ConXAudit: A Powerful Way to Deal with ECM Audit Trail ‘Clog’

By Paul Edwards, Co-Founder & Product Manager, SynApps Solutions UK

It’s a great pleasure for me to talk to you, as this is the first blog I’ve written for the SynApps site.

In case you don’t recognise the name, I am one of the six original founders of what recently became an 11 year old company! As I have done from the start, I concentrate on the technical side of things, even from time to time writing some code.

Which is what I want to talk to you about today: some code that we have helped produce, based on talking to customers. I think it’s a system that is going to be of interest and relevance to a lot of people, certainly anyone who’s running the kind of big ECM platforms we work with, EMC Documentum or Alfresco.

The system that’s emerged from these conversations is one that addresses a big issue that many ECM users have struggled with for some time, but never had a way of dealing with; audit trail clog – which is why we have called the product ConXAudit.

Let me explain a bit more about what I mean by ‘audit trail clog.’ Most modern ECM suites of any reputation come with a built in audit trail feature; in practical terms, this is a facility for capturing who has done what on the system at any one time. You will typically want to record who has accessed a document, who checked it out, which team made comments (or didn’t), be sure a certain individual really did read that health and safety update for our compliance records and so on.

So, useful. Which is why most customers turn it on. But the trail builds and builds, as more use is made of the system. In tech terms, you have a database that is growing and growing – until it has, if you are an enterprise user of an ECM platform, millions and millions of rows in it.

That isn’t an exaggeration. One of the first customers of ConXAudit is a major transport entity which has been using Documentum for a few years (and finding it a mission-critical, highly useful system). We’ve been in to help them manage their audit trail its audit log is 65 million rows.

A database that large presents you with two problems. One, it’s inherently difficult to navigate and intelligently interrogate – which takes away the point of having an audit trail, honestly. And two, it acts as a major brake on the overall performance of the main ECM; it’s an invisible anchor on the system, degrading its capacity to do the work you bought it for.

Let your ECM do the work it’s supposed to!

So we have launched ConXAudit to help deal with those two specific issues – the lack of functionality a big, unwieldy audit log gives you and the invisible drag issue. What ConXAudit does is export all of the data into its own index. That has two immediate effects: one, it makes it a lot easier to work with and query; two, it lifts out that big bit of metal holding down the engine of the big ECM, letting you get on with the job at hand. And, of course, it also continues to do what you needed it for in the first place – auditing!

We’ve also worked hard on a key feature of the product – its highly graphical, easy-to-use interface. That’s a front end that means all that exported audit data is made accessible to you and your team in a highly intuitive way, so you have mouse-click driven ways of checking all your audit knowledge base via a range of powerful statistical analysis and graphing tools.

That’s a much easier way of managing and working with this asset than building SQL queries and offers you the best use of that data for checking or report building. In fact, customers are telling us that the graphical analytics capability is one of the major attractions of the product because of the wide range of data presentation formats that the app offers, from pie charts on.

To sum up, I really think ConXAudit is going to be a lot of use to ECM users out there who want to get rid of that audit trail clog issue.

Find out more about ConXAudit here, and contact the SynApps ConX team today to start streamlining your ECM audit trail.