Cloud-based Translation Memory Systems


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Discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of cloud-based translation memory systems.

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Cloud-based Translation Memory Systems

  1. 1. strategy The silent revolution: Cloud-based translation management systems If you are a translator or someone involved in translation, have you ever day-dreamed about a translation manage- ment system (TMS) that provides all its features without the headaches: a TMS that doesn’t conflict with other appli- cations; one that runs smoothly on any system including a Mac; a translation management system that you never have to update; and last but not least, one that doesn’t cost you hundreds of dollars just to get started? If this vaguely describes your vision, I’ve got news for you: This type of translation management system is a real- ity and has been for a number of years already. ByImage: bowie15 JULY 2012 17
  2. 2. strategyBy Uwe Muegge and newest member of the Wordfast family of ent, such as a plug-in for Microsoft Word, many translation management systems. Lionbridge rely entirely on the functionality of a standard Translation Workspace, Memsource Cloud, web browser to connect to the remote web Wordbee and XTM Cloud, to name just a few, server. are examples of fee-based services. Since in all cloud-based TM systems the “heavy lifting” (e.g. segmentation, TM lookup, and glossary lookup) is done on the server side, What’s so great about users of cloud-based systems don’t have toA brief history of cloud- cloud-based translation worry about the involved, multi-step installa-based translation mem- management systems? tion procedures characteristic of conventional desktop translation management products.ory technology No application to install Typically, all it takes to get started with aIn a traditional computing environment, all While some cloud-based translation manage- cloud-based system is an Internet connectionprocessing power and data are located on an ment systems require users to install a thin cli- and signing-up for the service.autonomous local device, typically a desktop orlaptop computer. In a cloud-based environment,on the other hand, the local computer servesprimarily as an input/output device that com-municates with a remote server, and it is withinthe remote server that most of the processingpower and data reside. Consequently, the term‘cloud-based translation management system’refers to a TM system, where the translationmemory software and linguistic assets (i.e. thetranslation memory database, glossaries, etc.)are hosted on remote, web-enabled servers thatlinguists access using either a thin client or justa standard web browser. This type of translationtool made its debut about ten years ago, whenlarge translation service providers and largebuyers of translation services started deployingweb-enabled translation management systems,such as Lionbridge’s Freeway and Idiom’s World- Figure 1: Google Translator Toolkit was one of the first cloud-based systems available to freelance translatorsserver. At that time, only those translators work- and is one of, if not THE most popular cloud-based translation management for one of the few owners of these systemshad access to them.In the second half of the 2000s, things changeddramatically. In 2007, Lingotek, a newly foundedtranslation technology company, made itscloud-based translation management systemavailable to any translator for free. But it wasin 2009 that cloud-based translation becameknown to a wider audience for the first time,when Google launched the Translator Toolkit: afree, full-featured cloud-based translation man-agement system that was primarily designedto improve the translation quality of GoogleTranslate, Google’s proprietary machine transla-tion system (see Figure 1).Today, translators can choose from a widevariety of professional cloud-based transla-tion memory products. The Translator Toolkit Figure 2: Tà, CSOFT’s free cloud-based translation eco system, which is currently in limited release, features inte-probably has the largest user base today and grated machine translation, completely user-customizable workflow management, and advanced automaticis still free, as is Wordfast Anywhere, the third quality assurance functions.18 JULY 2012
  3. 3. strategyUp-to-date translation software, every time! Translate on a Mac or mobile device? Easy collaborationAmong the most inefficient, and truthfully quite No problem! The benefits mentioned so far indicate thatmaddening, aspects of working with traditional In the past, cross-platform support has been a cloud-based translation management systemstranslation management products are the re- major issue with commercial translation memory are more convenient and easier to use than tradi-quired installations, bug fixes, service packs and products. While it is certainly true that transla- tional desktop systems. That alone, in my opinion,updates – not to mention upgrades – to keep tion management systems for non-PC operating would qualify this technology as an evolution ofthe system running and in sync with clients and systems have been available for more than ten translation technology, but not a revolutionar-colleagues. As a busy language professional, the years (with Wordfast as a pioneer in this area), the ily new development. However, the followinglast thing you want to do is spend (non-billable!) market-leading translation management systems characteristics of cloud-based TM systems aretime on software maintenance. run only on Windows, even today. game-changers for freelance translators, as wellWith cloud-based systems, users don’t have to Since cloud-based translation management sys- as for small and medium-sized language serviceworry about updating their software as mainte- tems typically require very little processing power provider businesses.nance is performed on the server-side. That is to and memory on the user side, these systems In a traditional translation environment, collabo-say, the software vendor takes care of all updates, support not only computers that run traditional ration is possible but difficult, because sharing isso users can rest assured that they always use the operating systems (e.g. Windows, Mac OS, Linux), a process separate from translation. If more thanlatest version of their software. A nice feature of but also iOS- and Android-based mobile devices. one translator per language wants, or needs,cloud-based systems is the fact that updates are In the age of cloud-based translation manage- to participate in a project, the document to benot only deployed automatically without user ment systems, translators no longer need to have translated has to be divided among translators,intervention, update cycles for cloud-based sys- expensive computers with fast processors and and the translators themselves need to export,tems are also typically much shorter than those lots of disk space in order to take advantage of e-mail and import translation memories andfor traditional software products, with some the latest translation technology. Any Internet- glossaries on a daily basis to leverage TM matchescloud-based TM system vendors releasing new ready device, including tablets and even smart and ensure consistency. And even then, there isversions on a monthly basis. phones, can now do the job! always a gap between TM updates, during whichJULY 2012 19
  4. 4. strategytranslators a) cannot benefit from the translations information for existing ones, all at the push of a concern for some translators. For many in this field,and potential TM matches their colleagues create, few buttons. These portals can give clients of even the Internet is an invaluable resource, withoutand b) create potential inconsistencies or conflicts the smallest translation business an unprecedented which work may become inefficient. Also, somewith their colleagues’ work. In other words, using level of customer service without causing the of the early web-based translation managementdesktop translation software to share TMs and slightest distraction to linguists. systems had serious issues with response times –glossaries among translators who work on the But it doesn’t stop there! Many cloud-based transla- the memories of impatient thumb-twiddling whilesame document is a complex and highly inefficient tion management systems offer additional features linguists waited for TM matches (or even simply forstrategy. in one or more of the following areas: the cursor to move to the next segment) may haveWith a cloud-based TM system, where all linguistic • machine translation (for post-editing, perfor- been enough to turn them off from trying out aassets are stored on a single centralized server, mance optimization) more updated version.sharing translation memories among multiple • instant messaging (to resolve translation issues Fortunately, most vendors of cloud-based transla-linguists is effortless: By granting other users access with a colleague in real-time) tion management services use cloud-basedto a project, either through a simple system setup • quality assurance (through automatic terminol- technology themselves. Instead of running webor via e-mail invitation, teams of almost any size ogy and TM consistency checks and by the applications on their own servers, they use high-can instantly collaborate. Translators can see and integrity of tagging, formatting and numbers) bandwidth, high-availability cloud-based serviceleverage the translations their colleagues create the • customer management and reporting (e.g. client providers such as Amazon EC2, Google App Enginemoment a sentence is entered in the translation rankings by revenues) or Rackspace. As a result, cloud-based translationmemory database. This means maximum produc- • billing and online payment management systems today have typical responsetivity, maximum consistency, and no time wasted times of below 10 ms (which is faster than the blinksending files and performing non-value-added Low cost solution of an eye) and uptimes are in the neighborhoodmanagement tasks. Most of the services mentioned in the sections of 99%, which means that this technology is very,Better yet, for urgent projects, cloud-based above have been available in web-based transla- very reliable and will almost always be there whensystems enable editors and reviewers to work on a tion systems for a number of years. What’s new is linguists need it.document that is still in translation. As all data are the fact that users don’t have to spend six figuresstored in a single repository, using a cloud-based on software that demands a high-end IT infra- Privacy issuestranslation management system can dramatically structure, which requires specially trained human Yes, it is true that some of the free cloud-basedimprove translation turnaround time compared resources to operate. Cloud-based translation translation management systems, most notablyto traditional desktop and closed server-based management systems are typically available on Google Translator Toolkit, by default make thesystems. Unlike previous computing environments a subscription basis, and users only pay for what translations users enter into their translationthat force users to structure projects sequentially they use, month by month. With cloud-based TM memory available to all other users of that system.and manually perform handoffs whenever they systems, there are no huge up-front costs and no To have some of their most valuable content bewant to share information, cloud-based systems long-term commitments. And with plans starting openly searchable on a website is a scary thoughtgive multiple users in multiple roles simultaneous at less than $50 per month, even translators just for many buyers of translation services, which isaccess automatically! starting out in the translation business can begin why some of these buyers now have clauses in using this incredibly powerful technology today. their non-disclosure agreements with freelanceWorkflow, project management, and portal translators that explicitly prohibit the use of cloud-functions based translation tools for their translation projects.Another nice feature of many cloud-based transla- What’s not to like? However, it is also true that the vast majority oftion management systems is that they offer more With all of these benefits stacked in its favor, why cloud-based translation memory products byfeatures than most traditional desktop translation isn’t cloud-based translation memory technology default keeps the translations users enter absolutelymemory products. For instance, many cloud-based used by the majority of translation service providers private and confidential. Even users of GoogleTM systems support workflow functions that will today? One big reason might simply be that most Translator Toolkit and other online TM systems canautomatically notify a designated person once a language professionals haven’t heard opinion turn their open TMs into private ones, invisible tospecific phase of a translation project has been leaders talk about either cloud technology or the all other users, by simply changing a preferencecompleted (e.g. notifying an editor that the transla- compelling features of cloud-based translation. In setting.tion phase has been completed, or a reviewer on addition to not being on the radar screen of many, So to be perfectly clear about the privacy issue: Itthe client side that the editing phase has been cloud-based translation memory products also is absolutely not true that cloud-based translationcompleted). Speaking of clients, some cloud- include several features and characteristics that are management systems by necessity, i.e. becausebased translation management systems make controversial to some people, causing them to shy of their design, make the intellectual propertycomplete translation portals available to their users. away from using such products. stored in their databases openly available on theIn this type of translation environment, clients of Web. Much like an online banking system, the vastfreelance translators or small translation agencies Requires constant Internet connection majority of cloud-based TM tools, including Googlecan log on to the system and instantly have access While some cloud-based TM systems include an Translator Toolkit, use data encryption for the datato automated quotes for new projects or status offline translation tool, many do not, which is a traffic between the local computer and the web-20 JULY 2012
  5. 5. strategybased translation server. On a personal note, all reasons of their own, I think it is a safe bet that fivecloud-based translation management systems that years from now, the vast majority of translation pro-I am familiar with keep translation memory data viders and buyers will use cloud-based translationsafe and secure, either by default or through one or systems to conduct business.two mouse clicks. As more translators understand what cloud-based translation systems can do for their business, andControl over linguistic assets as more translation buyers start asking their sup-Finally, and this is a concern that cannot be easily pliers to provide the level of customer service onlydismissed, some translators are simply not sold a centralized automated system can deliver, the SOLUTIONSon the whole idea of collaborating and sharing adoption rate of cloud-based TM systems will beginlinguistic assets, especially with clients. to increase rapidly.It is a reality that some linguists are more experi-enced than others; this competitive advantage is Further Reading FORsomething some senior members of the translationfashion are reluctant to share with their more junior • KNORR, E. AND GRUNMAN, G. What cloud com-colleagues for fear of eroding or reducing the puting really means. InfoWorld. 2008.higher rates associated with having more transla- Available from World Wide Web: LANGUAGEtion experience. is typically the same type of linguist who believes cloud-computing-really-means-031?page=0,0.that translation memories and glossaries are the • MUEGGE, U. Ten good reasons for using a transla-translator’s most valuable assets and are best kept tion memory. tcworld [online]. 2010. WORKERSin a safe place and out of the hands of their clients. Available from World Wide Web:Clearly, translators who subscribe to the views in this paragraph will find cloud-based localization/article/ten-good-reasons-for-using-a-translation management systems unpalatable – translation-memory/.especially if those translators already own a desktop • ZYDROŃ, A. Cloud computing, SaaS and transla-translation management system that they are tion tools. MultiLingual Computing. 2012, vol. 23,happy with. no. 1, pp. 20-21. Available from World Wide Web: http://multilingual.texter- EXT END TH E SCOP E OF YOUR SDL TRADO S SOFTWAR EBenefits outweigh draw- id=MaM2ah3LNIIj#pg20.backs ISSN 1523-0309. ·Cloud-based translation management systems TERMINOLOGY LIFECYCLEare the type of translation tool many translation contact M ANAGEMEN Tprofessionals have been waiting for. This newbreed of tools offers many of the same features as ·traditional desktop and server products, however, Uwe Mueggecloud-based services are much easier to launch has more than 15 ONLINE TRANSLA TIONand maintain. And, more importantly, cloud-based years of experience REVIEWTM systems allow users to collaborate to a degree in the translation andthat’s simply unimaginable with the older type of localization industry, ·translation tool. Additionally, some cloud-based having worked intranslation management systems enable individual leadership functions on both the vendor and QUERY M ANAGEMEN Tfreelance translators and smaller translation agen- buyer side. He has been with CSOFT Interna-cies to provide the same automated services to tional, a provider of language services basedtheir clients (e.g. translation quotes and status in Beijing, since 2008, and he currently servesupdates 24/7) that previously only large translation as Senior Translation Tools Strategist for Northservice providers could. And best of all, the cost America.of using a cloud-based TM service is dramaticallylower than the start-up cost of a traditional TM uwe.muegge@csoftintl.comproduct. www.csoftintl.comWhile some translators and agencies will not readilyembrace cloud-based translation technology for WWW.KALEIDOSCOPE.ATJULY 2012 21