform rated higher than IBM
In the previous experience with the IBM solution, when the team needed to integrate a new system or extend the functionality, it had to buy new software modules, such as connectors for the SAP ERP (ICC Connector for SAP). Hyland's Alfresco platform easily integrated into the Publiacqua landscape, and all modules and connectors were included in the original proposal.
In addition to ease of integration, the Publiacqua team also chose Alfresco platform based on economic parameters because the existing IBM solution had high maintenance costs.
Thanks to Alfresco platform, we achieved the goal to integrate all our different applications with one single DMS platform. And managing one platform is much easier from a maintenance and cost-efficiency point of view.
— Mauro Cacciafani, Architecture & Security Manager, Publiacqua S.p.A.
Publiacqua had a total of three different document management platforms, each dedicated to a particular business process:
- IBM Content Foundation was used for protocol process, quality assurance and invoicing cycles.
- Zend was used for meter reading and contractor management services.
- OWL was used for workforce management and plant documentation.
After evaluating this portfolio of products, the Publiacqua IT department agreed that it needed to consolidate to reduce costs and increase efficiency. So the team began a project with the goal of reducing systematic risks and licensing costs.
To standardize the DMS architecture, the elements necessary to achieve the expected results were:
- Ease of integration with different application platforms — for example, J2EE solutions
- Simplified migration process
- Longevity of the solution
In addition, Alfresco platform's open API would allow Publiacqua to easily connect with its current software, including SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365, meaning it wouldn't affect the productivity of end users.
Alfresco platform at the core of Publiacqua's digital transformation strategy
Throughout this project, the Publiacqua team transformed its way of thinking and approach to application modernization and infrastructure design. Before Alfresco platform, the typical approach was application-driven with legacy solutions. Now, the focus in the design phase is compliance to standards for integrated solutions.
Accelerated time to value with Alfresco platform
The kickoff meeting for the migration project was in March 2017. In the first phase, it focused on the architecture of the solution and the deployment of the machines needed, and it took about two weeks to discuss the details of the deployment and the approval of the design and an additional week for the activities. Another two more weeks, and the infrastructure (both production and test layers) was released and ready for the migration process, for a total of 5 weeks from the first meeting.
The repository migration phase was also fast because it was managed through incremental batches in order to work in the background and minimize disruptions in the production environment.
Finally, the only customizations were made to define the profiles of access to documents, using the standard features made available to Alfresco platform.
It got started quickly and had no particular issue during the migration phase. All the data was successfully migrated, which included approximately 4 million documents and photos, using standard tools provided by Alfresco platform, and importantly without any need to develop a custom integration between Alfresco platform and the Publiacqua legacy systems. The migration took two months and included all four repositories. The team knew it had to move fast to avoid the cost of renewal and the effort to perform the complex upgrade of its legacy system, IBM Content Foundation, and the team said it couldn’t have moved so quickly without Alfresco platform.
The major benefit achieved from migrating from IBM Content Foundation to Alfresco platform is that now Publiacqua has a single enterprise solution for all their applications instead of the four different document management solutions, each dedicated to a particular business process with a legacy customized implementation. This translates in to less effort and cost to maintain and a more robust infrastructure, which guarantees no single point of failure.
Once the migration was complete, the Publiacqua team instantly reduced their operational costs by 48% over a payback period of less than 24 months.
Additional benefits from modernizing their legacy solution are:
- IBM’s architecture is heavy-footprint, requires a resource-intensive infrastructure, and doesn't support open source or lightweight components
- Implementation and integration can be challenging with IBM — it has many existing integrations into other systems, but customers usually have to pay for them. The platform is built on open standards and open source, this allows customers to easily build integrations or to reuse existing integrations built by the Alfresco platform community.
- Upgrading IBM Content Foundation is expensive and can be really challenging. Upgrades for Alfresco platform are more straight-forward and require significantly less effort
As Publiacqua looks to the future, it has a cloud roadmap to expand and improve the solution.