Monday, March 28, 2011

Documentum's 2009 "Roap Map": Optimism to Reality

Looking back on EMC Documentum’s product “Road Map” announcements and the hype revolving around them shows how marketing works and how it tries to scare or lure customers into upgrading and/or buying more products.

I read an article entitled EMC World 2009: Beyond D6.5, A Product Roadmap written by Pie in May, 2009. It was very informative with all the buzz words and I’m sure accurate for that moment in time. However, there were statements like “D7 not 2009, will be 2010”. This gives the impression that EMC is moving quickly on its major releases.

It is March, 2011 and we’re at D6.6. I’m not going to bet that D7 comes out this year. I remember reading Pie’s article and being excited to work with DFS and CMIS. I was also surprised at how many installations were still at 5.3sp2. I’m working on an upgrade right now from 5.3sp2 to 6.6. This is a large installation which requires lots of planning and coordination. A year ago, I looked at a 4.3 installation still going strong...

The owners of legacy DCTM systems wait until post support ends and then they leapfrog over many releases. Which technique is best suited for your company depends on many factors, but I’m willing to bet that they save a lot of money by waiting. There is less disruption of User experience as well. The IT department suffers because the technology is antiquated by the time of the upgrade. Three CIOs have probably swung through the company.

Taken with a grain of salt, these “road maps” usher in new excitement about technology X.0. These unveilings show us what we want to hear, they excite us, they allow us to dream of new interactions, new trends, new connections. I enjoy these “road maps”, but I would rather they were called “dreamscapes” instead. Like most companies that are strapped these days and cutting IT budgets, EMC needs to figure out ways not to over sell. They need to tell it like it is, which is a map with changing roads and the distances will always be longer, the scale will morph, and their products will slip in and out of relevancy to the hype. 

EMC Documentum's longevity has to do with the product's orginal vision, not the over selling antics of sales and marketing. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kicking the Share Drive Habit

Business productivity in the world of “just get this thing done already” means using whatever MS Excel can offer to track the content out there and report on it. This process usually equates to lots of manual double checking, lots of verification, and lots of busy work. Lots of human intervention is not a bad thing, however at some point the “finding” and “versioning” become unwieldy. Some type of content management system must be purchased.

The purchasing, deployment, and education of the first system is the most crucial step in setting the stage for the future health of the organization’s information. It was not that long ago when IT Directors were saying that content management systems did not belong in the enterprise services stack. Some industry IT shops still harbor misguided and regrettably wrong impressions about the complexities of information and especially content and process automation.

So here’s a guide to moving content off the share drive and into a content management system.

One of the key concepts that is missed by most ECM vendors is that each bulk import/migration needs to be executed with a certain percentage of customization in order to get the best results. You could bulk import with an off the shelf tool, but don’t expect to get all of your content into the target content management system.

Remember: the cost of exceptions could add up to more than the cost of the off the shelf tool.

Analyze Your Content and Metadata

Use a file listing app (whether it’s off the shelf or home grown) to build inventory Excel/CSV files with the following criteria:

• Absolute file path for folder and file location

• File names

• File properties such as creation date

• Create drop down lists based on the target content management system
  • User names
  • Fixed values like state or vendor name
  • Destination folder paths
Use or Create an Import/Migration Application

• Incorporate the work done in the Analysis

• Design it based on the specific requirements of the import or migration at hand

• Pre-Flight of Excel track files

• Does the file exist?

• Are the date values valid?

• Do User names exist?

• Are Illegal characters handled during the migration?

Make Validation Simple

Using the absolute path values of the source content, make sure the target has an attribute for that same value. This will make is much easier to not only validate the results, but to recover from failures where rerunning thousands of imports (for one failure) would be incredibly inefficient.