Millennia Group is all about documents; document scanning, document workflow, document management systems, etc. That means we are always interested in what is next and the future of the document management industry.
So it was interesting to see AIIM.org having a conversation about Hadoop (a framework to support distributed data storage and analysis) and also hearing from one of our developers about Ethereum (a distributed computing model for digital currency and digital “smart contracts”). Both of these models definitely look to the future.
It was intentional that the word “distributed” is used to describe both models. In fact, the distribution of data is part of the Cloud movement and it has some clear advantages like lower cost and higher security. Most companies want lower cost and more secure applications. Beyond the concept of distributed data, it is more difficult to make the two models connect, but they can.
The Hadoop model uses intelligent applications to distribute the data, find the data and process the data in the most efficient method. Yahoo searches don’t happen on one big server looping through a bunch of web pages. Instead, a Yahoo search could run on any one or combination of 50,000 servers, all communicating, anywhere in the world and the result is back in seconds.
Ethereum is based on the block chain concept, probably most recognizable as the model used by Bitcoin. Essentially the block chain model is a single ledger of every transaction. The key is that the ledger is public and replicated (distributed) on every server that is part of the chain. Therefore, a user can’t fool the system because the ledgers all have to be in sync and the anomalies get kicked out.
The Ethereum model allows for the creation of digital contracts to exist within its ledger. Therefore, if you create a digital contract with another user, both users are bound by that contract and it is fully supported by the ledger. And the contracts, because they are programmable (think a collection of fields with data, not a Word file with nothing but text), can be very intelligent.
For instance, you can have a contract that requires one company to sell 10 office chairs for $500 to another company. The digital contract can include the FedEx package ID so that when the chairs are delivered and accepted by the receiving company, it triggers an auto withdraw of money from the bank account (also pre-entered into the contract). All recorded in a public, distributed and verified ledger.
It is a lot to digest and some of it is long way off from being tried and true, much less mainstream. The models could change the method of document management on both the front end and certainly on the back end. You might be able to build a document management system based on the Hadoop model that seamlessly allows you to “find” your documents in an Ethereum ledger or on some server in the Cloud. If your brain hurts, join the club. But it is fun to think about the possibilities.
If you would like to explore these ideas in more depth, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, (630) 279-0577 x122 or visit our website - www.mgdocs.com.