To the Editor

Regarding "New approaches to managing reference information" (see InfoStor, December 2003, p. 1): The "reference information" issues raised in this article (e.g., searching, indexing, and long-term retention) may seem new to some people, but to anyone familiar with content management these are issues that the content management industry began to address years ago. After all, "reference information" is nothing more than content.

Content comes in two basic flavors: structured (i.e., database) and unstructured (i.e., files). In that context, content can be further subdivided according to its specialized needs (e.g., Web copy versus multimedia files vs. complex documents). The life cycle of content can be divided into four general phases: production (meaning it is unfinished), published (finished but not necessarily fixed), archived (fixed), and permanently deleted.

Storage vendors are finally (albeit slowly) incorporating core content management functionality into their products, as they should be, because that is precisely where some of it belongs.

But these vendors need to recognize they've arrived late to the content management party, and the issues are neither new nor revolutionary. The problems are well-defined, and after years of effort customers are [arguably] accustomed to the terminology.

Vendors: Don't complicate the lives of customers and salespeople by introducing yet another new term for an old concept. Instead, recognize that the convergence of storage management and content management is inevitable. Leverage the path that has been laid before you—hundreds of millions of dollars spent in end-user education. And invest your resources to bring content management and storage management together to solve customers' problems.

While you're at it, you can keep your "fixed-content data," too. Archived data will do just fine, thank you. When the U.S. National Archives changes its name to the U.S. National Fixed-Content Data, then I'll take back everything I've said.

Joseph Martins
Data Mobility Group

This article was originally published on February 01, 2004