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Case Study: Getting Marketing Content to Speak Documentum’s Language—Aprimo

October 17, 2006 by Leighton Hendrick

AprimoVirtually everyone has had the experience: you are traveling in a foreign country, and with the exception of a few basics, you don’t understand the language. Simple daily tasks- such as ordering dinner at a restaurant or asking directions to your next destination become laborious and time-consuming. If you’re lucky, you eventually communicate-or comprehend-through a series of animated gestures and half-smiles. In the worst-case scenario, you throw up your arms and return to your hotel room, feeling defeated.

In simple terms, this familiar scenario reflects the technical challenge that Aprimo-a major player in the marketing software industry-presented when they asked Blue Fish to create a seamless means of translation between the Aprimo system of content management and EMC’s Documentum system. Since 1998, Aprimo has offered innovative software solutions for corporate clients looking to access and share high volumes of marketing collateral. Digital images, advertisements, promotional copy, internal documents-all of this, and more, are centrally managed by Aprimo’s software.

Until recently, Aprimo’s products were based on Microsoft’s technology. In order to meet the needs of a larger client base, Aprimo needed to accommodate additional platforms. They turned to Blue Fish to create an integration based on Web services to enable Aprimo content and meta-data to be stored in EMC’s Documentum Content Server, a popular platform for managing electronic files. This was where the language difference came in: instead of running on the Microsoft platform, Documentum speaks the programming language of Java. As a result, Aprimo asked the Blue Fish team to create an integration tool that would allow the two systems to speak with each other, so that clients who store their content in Documentum could also become Aprimo users. “One of the reasons I selected Blue Fish was that Documentum recommended them,” explains Randy Clarke, System Integration Practice Manager at Aprimo. “But then when I met with the Blue Fish team, they struck me as having the capability of developing a one-of-a-kind integration system.”

In creating this unique integrated solution for Aprimo, the Blue Fish team developed a series of useful tools:

  • A synchronized security system that allows users access to specific digital files that electronically live in both Aprimo and Documentum. “The same rules of security can be applied to both repositories of content,” explains Bump Verde, Principal Consultant on the Blue Fish team. As a result, Aprimo is now able to offer their clients two different models of security-a robust security model and a more simplified one.
  • An ability to replicate Aprimo’s data structure and hierarchy in Documentum. For example, if a logo lives in a specific folder on the Aprimo side, it can also live automatically in the same place in Documentum.
  • A search capability that allows users to easily track down data that exists in both Documentum and Aprimo.

In a literal sense, language and cultural differences came into play during the development of these tools. A majority of the Aprimo team was working offshore in Hyderabad, India; this group was headed up by Nagurva Reddy, Associate Software Architect who is based at the Aprimo headquarters in Indianapolis. “This required a fair amount of coordination,” explains Verde. “We needed to be clear about the separation of responsibilities within the project so it could easily happen in these different places.” “The Blue Fish team always responded very fast to our concerns,” adds Reddy about the experience. “It was great working with them on a day-to-day basis.”

At the project’s conclusion, Blue Fish created several automated tests to ensure there was optimal communication between the two systems. Not surprisingly, there were no glitches between the two languages, and users can move easily between the domains. Because of these new integration tools, there is no learning curve for clients who are using both Aprimo and Documentum. And, there is no need for users to go through the frustrating missteps of learning an entirely new language.

“The Blue Fish team was very good at guiding me through the development process,” comments Clarke. “Also, they were very good at working collaboratively. If they didn’t know the answer to a question, they knew exactly who to go to for the information. In my mind, one of the strengths of Blue Fish is how they hire and retain individuals who are the cream of the crop.”