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?