Field Report: York International, York, Pa. - InformationWeek

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Field Report: York International, York, Pa.

One small migration project got ugly. Now York's gearing up for two giant integration initiatives.

Content migration can be complicated, time consuming and fraught with hidden dangers. York International, the well-known air conditioning manufacturer, learned that lesson the hard way-albeit on a small scale.

Wanting to consolidate dozens of disparate content management systems and file stores, York settled on EMC Documentum as its enterprisewide content management standard in late 2002. The company has since rolled out 15 production applications, including forms-based expenditure approval and IT systems access request processes for 22,000 employees.

While it's easy enough to launch new applications on a common platform, the company learned not to take legacy content migrations lightly after a project involving one small department "blew up in our faces," says manager of Global Content Solutions Timothy Fives.

The actual migration of roughly 8,000 engineering collateral documents from a Xerox DocuShare system into Documentum only took a weekend, but the Global Content Solutions group spent months clearing up access and security problems.

"We tried to apply group and user security, but they had used a very ad hoc security model that wasn't applied consistently," Fives explains. "And the minute we moved the content, we discovered ... anonymous users crawling out of the woodwork saying they could no longer access the documents they needed." Integration wouldn't have resolved the poor security practices, but the access problems wouldn't have cropped up because the legacy system still would be in place.

York is now choosier when it comes to migration, and it plans to use EMC's Documentum ECI Services integration middleware to take on two major content challenges. One project involves "tens of thousands" of technical documents currently stored in SQL Server file systems, Hummingbird PC Docs and Xerox DocuShare repositories. These systems will remain in place for now, but the legacy content will be searchable and accessible to Documentum through the ECI Services middleware. Meanwhile, all new technical documents will be managed within Documentum as they're created.

In the second project, York plans to apply Documentum records management and retention controls over "millions" of mainstream business documents. These Word files, spreadsheets and e-mails are currently stored within a variety of file systems and servers, and York is determining exactly when and how it will apply records management policies.

"Our legal and corporate controllers need to chime in on the business processes, retention policies and goals of the project," says Fives. Plans call for business requirements to be defined by the fourth quarter and pilot projects to roll out by the second quarter of 2006.

In some cases, content integration will simply buy time, allowing York to migrate only selected content and only when it has to. "You don't get much value from migrating if all you gain is check-in, check-out and library services control," Fives says. "We now only move content when the business demands it. You start to get a return on single platform when you're managing content as part of a business process."

— Doug Henschen

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