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3/19/2007
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Put to the Test: Xythos Enterprise Document Manager 6.0

Xythos offers a low-cost-yet-scalable approach to document and records management that is refreshing, but it lacks the breadth and depth of the leading enterprise content management suites.

PROS
•Provides simple, effective document management
• Affordable and easily deployed
• Good records management capabilities
CONS
• Lacks imaging, Web content and other functionality available in major ECM suites
• Limited workflow capabilities
• Lacks compound-document management support

As a provider of enterprise content management (ECM) functionality, Xythos clearly stands apart. For starters, the company focuses on "basic content services" and does not claim to compete against the likes of IBM, EMC or Open Text in terms of functionality and breadth. Secondly, Xythos offers an unashamedly conventional approach to document management based on Web-based access to file folders.

Xythos has provided Web-based file management and basic document management software since 1999, and its original WebFile Server product remains at the core of both the Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite (EDMS) and the WebFile Development Suite. EDMS 6.0, the product reviewed here, offers a highly scalable, yet low-cost alternative for document and records management, but it's not ECM and it's no longer the only low-cost alternative.

Content Management With a Difference

From a technical and architectural perspective, EDMS 6.0 runs on the principal of managing metadata in a database, with the actual content stored in file servers. This is not new or different, but the focus on partitioning content into small "document stores" and managing a large number of these stores with load balancers and Web servers is a departure from the ECM mold. In short, Xythos provides a Web-based version of traditional document/file management. Systems are easy to scale and relatively inexpensive to maintain.

A second key feature of Xythos' technical architecture is its focus on single file instancing. In practical terms, this means that only one copy of a file is stored on the system, no matter how many times or places it's referenced. This can deliver measurable benefits in terms of reduced storage and duplicate content.

EDMS 6.0 lets you structure complex filing systems for documents. In comparison with bigger, broader ECM suites, it's a limited product, but what it does, it does well. Of particular note is the records management facility, which does pretty much everything a major system would do for records management - in some cases a little more. Take, for example, the extensive reporting and auditing capabilities, and the API supporting JSR 170, the Java standard for content repository integration.

Workflow capabilities are pretty basic in EDMS 6.0, adequate for most review-and-publish routing, but of limited value in an environment that requires anything more complex. It's routing capability, hardly qualifying as workflow and well short of anything that could be described as business process management (BPM). In many usage scenarios routing is perfectly adequate for most users, so know your needs before you dismiss or choose this low-cost alternative.

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