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Posts Tagged ‘#MMTM12’

Your new interface in …? D2? xCP? Both?

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

Going through the Retention Policy Services class at Momentum 2012 in Vienna, I could not keep from thinking of a new interface. Why? I’ve seen so much of D2 and xCP during the past days that the new user interfaces and the new way of solution building, have become to norm for me. Although brand new, this is what customers expected for a long time.

Going through the class I realized that such is not an easy thing. It’s all integrated into Webtop. Not being a records manager, I can be wrong, but it seems as if there is a mismatch between how the tool is designed and the way records management is organized. It seems tool driven rather than process driven. Just for the sake of this blog, let’s assume that my feeling is spot on.

The question is: how would one recreate this? Using D2? Using xCP? Using both?

The easy answer is: it depends. It depends on goals, objectives, budget, time, resources… Foremost it depends on the business requirements and use cases.

Recreating the RPS interface should be driven from the requirements that tell us what the user needs to have in order to do his work. One of the constraints however will be that recreating a user interface should not lead to large changes to the back-end. Only then we will be successful given the time and money spent by the companies to implement a records management solution and in some cases have that validated.

Won’t we do that, we would end up with a clone of the current interface in D2. Possible, but in my opinion a missed opportunity.

Strangely (is it?) enough I believe the answer should be 2 separate solutions. One for the average user and one for the records manager.

The one for the average user is needed because he works with documents and needs to apply a policy every now and then or promote a document to a record. Yet, I hope most of this is done automatically. In those cases that human intervention is needed, the functionality will be available through D2 solutions that exists for that average user. Not an RPS solution.

The other one is needed for the records manager. Records Management is a structured process with unstructured data. Such processes are to be implemented through xCP.

The question that is addressed above is a typical question for all current user interfaces/solutions that rely on Webtop. What will be the replacement? Something in D2? Something in xCP? Something in both? There is no single answer. Each case must be validated on its own. And unlike the above, factors like time, resources and money may do influence that choice. I strongly advice however, to make the choice first without looking into these 3 spoilers. Make sure that you take the conscious decision to cut corners for time, resource of money sake.

The power of EMC OnDemand

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

One of the hot topics this Momentum Vienna is the OnDemand. The new cloud offering of EMC. This blog is not about how great OnDemand is (but I assure you, it is!), this blog is about the reason why a consultancy firm like Informed Consulting, who makes money with third line application support on Documentum, should and is promoting OnDemand.

It is not an easy thing to sell internally. On average a third line support deal for a medium size Documentum solution is between 30k and 150k. When you use OnDemand most of these hours will be part of the full OnDemand deal and that will be done by EMC not us.

So why even mention this to a client? The answer is simple, I like the best for my clients.

Yes, I know for sure there are not better skills engineers than the Informed Consulting support staff and yes giving your Documentum support to Informed Consulting will minimize your frustration with your end users as response times go up and downtime goes down. (and that is a proven statement, over and over again!)

Yes, this is good money and yes, we love to do it

But here is the final clue: Documentum is build on an entire set of components, from OS to database, from JBoss server to Lucene search, from firewall to SAN storage (and you can continue this list for way way to long).

So, even if you have your app support managed by the best, the rest of the stack might be managed by the best, but not by a team that is dedicated to do Documentum support or more precise support on one of the components focussed on optimization for Documentum.

Our conclusion on OnDemand is: we rather do a new project and add new functionality than make money doing app support.
Also: a happy customer will add more to their Documentum environment than a customer which has frequent performance issues or downtime.

Programming versus configuration and D2

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

It seems a simple question. Do I code something or do I configure it. A normal no-brainer.
Configuration always wins.

Or is there a reason why configuration might be wrong?

Let me make myself very clear. When you can avoid programming it is always and will always be the best way. But it does not mean that configuration is always the answer to solve the problem.

This is probably something I have to explain and that is what this blog is about.

First I will try to explain the basics:

  • support for configuration is to create an interface that is very easy to use, so that users without any technical experience, but who know what the end-users need, can use their knowledge to make customizations in the application to make it fit the demands.
  • as a configuration demands a standard way to deploy the customization, the configuration approach will help define a controlled change process that makes making changes or even upgrades a less riskfull process.
  • last but not least, configuration gives you the ability to see real time what the customizations in the system are. Behind the scene there might be a lot of code, but the configuration-set should be a non technical representation of all of these lines of code and thereby give that easy overview of the way the system actually works.

Now I come to the new EMC Documentum D2.
First I want to make clear that I love the end result. The end-user interface is flexible and gives a lot of options to fulfill the end-users demands. Having played with the new configuration interface and tried to create two property screens for two object types I’m strugling with the points above.

  • Easy to use interface: a basic config screen in D2 has at least 3 rows of buttons in different locations, that you might use to make a customization. Every screen has at least 4 area’s where you might see or change something in the property-screen. Beside these items on one page there are multiple tabs for this one property page. Sure I understand that D2 wants to deliver a lot of options to customize a property-screen as clients are demanding this flexibility, but where do you stop with adding options in one screen?  Did someone with real user experience (so don’t let someone like me design it…) look at how you should position the different options ?
  • Deployment. As the basic concept is based on the context (or roles) and the functions they can perform and this is managed in one or more matrix table(s), which do not dynamically highlight the row and column your working on, it is really a gamble to know if you selected the correct cell (especially for an almost blind man like me). Even worse, when a role change is mandatory this will mean a full change of the whole configuration
  • And last but not least, an overview of the customizations done. You are able to export the matrices but getting and overview of what will happen with a property-screen based on a set of property values, will force you to open the configuration-page for the property-screen and look in a number of tabs and different regions within the pages and try to understand the impact of all changes.

So configuration versus programming: always configuration, but configuration can also be way to much. I think that it is mandatory to redesign the user-interface of D2 config and create a more wizard like approach that structures and maybe limits to possibilities of configuration. The current solution will probably lead to the same chaos that to much programming will do.

xCP Intelligence

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

Where BI mines structured data, Content Intelligence mines unstructured data. It mines unstructured data to make better business decisions.

Today 25% of time is spent on finding the right information but even then, we’re only 80% sure that it is the right decision. Shockingly true. Too much time spent and still not sure that you do the right thing.

With content intelligence the context of the information that is derived from content and process analysis, insight is created when combing this with big data analysis, often from external information like trends. Together leading to actions. Actions that lead to new contexts, new insights and new actions.

Tools from EMC can deliver this but it was hard to deliver it in a business application through xCP.

With xCP 2.0 this has now changed.

  • Although dm_relation was available in Documentum, it wasn’t in xCP. Now it is. So business objects can be related like they are in the underlying data model
  • The availability of meta-data from both the data model, including meta-data, and discovered meta-data from CIS can now be used to created context or to created e.g. faceted navigation.
  • Connecting to external services to include Big Data results. Plumtree.
  • Easy way of creating flows, wizards, to support human decision steps.
  • Create rules for business events like a change in a status attribute
  • The document viewer for all sorts of documents in stead of the obvious common handful — believe it’s the one from Deaja.

So, what will this impact the business? Structure human business decisions!

With xCP 2.0 you can start looking for those business critical processes that are important enough to be supported with a formal process that is dynamic and as accurate as possible from your information assets.

Oh, and for a side note: Where does D2 fit in? D2 is a rules engine for content. Different from what xCP does, fitting perfectly next to each other.

The new documentum server D7

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

This blog is a summary of the items I thought really jumped out in the technical talks at Momentum Vienna.

As in one of my previous blogs, it is real clear that the story EMC is telling is: The server is the best and fasted in the ECM world but that is not the reason to buy our software.
And all the presentation had that same atmosphere. It is the best and we are proud of it, but we are not shouting about it.

I like this. If you see all graphs of Ed Bueche you are stunned how fast the new D7 server is. The amount of performance gain on the most fundamental places in the communication of the whole stack is incredible. But everybody presents it as if it are normal expected improvements.

But what are those major improvements:

  1. Context change. The major problem in a lot of performance problems is the start-up time. The first time a user does something after a certain amount of inactivity, the system waits for multiple seconds before the new session is available and the user gets a response back. In D7 this context change improves not only in percentage but also, the more concurrent sessions there are, the more improvement percentage increases.
  2. Type caching. The super solution to make the overall performance significant faster also had a big downside. Once the system starts caching stuff for you, it currently stops your system until all is in. I hoped there was a way to do this on the background, but that was (still) impossible. What they did is change the way they get and store the caching. Looking at the graphs again, the performance gain will mean that the terrible start-up for any logon will be gone, even with large sets of users.

    Note: what is still a comment on this is, that in the graph the performance went down significant with 400 concurrent users. This number 400 is very related to the system set-up, but it will mean that there is always a limit where your system will (probably suddenly) become very slow because the number concurrent sessions or actions on the server.

  3. xPlore 1.3. There is a lot of benchmarking done with xPlore. The takeaway is still: it is a lot better and new patches come out very frequent, but there is still the possibility to run into performance issues. Your system support team should be able to understand the way xPlore handles queries and how to interpret the reporting of xPlore. Ed has a lot of blogs and white-papers about possibilities and test options, but you need to know Documentum, SQL, full-text vs database searches, combining the two and the pain for combining the two and so on.

So overall it is great to see that the major focus for the server is performance not new functionality.

I’m looking forward to my playtime with this new version and test the graph results myself.

Syncplicity ‘syncs’ in

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

Over the past days Jeroen Jansen and I had several discussions about the business value of Syncplicity. Why sell a enterprise look-a-like of DropBox at a price that matches Office 365? There had to be more.

Both the keynote of Rohit Ghai and Jeroen van Rotterdam gave a different angle to it: being able to sync between the many clients that some way or another use information from within Documentum. And not only sync it, but also wipe it when needed.

Syncing includes ‘simple’ things like providing you with a notification when a particular document has been updated. So imagine you’re on a remote device and an important document has been updated in the content server. You mobile client then will give you a notification that the older version of that document — if it happens to be on your mobile device — must be replaced. So syncing extends beyond content. It’s also about knowing where cached copies of documents reside. And with that knowledge you can off course wipe it when needed.

In Jeroen’s architecture session the word sync showed up as part of two environments: on premise and the next-gen public cloud. So think of it. Information available in multiple environments but fully controlled: we know where it sits. It sit in the grips of the enterprise.

Suddenly Syncplicity becomes a suited technology for connecting people to the enterprise. A story we believe in for some years now. A story that is recognized by EMC when listing to Rohit’s keynote. A story we read from the roadmap that Jeroen van Rotterdam shares.

Connecting People to the Enterprise is a key message for most organizations. The new normal.

Offline IRM becomes possible

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

Securing your content has always been and is still a hot topic.
With tools like EMC Documentum and SharePoint it is easy to make sure people within the (extended) enterprise get the right access to the content and with extensions like RSA rights management you can make sure that, within that environment, the information within that context is also secured. You cannot access or print it if the owner (or the enterprise) does not want it.

Same goes for publishing this information to that group. Personalizing and securing the information presented within the enterprise is standard and accepted functionality.
But now everybody is talking about Bring Your Own Device. (BYOD). This means that the easy solutions where you install some IRM software on the enterprise controlled hardware is not applicable.

Than the fun kicks in with all new BYOD devices. Someone (the famous Steve) came up with the app paradigm. The new devices all consist of very loosely coupled app’s that can easily be downloaded from the app store. And suddenly everybody thinks it is normal to download a simple app to have some functionality or information set.

This paradigm makes IRM outside the enterprise so much more simple. Millions where spend to make small and light footprint solutions to connect to some authentication server to do the authentication of that user. It all had to be on-line because of the security risk and the light footprint.

But now the app’s are there. It is the new normal to download an app, install it on all your devices and when you want to open a certain document this app kicks in and you authenticate yourself. As it is a full blown app it can store user information and authenticate once and reuse this even if the user is off-line.

As more and more sync solution are available (I suddenly see a business case for Syncplicity) the user can work off-line and be sure they (and only the right person) can see and use the information anywhere anytime.

As this is a full app, RSA can put more and more control/functionality in it.

So to conclude: The world of apps makes personalized secure content possible outside the enterprise.

D2, a hammer, but is everything a nail?

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

As Informed Consulting we believe in the individual employee that needs to be connected to the enterprise.
The individual has become important and will increasingly become more important.
Today employees are a mixture of people that grew up without PC’s and people for whom always on-line is like breathing: you can’t do without.
Our live has changed. Our expectations of the organisations have changed. Bring your own device. Choose your own tool.

From the needs of the enterprise this looks completely different.
Control. Compliance. Structure. Successful ECM solutions typically meet these two needs roughly halfway.

Meeting both needs halfway needs more than just the good old Documentum Content Server and Webtop. We see the combination of SharePoint and Documentum — connected through SDF — as a common solution.
But what if — right or wrong — the customer doesn’t want SharePoint in their IT landscape? Is D2 a product that could fill that gap? Can we SharePointize D2?

Yesterday was election day in the USA so the applicable answer is: Yes we can!
But like these elections, it’s a close call.

More importantly, it depends on the context of your collaboration.
If it is just document handling and providing ‘info’ widgets next to it, there is a significant overlap between SharePoint and D2. Later, when D2 will add full 2–way communication in the widgets, it will even get closer.
If your collaboration is also around discussions, contact lists, meeting agenda’s, and all those (sort of) content-less objects, it becomes a different story.

The question then becomes: will you create all those missing features somehow in a Documentum back-end? I think — although technically possible — you shouldn’t. Once you have a hammer, not everything is a nail.

To avoid this pitfall, you must think carefully before you act. Ideally, even before you choose the solution!
D2 to some extend reminds me of the late 80’s with interfaces on top of databases.
We’ve come a long way since and learned some lessons.
One is to do your application analyses very well. Get all requirements. Make your use cases. Do your interaction designs. Then choose your solution.

Approach of the new xCP2

November 6th, 2012 Comments off

The two interface types EMC Documentum really put their focus on are D2 and xCP.
In this blog I will give my first impression about the paradigm of xCP.

The first technical thing you see is that although the interfaces are very similar D2 and xCP are based on different JavaScript standards.

xCP relies on eclipse and uses a lot of the concepts that are well known in eclipse. (a Java development platform). The focus of the configuration is still the same as the old version: you create forms (pages) per action of objects that will be shown based on the step in the business process or independent actions performed by the user. New in this is the business object concept. In the old xCP you created containers (often folder) to store information about the items that are managed in the solution (like a contract or a client). Now the whole new xCP really has a business object that is defined as a object that does not have to be within the archiving structure. This really separates the business operational logic with the archiving structure.

An other important change is the concept of the interface. In TaskSpace the interface was standard and you could set some properties (if you want to avoid any WDK development) to show a different logo and color. In xCP2 you define an application master page just as you do in PowerPoint. Way more flexible.

Last but not least you see the use of relations between business objects. Already a basic Documentum functionality but never used in xCP.

My first impression is simply put VERY IMPRESSED. As my vision is that Documentum should be the repository for enterprise important documents that need to be controlled on an enterprise level, you need a tool that gives you the possibility to demand ease of use but structured and control. xCP 2.0 gives you just that.

Cannot wait to play with it on some serious projects.

EMC IIG changes focus to solutions

November 6th, 2012 Comments off

In all keynotes given at Momentum Vienna it is very clear. EMC want to move to solutions and lower their ‘commercial’ focus to the base platform.

A bold move of the Documentum team. The enterprise platform is and was always the strongest in the world and often a game changer in a deal.

At Momentum Vienna 2012, the launch of Document 7 is done, but the focus and the firework where not about Documentum version 7.
It is just a simple statement. Documentum 7 is out. It is better faster and more robust.

But an excellent move it is in my opinion.
The platform will not go away. The investments will keep going, but selling a platform is not the way to go in the new normal.

The reason why I’m a long time Documentum fan is because the platform is what it is. Since its beginning in ’88 the base of the platform has not changed. The relational object model concept is still very much the same only more object types are added.
Me being a techy, I like it, but that is not what sells a product. (and it should not!)

What sells is the added value you will achieve when implementing a solution with it. And that is something where all big ECM vendors are struggling with.
EMC already tried several times to get a solution offering going, but all of them failed badly.

This time the approach is so significant different that I think it will become a success.

So what is the secret?

  1. all solution EMC will create, come out of the professional services group. The base for solutions are custom builds for clients that are migrated to solutions or products.
  2. once a cusomization is identified as a possible solution, a seperate group within professional services takes ownership of the potential solution. Letting consultants build repeatable solution is not a good idea (when it works it works, I have tested it myself).
  3. last but certainly not least, only a small part of the solution that a EMC sales will offer heir clients will be build and maintained by EMC. All others will come from their partner community. More specifically their Consulting Preferred Partner Program (C3P).

Specifically the last bullet will be the game changer. Partners are now able to submit their best practice solutions into an approval process by EMC and an independent reviewer to get their solution certified. And certified does not mean that your name will be shown somewhere on one of the last and hidden pages on the EMC website (as it used to be). No, they will be in the EMC Sales price-book and the sales will be compensated for every sell.

Let the games begin and we at Informed Consulting will accept the challenge to come up with some selling solution on top of Documentum and the SharePoint Documentum connector.