My uncle, a lawyer with many years of experience, always says “if it is not broken, don’t fix it.” But for him a computer is just a very expensive typewriter (FYI: he owns a 286 with a 2G HD). As an engineer, I love that my job lets me be on top of the latest technology, but some times upgrades are nightmares. So, I wonder whether we should embrace my uncle’s philosophy and stick to what we have, or we should all become beta-testers and help software companies develop their products. The answer is none of the above. In my line of business, there are projects involving upgrades on a regular basis. I will try to describe my approach to a “pain-free” upgrade.
Performing a major software upgrade is a big project.
Upgrades take time, and you need to consider why you want/need to do it; but also whether or not it is the right time to do it. When it comes to software, I believe that the latest is not always the greatest because in most cases new versions come with new problems. I prefer to be a little bit behind the latest release and let beta testers find bugs and also let support people get experience in the new product. In reality, this is not always possible. Some upgrades are forced by software mistakes (bugs) found in the previous/current version. Some times, even after a great test process, bugs appear to make our life very difficult and the “only exit” is to upgrade to a version that managed to, or promised to, fix these problems.
“I like what I have”
Sometimes, people wait too long to update their tools. Waiting too long to update can result in higher costs. First, you might be required to pay a premium to get extended support. Second, many functionalities might not be available for older versions. Finally, additional (or third party) software might not be compatible, and you may end up investing in custom development to adjust the old system to your new needs. For instance my uncle was very mad at me when I told him I could not install Microsoft Vista on his machine.
Before upgrading your ECM
I specialize in EMC Documentum, and a regular upgrade involves not only the Content Server(s) (CS) but also the applications like Documentum Administrator (DA). Their documentation is typically good and it guides you through the process very well, but there is one step that some people may overlook; ensuring you have a certified environment. In general, new software versions are developed to take advantage of new technology available (new operating systems and new database capabilities). Real nightmares come to life when system administrators wait until the last minute to update things like the database (DB) and the Web server. So before you start an ECM upgrade, make sure all the dependencies have been upgraded as well.
The unavoidable pain.
So once a new version has been announced and you have done your homework:
- You have compared the new features against your wish list.
- Right after it was released, you started an intense testing process.
- You came to the conclusion that your bottom line would be positively affected by performing this upgrade.
Now the question is, when is the best time to do it? Well, if you have done all of these things, the best time is now. You may be on the road to a “pain-free” upgrade (if such a thing exists). But if you want to make sure everything is up and running for your deadline, you can do what I did in my house when I decided to upgrade my water hose to an automatic (top of the line) sprinkler system; just contract professional services!! People perform this type of job on regular basis, and could potentially finish the job a lot faster than you, and imagine an upgrade that is virtually “pain-free” because it is taken care of by a professional. Generally, this is my approach…. What would you do to have a “pain-free” upgrade? How would you describe “pain-free”?