Avalon Consulting, LLC positioned as the big-data professional for partners and customers
Avalon Consulting LLC was founded in 2003 to provide systems integration consulting to large enterprises with a focus on portal-based web applications and content management systems. Avalon initially focused on high-end platforms offered by Vignette (CMS, web portal) and Autonomy (enterprise search).
By 2009, it had dozens of Fortune 500 clients, and began investing in a NoSQL delivery capability based on the needs of its client base. In 2010, it began offering services around Hadoop, and refocused its enterprise search capabilities around both Elasticsearch and Solr. The company has now taken all these technologies and added new consulting services to its capabilities. This report focuses on the development of its NoSQL, Hadoop and SAP HANA Vora services.
THE 451 TAKE
Over the past couple of years, Avalon has worked hard to establish itself as one of the rising stars of the bigdata consultancy market. Its focus on mentoring, and its investment in its big-data Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas, are paying off in terms of customer wins and in establishing new strong, strategic partnerships with both Cloudera and SAP. To manage the next phase of its growth, it needs to put more structured sales and marketing processes in place and create software assets, building on its strength in packaged scenarios for extracting data from data lakes.
This organization is a global leader in creating specialized information resources and technologies. It challenges itself with providing the most successful ways for people to search, find, use, and share information. Through innovative, user-centered discovery technology, it offers billions of pages of global content that includes historical newspapers, dissertations, and uniquely relevant resources for researchers of any level and sophistication—including content not likely to be digitized by others.
This powerhouse of digital information wanted to develop a repository that draws on advanced search features to efficiently deliver information to its users. It also wanted to facilitate the uploading of content and effectively monitor its subscriber usage.
Avalon led development to import historical documents and records into a MarkLogic repository. Avalon later used this data to develop an entitlements-based search interface to provide a powerful search experience for this organization's customers.
Using MarkLogic and a Java integration, Avalon was able to implement modern search features like faceted navigation, browsing and auto-complete. Avalon also built an administrative tool which allows users to manage billing and invoicing to subscribers.
The Delivery & Outcome
Anxious to demo this new product at an upcoming industry conference and launch sales to academic libraries soon after, this organization was expecting a rapidly-delivered solution. Within three weeks, Avalon created a working search prototype that could be interactively reviewed by the project sponsors.
The product debuted on schedule with three modules of archival collections documenting two of the most important and widely studied topics in 20th-century American history: the Black Freedom Struggle and the Vietnam War. These modules are the first in a five-year plan to build more than 25 modules of rich and varied content that create a full spectrum of archival materials. The product will eventually house 23 million pages of digitized primary source material.
When you're a multinational corporation operating one of the largest ecommerce sites in the world, you need a content management platform, structure, and practices to deliver the right content in the right place, tailored to deliver messages to a large and diverse audience.
Our client had embarked on an ambitious multi-year site redesign but was hampered by an out-of-date model for entering and managing content, poor content organization, inefficient workflows, inadequate security, and a lack of standards and processes. Instead of being the catalyst for evolving their web presence, the corporation's web content management system implementation was adding cost and time to every new initiative.
Our client turned to Avalon to design flexible content frameworks that would support multiple web products, translated into several languages, capable of delivering personalized information to web and mobile platforms.
Working in close partnership with business and IT leadership, Avalon designed a new suite of content types that gave the business control over where and how content could be displayed and then migrated hundreds of thousands of content instances to the new structure. We rationalized and reorganized the content structure, implemented a functional security model for content authors, developed custom reports for content managers, updated publishing workflows, and defined and enhanced the content management process. Through extensive training and documentation, we ensured that the content managers could truly own and operate their content management system.
The new approach to content management delivered a high return on investment across the content lifecyle:
- During the transformation of the content to a new framework, Avalon mapped content and developed an automated migration process that cut months out of the project.
- On-going content management has become routine, allowing work to transition from a highly-specialized content manager organization to low-cost content maintenance staff.
- New initiatives have reused and extended the content frameworks with minimal need for new development, cutting deployment costs to a fraction of what they had been.
MarkLogic had a repository of assets including rich media, videos, PDF files, images, spreadsheets, and Word and Excel documents. The company wanted these assets to be more readily available for users who regularly searched for and downloaded data and documents for use in promotional materials such as sales sheets, white papers, and presentations. MarkLogic envisioned housing this content on its own platform to inherently provide a sophisticated but easy-to-use search solution for users.
MarkLogic turned to trusted partner Avalon to leverage our proprietary ContentMARK Application Framework to create a web content management system on MarkLogic's database. ContentMARK is equipped with an asset management system that allows for storage of any type of content. Assets are managed through a series of screens that allow for uploading and deleting items as well as managing meta properties, using xml schema definitions, associated with the content. Processing is applied to uploaded documents through the content processing framework. Using MarkLogic document filters, Avalon ingested and converted the assets to binary documents, extracted text content, and created a repository that is fully indexed and searchable.
Eager to share this searchable content, MarkLogic made this resource library available to current users and the public – people who are interested in the company and may also find these assets useful. MarkLogic's enhanced web content management system allows for:
- A two-step publishing process to control public facing content - Templates and containers are initially placed in draft mode that is only visible to content managers. After content is ready for public consumption, the content manager is able to publish the specified content to the site.
- Enhanced security via user and role management - ContentMARK allows for native MarkLogic accounts as well as external OAUTH2 providers like Facebook and GitHub with role-based security to grant or deny access to content and assets within the system.
Avalon continues to leverage its ContentMARK Application Framework as an out-of-the-box framework designed to facilitate powerful content management implementations on the MarkLogic platform – for MarkLogic and other clients.