EMC Goes Mobile, Creating a Redundant Déjà Vu Experience

You know the guy: Ned Ryerson the insurance agent in Groundhog Day, One of the strangest things to happen at EMC World was the announcement by EMC of a mobile client for the iPad. It is scheduled to arrive in Q3 of 2011 (I made them commit to a specific Q3). Some people even said July 15, but I’d be more than happy with an arrival before Labor Day.

So why is that strange? Doesn’t everyone need a mobile client? Isn’t that a cornerstone of Choice Computing? Doesn’t Sarah, the new user, want access to information anywhere on every device. Well, you are correct on all fronts.

The strange part is that when you take a step back, you realize that the market is already addressing this need.

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Documentum Renewal: Architecting Content Applications

Of all my posts in this series, this is the one that is probably the least needed.  I say this because it looks like EMC is some of this now.  It does need to be said though, just so EMC know that we still care, and in case I am guessing wrong.  The themes for the Architecting of Content Applications is closely related to the Application Separation topic and in many ways, is the complement to the Focus on the Core edition.

I’m going to stay away from some specific feature requests for applications.  I would want to do complete run-downs on any app before I did that.  I want to be a little more strategic in my advice.

As always, please feel free to add/comment.

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Tips: Sizing a D6 System

As you may have noticed, there is no publicly available Sizing Spreadsheet for the newly released D6 yet. It is my understanding that they are still collecting data and refining it so that they have a high enough level of confidence to back it. However, I was able to get a draft copy recently and I wanted to share some observations.

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First Client Ship for D6

I have been told that FCS for D6 was yesterday. At last check it was not on the download site. Expect that in the next week or so as it always lags a bit. Three items of note…

  1. TaskSpace is coming in October. I’ve heard a couple of concerns around stability on the new interface and they seem to be waiting to get it right. Smart move.
  2. File Share Services is delayed until Q4. Haven’t heard anything about the why, but I’m not overly concerned. As this is used for desktop interactions, this shouldn’t slow people down much. By the time most upgrade plans are in place and getting ready for Test, this should hopefully be out. I’ve only needed it once over my career, so I don’t think the impact is massive.
  3. No sizing spreadsheet for D6 yet. However, expect about 25% more load on the Content Server. What exactly is meant by that, I’m not sure. I would assume both RAM and processor. Indexing should be the same as 5.3. No hints on the Application Server as of yet.

So if you need it, find your local EMC rep and tell them you can’t wait for the download site. I’m going to give them a week before I start bothering them. Realistically, not that much spare time to make it worth the effort until then. All of my precious spare time this weekend is devoted to this week’s game.

Enjoy your Labor Day.

Taxonomies, Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Sumanth Molakala posted a great look at determining the amount of effort that should go into creating a taxonomy for a new Enterprise Content Management solution. This brings up a debate that I have had/observed among ECM professionals for years. Do we make Search the primary access method, or the second? I find that every professional has a leaning, and I have yet to find a solid predictor for any practitioners’ preference.

I prefer a good hierarchy, while Sumanth appears to favor searching. I find that the creation of a hierarchy helps me organize my thoughts and determine what is important about any given piece of content. Also, while Google may be trying to take the world over via the Internet, most users are more intimate with their old-fashioned network file structures. The ability to browse to a piece of content adds to user acceptance of their first Document Management application. Over time, many users transition into Search-first users. Until that happens and ECM becomes transparent, I believe that a good taxonomy is important.

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One Little, Two Little, Three Little Interfaces

Several weeks ago, I promised a reader [EDIT: Read the comments here.] to discuss why I would think twice before adding a TaskSpace interface to a solution that already included an eRoom interface. Aside from the obvious that TaskSpace is a brand new interface and could most likely use service pack or two, I am always hesitant to provide too many interfaces into a solution. There are times for it, but it is important not to add them just because you can.

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Bonus Post on the CMA

Bonus post? How can there be a bonus post after two days of not posting??? Simple, while I was working on the post that follows this, I wrote this post as part of it. I then decided to break it out. Thus bonus. Since I decided this had to be posted first, the chaos followed.

Here is a quick breakdown of how EMC is now classifying their Content Management and Archiving (CMA) group (the latest name for Documentum product family) into four Content Types:

  1. Knowledge Worker: Collaborative Content Management, focusing on personal and team productivity and extranet collaboration. This is where all the traditional Document Management and Collaborative solutions go to roost. This includes office documents, discussions, emails, project plans, and so forth. Products and features that are hidden under here include Lifecycles, Enterprise Application Integration such as Content Services for SharePoint and SAP, eRoom, Collaborative Edition (CE), Content Intelligence Services (CIS), and Enterprise Content Integration (ECI) Services.
  2. Transactional Content Management: This is basically Captiva plus all the fun business process tools to make them compete with IBM, formerly known as FileNet. In addition to the scanning and imaging, they have thrown in Business Process Manager and their Forms tool. The new Taskspace is also under here.
  3. Interactive Applications: Here is our friendly Web Content Management (WCM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM). They have combined these, in a fairly astute move. Let’s face it. These days everyone’s website, except mine, has lots of rich media. They need to work together closely. Supporting this is the Content Transformation products as well.
  4. Archival Content: Welcome to Records Management (RM) and all the fun of Archiving. While the other categories cover different types of content, this covers the last stages in a piece of content’s life before it is lost and destroyed forever. This group covers RM, Archive Services for Reports and Email, and all other Archival Services products. I don’t focus on this group much as Records Management isn’t changing quickly and until Documentum completes the creation of their new lightweight sysobject in D6 sp1 (yes, I am already waiting for the first service pack coming next winter), the use of the Documentum Content Server as a platform for massive archiving, read emails, is probably best left in the lab.

How long will these new divisions last? Longer than normal as they seem thought out. The only threat that I see is if the overall platform development is hindered by this division.

D6, ECM 2.0’s Foundation

Well, EMC World didn’t give us much new, but it confirmed a lot of important facts about the upcoming release, as well as labeling their thought process in the marketing world. Each product has some neat new features, but I am only going to hit the big ones that stick out in my mind. Have a question on it, leave a comment and I’ll see if I know, or maybe another reader will.

NOTE: These features could change! Having managed release cycles for a few products, it is simply amazing how much can change at the last minute. From my discussions, I feel pretty confident that these features will be delivered or I wouldn’t be taunting you with them.

  • Aspects: If you don’t know what Aspects are, they are a part of the Object-Oriented world that basically adds another dimension to the complexity of any OO design or implementation. That being said, they can make life much easier. Right now, say you have an object type for project documents. You have a couple of pieces of meta-data including a Project lookup. No biggie, extend dm_document (or your enterprise document type). What if you have project emails coming in through DCO? You have to extend the dm_mail_archive type in the same manner. Thus you are managing the model in 2 places. This can get worse, but we’ll stop there. With Aspects, you can create a Project Aspect and apply it to the types dynamically. That’s right, Aspects can be applied at any time to a document, not just when a document is created. Ain’t life grand?
  • TaskSpace: This is a new UI into the Documentum world. It isn’t just a way to charge people for a new interface, it is actually useful. The key new UI behind their Transactional Content offering, it takes a user straight into their Documentum Inbox. Once their, they can look at task information and see the actual content in the same web page. Using the Brava! viewer from Informative Graphics, users can annotate and process their work within one screen. In addition, it introduces “Smart Folders”. These are just canned searches that return all content with, for example, Account #43839. The user doesn’t need to navigate the folder hierarchy to see all the related content. This is something that if you haven’t seen and you use workflows, you need to see.
  • Improved BOCS: Right now, Branch Office Caching Services can only cache data that has already been requested by someone accessing that server. In D6, you can use predictive caching to have the content ready and waiting. PLUS, it will have write-back capabilities so that distant users don’t have to wait for the content to get back to the Content Server before they continue working on something else. This is going to make the One Repository model truly viable for the global organization.
  • Documentum Foundation Classes: This is a big change. EMC is moving to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This is going to make life a lot easier down the road to write new user interfaces and to have different systems interact together. I already have uses for this on my projects. EMC is already using them. The new SharePoint Services for Documentum coming in D6 sp1 is going to be built on this completely. Following that will be the next generation of eRoom built using ASP .NET as the interface and Content Server as the backend.
  • Java Libraries: I wrote previously that this was the biggest risk, and I stand by that statement. However, it also offers one of the greatest boons to every Linux lover out there. Right now, Content Server is certified by OS and Processor. Same for the install package. In D6, theoretically you can just drop the WAR file into an App Server and you are done. I’m sure that there will be a few details, but this opens Linux up to non-Intel platforms and lets IT shops everywhere stick with what they know. The only question, how will the classify the supported platforms? For that we will have to wait for the release notes.