Snail install

Today I have been involved in a product upgrade on the Documentum platform.

It was a service pack install, usually not very complicated. Although this blog is about content management… i’ll not talk about this right now. In fact, i will talk about the upgrade experience.

Before the installation i wrote down a complete procedure to follow. The installation itslef would be done by a person which is not very familiar with Documentum so it was pretty explanatory.

The installation needed these kind of operations:

– a lot of file and folder copying
– various users to be used
– GUI as well as command line operations
– file contents comparison
– file edits
– folder contents comparison
– restore from backup archives

And now i come to the pain point: these needed to be done remotely on Unix machines.

On my “home” Unix environment the operations lasted about 2 hours, without rush.
In the today’s installation they lasted 7 hours.

Let’s say that the person performing the upgrade procedure was not very talented although he was quite knowledgeable at Unix (quite fluent in command line tricks).

I think the reason is the fact the Unix environment (Solaris based) did not offer enough support for such operations. This meant that the operations which needed to be done became very labour intensive for a “regular” admin.

I give some examples:

– compare 2 folder contents and synchronize them using *nix native commands
– compare 2 files using only less/cat and vi
– move files between complex folder structures named in a similar way using command line

On my “home” environment i have some nice tools to make this easier, but on a corporate, “bare” environment these tools do not exist and you need to rely on the trustful vi/grep/cp/less/cat commands. While these commands are excellent and definitely more powerful than the normal Windows counterparts, the effort needed from an average user (let’s not call it “admin”) is far bigger.

Since all of these operations needed to be done like this, it needed extensive attention (looking at each command some tens of seconds and making checks and double-checks to make sure the result is indeed what we needed).

My conclusion is that even though Unix is arguably better than Windows on server side, you need a highly skilled personnel to operate it and to make use of proper aditional tools (or scripts) to administer it efficiently.

I’m sure any *nix expert out there would jump up and bash me for saying this, and would be ready to prove to me he can do anything faster in *nix that on Windoze. I agree with this. But I’m talking about the average dude operating the corporate infrastructure. Keywords: “average”, “dude” and “corporate”.

Am I really wrong? Or *nix installs of software usually take longer than Redmond ones?

Momentum 2008 – Closing notes

It ended today.

Generally I think it was a very good event. About 1300 persons attended and it was a good mix of customers / partners / EMC.

As I sit in the hotel room right now I try to think if there are any highlights still alive in my mind… please don’t mind the somehow incoherent ramblings below… heck.. it’s just a blog.

One rather small dissapointment was the fact that CMIS did not get too much coverage. Except some mentions done especially by Andrew Chapman (and maybe Mark Lewis… I can’t remember) I’ve not noticed anything special. Pity.

On the upnote, i did not encounter the SharePoint word as much as in other events / presentations. I guess the hype has somehow settled and now everyone is minding their own business in the usual way.

Very nice evening events… One at the Castle, one at the Municipal House. I love Europe :). And especially Prague as a matter of fact. No.. i don’t live in Prague…

Some very interesting presentations from Ed Bueche on the performance side of things. Batching… scoping and high volume server…

I’m not yet clear on what to do with all the SP-DCTM integration opportunities i have on my table. The EMC products on this side are promising.. but the roadmap… hmmm… The partner offering is really only from one company (from the exibitors list). The rest are just plain simple (as I would build it in a few weeks).

As I am on this topic, mind this: UCF .NET 🙂

I’ve seen also a lot of talk around Captiva Dispatcher. Nice, useful module for high volume paper processing. Still somethings missing there, but oh well.. you can’t have it all. Or can you?

If I would be to give a prize to the thing which raised my eyebrows the most: www.nnit.com/continuum. I just loved the eye-candy: it’s a very nicely done UI. Yes, i know… i’m shallow.

See you next year, after we manage to make a buck or two (euro in my case) in the current financial downturn.

Momentum 2008 – First days

These days I am in Prague and attending the EMC Momentum.

It’s the first time for me at Momentum although i have been attending the US World shows in the past years.

I planned to write a review after each day (today is the 3rd one) but the combination of Staropramen and customers filled up all my evenings.

When i go to such events i’m always traing to get a feeling of the “vibe” and vision coming from the speakers. I’m usually searching for the hints to define the long term stategy. In the recent past i attended the IBM show and obviously i’m comparing this one to it.

I don’t know if it’s the financial crisis or something in the air… but the vibe was not here. Don’t get me wrong, the vision is fine. All the guys & galz presenting were saying very sensible things and in a professional way. I just missed the enthuziasm.

What’s the vision? The usual: go from data to information and knowledge. I don’t particulary like the name “Knowledge Worker” but if this is the new marketing buzz.. then why not.

The highlights:

– high volume server – really good for high volume ingestion. Yes, everyone talked about ingestion only. What to do after you get it in? Nobody knows. i think this should be addressed to. I can’t imagine doing a faceted search on billion of objects :). Hm… let’s put CenterStage on top of HA Server ….

– XML Store – this is a big thing. I don’t want to act as a future teller (although we’ll have a futurologist here at Momentum) but i think this will be the next default storage space of Documentum. I’ve shared this thought with Michiel Veen in the second day and it seems is not just an idea. I’ll keep an eye on it.

– SaaS – Not just a hype, in the keynote this was addressed in a very good way from my point of view. I plan a sepparate post on this

– CenterStage – definitely the star of the show. This is the new client for Documentum. Webtop / WDK lived its life and now it’s the time to give way to the more Apple-like UI. Obviously this will take tremeduous effort from the community since there are a lot of solution built on WDK which will need to be redone in an entirely new web way. I think this is good – i’m not a very fond person on the “backward compatibility” idea in UI.

– Victor Spivak – the architect of the house. As usual, the best technical presentation in the house. It was a shame that the presentation was stopped before finish. The whole packed room would have wanted to see more (and Victor was eager to tell it all) but the lady in the back keep insisted to close the session (dunno way, just to make the scheduled time i guess)

– Elephant in the Room – i was in the SP Advisory Forum (hi Robin!) and got into some interesting discussions on the integration topic. Robin has it covered in its post and i think it makes a very good description of the session. I was pretty vocal on the need to really reuse the SP content once it arrives in Documentum since i really believe customers don’t care what system “owns” the content and they just want to work with it from the application of choice. More on this in another post.

now i’m on my way to the Sponsor Track. See ya!