Documentum xPlore, The New “FAST” Search


Taking a break from talking about the economics and future of Content Management to look back at the reality we are facing today.  For all of the need to start moving to the future, we all still have problems that have to be solved today.

imageOne of my most challenging problems in Documentum is full-text search.  While fine for the average system, FAST is a beast.  It requires a large cage, is barely tamed, and takes a lot of work to train for larger tasks.  When you invest in it, life is good, but it is an investment of time and effort.  Like many, a chance to have a scalable, highly-available, reliable, and EASY full-text search as part of the system is something we’ve been missing in Documentum and most Content Management systems.

Well, that is changing.  At the end of October, the new Documentum xPlore search engine is being released.  Known during development as Documentum Search Server, xPlore promises to make life much easier for people.

Before I add any more details, the usual disclaimers apply.  Anything in this post talking about things not released, including dates, is subject to change.  If anything in this post fails to take reality, don’t yell at EMC, yell at me….and I’ll yell at EMC. 😉

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Quality of Documentum Over the Years


I recently received an email from someone whom I will call…Socrates.  He asked a question and I wanted to share it for discussion publicly.  First the question, then my reasons for the public discourse.

Laurence, I have been working on Documentum since version 2. I am now working on DCM 6.5 sp3. I find that the quality of the product is going down every release. What do you think?

The reason that I am bringing it up publically is because I don’t have a clear-cut answer.  As with products from most vendors, some releases are better than others.  I also only have direct experience with Documentum since the 4i release at the end of ’99.  To top it off, I haven’t used every component, much less every component of every release.

Of course, I have some concerns.  I saw Rick Devenuti speak at EMC World and he seemed preoccupied with addressing quality issues.  Whether these are long-standing or new is something we can discuss at the end, where I have a couple more thoughts.

In between, I am going to share some of my “quality” stories here, both good and bad.  I’m hoping that Johnny, Scott, Lee, and Robin all chime into the conversation.  Please do so yourself.

Remember, there is no “right” answer.  We are merely looking for experiences.

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Documentum and the Search for Search


Those of you that follow Documentum’s products know that search has been a bug-a-boo the last few years. When 5.3 was rolled-out, there was much promised around faster search.  It is here, but at a price.  Additional hardware is needed and the version of FAST used by Documentum isn’t VMWare safe. To be fair, dedicating a server to search is part of the reason we have better performance, but it hasn’t been the panacea that we wanted.

In 7.0, we are looking at the prospect of Lucene support for the more plug-and-play repositories, while the larger ones will still be able to leverage a larger, multi-node, FAST installation. (Works great! Seriously, I mean it.)  This is fine, but supporting two search engines, neither of which you actually own, is an issue for any vendor.

So what is the solution? Last week I read an article speculating on the prospect of EMC looking for a search company to add to their portfolio. Now the article was pure speculation, but that is what makes it fun.  Let’s see if it makes sense and who could EMC acquire.

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Traditional Enterprise Search Meets E2.0


So I was reading at Bex‘s post last week on Why Google Will Never be Good at Enterprise Search, and its great comments. I ended-up reading several posts out there in the blog sphere on the topic.  Search has been creeping up more and more in my daily work and I figure it isn’t a coincidence as trying to grab stuff from legacy systems or from multiple silos is challenging.  Heck, just trying to find things that some colleague created last year can be tricky.

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Where in the World is Pie?


As you may have noticed, I’ve been a little inactive lately.  If you are even more observant, you may have noticed a few references to the fact that I was very busy in August and September.  After all, CMIS was finally released last month and I haven’t even posted an analysis on how it measures up from a technical standpoint.

The answer is a little more complex than too much going on a daily basis.  It boils down to one thing, borderline burnout.  I’ve not only not been doing anything on my commute even remotely work-related, I’ve sometimes been going home and night and not even using a computer!  I think my wife hasn’t said anything because I think she is happy about that behavior, even if it is a warning sign.

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EMC Search Potpourri


Sometimes I miss the 90s. Search was so easy in ECM environments. Everyone used a bundled Verity and was happy.

Then things changed. People started to notice that if you actually used the system on an large scale, search performance degraded. There were many reasons for this. One was that vendors weren’t upgrading their bundled Verity engine. Another was that the engine was sitting on the same machine as the primary ECM server, so resources were being consumed at an increasing rate.

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The Federal Documentum User’s Group, November 2007


So I spent a good chunk of today at the local Documentum User’s Group meeting. Formerly a regional/local group, it has been recast as the Federal EMC Content Management and Archiving User Group. This isn’t a major problem as it doesn’t seem to actually be federally focused. I encourage all local DC users to attend. It is a well organized event that is very useful. Of particular use is the local networking with other practitioners. This meeting focused on D6.

Before I get into that, I did get official notification that Howard Shao has rejoined EMC. I’ve known this for quite a while, but had to wait for official knowledge before I could share. This is a very good thing. There were concerns that the departure of too many founders/visionaries would hurt the Documentum product. Hopefully Howard’s return will restore faith and move things where they need to go. Howard is sharp and I am damn glad he is back.

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