Captiva as a service (CaaS): intelligent data capture on the cloud


Digitally transform while reducing costs is a common challenge for many organizations. On the one hand, the number one business priority is undeniably to maximize the value of information, with all the sources, formats and increasing volumes the term encompasses. The role of technologies used for capturing, managing and sharing information becomes equally undeniable. On the other hand, with IT budgets usually scaling up/down in proportion to organization size, small and medium enterprises tend to have smaller chunks available for new technology growth and investment. What if any organization, regardless of its size, could gain quick and easy access to critical business data while improving productivity?

Enterprise-level data capture technologies such as Captiva are now within reach for all businesses, large or small. Captiva as a Service (CaaS) is a cost-effective intelligent data capture platform where your managed services partner runs and manages your Captiva software in the cloud. With a cloud capture solution you simplify your software management, with the associated time and cost savings. But you also generate operational efficiencies across all the teams and departments who were previously manually classifying information, typing data into your systems or archiving documents.

Check how we made Captiva as a Service (CaaS) a reality by employing different applications and solutions.

Azure cloud hosting environment

We used Azure to deploy an environment that is accessible by customers as set within the security settings of Azure. This cloud solution provided by Microsoft enables us to easily scale to our needs of consumption. When more customers want to connect to CaaS or when customers are increasing the load, they put on the system Azure enables us to easily deploy new machines to lessen the load.

If you want to truly maximize the value of your cloud investment, you can opt to combine a robust cloud infrastructure (e.g. on Azure) with a hands-on provider. It will add an extra speed boost to your projects and optimize resources, while offloading all the hardware infrastructure, monitoring, scaling and other concerns to your managed services partner.

Agile, continuous delivery development methodology

The arrival of applications like Jenkins and Azure DevOps also solve another common problem in IT, the ‘drift’ in the system, with many (error-prone) manual actions executed on multiple environments by different people. Thanks to these applications we can build continuous delivery pipelines that minimize the risks of manual work and create a more robust system for the users. Continuous delivery pipelines also allow for easier and more frequent deployments to the system. This enables us to ‘fail fast’, an Agile term that is often misunderstood. What it means is with shorter feedback loops, you’re able to develop faster and address customer needs with more accuracy.

Web-based capture services

To enable CaaS, we used Captiva 7.7, which includes the web components Capture Web Client (CWC) and a REST service which can be connected to using the API hosted in Internet Information Services (IIS) from Microsoft Server.

The CWC connects to the flows created in Captiva Designer and deployed to the server, meaning if you were already running Captiva on-premise you can keep using the existing flows on the cloud with minor tweaks. The CWC is a powerful client that enables immediate data recognition and indexing based on the document type that was found. This means we can combine the input step (e.g. document scanning) with the indexing step (e.g. automated document recognition and classification), creating a simplified document input flow. For example, one of our CaaS implementations included an Invoice Recognition flow. This data capture flow recognizes the document format (an invoice) as well as the values on the form, supplying a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format of the returned values. The JSON file can be used to feed the results into a payment system triggering a new payment.

Loosely coupled Capture

The REST service created by OpenText enables direct connection from any line of business application to the InputAccel Server, which contains all the Captiva modules for document Imaging, document and data capture, and intelligent document recognition. Users can send documents to modules such as FullPageOCR, Classify and ClassifyAndExtract, according to what they need. Optical character recognition/reading converts images of typed, handwritten or printed documents into machine-encoded text, while Classify and ClassifyAndExtract tools identify the type of document through its content, and assign its type. According to the type of document, the content can then enter a workflow or be ingested into another system for further follow-up.

Keeping the environment green

To maintain a clean platform that does not ‘drift’ apart from all the manual actions performed on it, we use PowerShell in combination with Azure DevOps to fully automate updates and configurations. This way, we ensure a stable system from development to test, acceptance and production environments. Eliminating manual steps also helps prevent any of the resulting risks and irregularities.

The source code of the Capture flows is kept in GIT versioning to secure the flows in a version control system. This ensures that a previous version can easily be recovered and redeployed if any problems arise with a new improvement or change to the platform.

Automated deployment

To ensure that all the files are present and set ready for deployment, we automate the necessary files gathering in a build step defined in DevOps. In the release step we use the features provided with Captiva to deploy the process and corresponding files, such as custom coding and recognition projects to the corresponding development, test, acceptance or production environments.

This means Captiva developers only need to connect to the development environment of their application and use DevOps to move form Development to Test to Acceptance and finally to Production. Because all changes are deployed through DevOps, the process becomes repeatable that can be executed again and again. This process automation also greatly simplifies the release procedure, meaning no more writing manuals, no more forgetting steps and no more misinterpretations of the written manuals. Just deploy to the next environment by the press of a button.

To sum up

Cloud capture based on Captiva technology means CaaS, Captiva as a Service - an easy, scalable enterprise capture solution that can grow with the needs of your organization. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, you get a consistent high uptime percentage and easily switch to a different cloud provider if necessary. And no matter where your employees are, everyone can connect to this central solution either through the CWC web capture client, or through the REST API for OCRing or Classifying a document.

With easy access from anywhere, employees across locations or working remotely can easily connect to this central capture solution. CaaS allows you to easily scale whenever a new document type gets introduced and increases the load on the system, or when a branch of the company has new data capture needs. This scalability also means you don’t need to have a large initial investment to host your scanning solution, instead you scale as you grow. As cloud machines are easily replicated and deployed, even if something was to happen to your server farm, your cloud solution will be up and running in a matter of hours, instead of days.

On the development side, by using Azure DevOps, we guarantee an easy to run and deploy solution, enabling developers to quickly move to the next environment without introducing ‘drift’ in the system caused by manual actions. This also eliminates the need for writing new manuals with every iteration.

Want to discuss whether a cloud-based or on-premise is the right approach for your document management system? Send us your questions or get in touch through the comments below and we’ll help you find a solution that eases users’ tasks and simplifies your content organization.