Initial ECM considerations, ImageSource

ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is a really interesting topic. And it means different things to different folks. After getting our feet wet, so far I have a few thoughts.

Go with a product that is flexible enough to allow for growth. We are always looking for products that integrate well with our existing systems. Maybe it is a call back to our Lego days, but we really enjoy products that are in reality just very flexible multi tools. Be careful about anything proprietary that is developed for you. Be very clear about who will own the source code. I consider this a crucial part in order to remain flexible and control your own destiny.

Image Capture

If you are going to be doing some form of image capture then a scanner is the gateway into your ECM system (duh). It is also quite possibly the most ‘visible’ part of the install. As such the scanner needs to be rock solid. So, grab yourself some real source documents and give them and the scanner to the person responsible for scanning and get their feedback quick! Start testing various scanners early in the process to help guarantee scanning success.

Some things to research,

How will you be separating ‘documents’, for example multipage invoices. A computer can’t tell where one invoice ends and another begins. The most simple method is to press a button for each single page or multipage document. With in volume this process will grow old, quickly. You can use separator pages. You can use barcode identification sheets. Or if you have a lot of money to burn I would suspect you could use OCR to separate the documents.

Another thing to research (for a month or two, collect some statistics) what types of documents will you be scanning. For example, single sided versus double (or simplex versus duplex in scanner lingo), different sized paper, color versus black and white, thin versus thick. And also, the ratio of single versus multipage docs.

ImageSource has an intriguing product called iLinx Capture which allows you to visually ‘program’ out your workflows. This meets our objectives of having a product that allows you to grow with it as well as the cool ‘Lego effect’ of being able to snap things together. They also allow you to program your own ‘QSX’ modules (they supply VB6 examples). Hopefully soon they will also provide .net example files as part of the iLinx Capture install! This is a really fun product to use and I will be writing a few posts on how we ended up implementing it!

Happy ECM trails…

Next post here


Another awesomesauce equallogic conference #eqlconf

To pull off two really amazing conferences in a row is a wonderful indication of the attention to detail that Dell is taking with EqualLogic. Here is my first conference review

And now on to a review of the second conference. I’ll start with the bad. The weather. What is up with flying to San Diego and getting worse weather than in Seattle…

Thoughts\insights\advice I had\recieved during the sessions in no particular order.

Replication. Replication is a tricky subject. Some good advice I received: If possible use an applications native syncing\replication first before attempting an array replication. Some examples, use exchange 2010 DAG, and for SQL use Log Shipping. These applications will know exactly what data has changed in replicate it probably in the most efficient manner.

Riverbed seems to be (possibly) the replication box of choice (this is base entirely on feel, and no hard facts) they are probably also the most proud of their boxes….

Getting the network right is still probably the most complicated part of setting up your EqualLogic. Jumbo frames should be enabled after they are found to be needed (I seem to remember 4k Iops being thrown out there). Stacking is definitely recommended, I would also recommend testing out your switch failure as part of your install. New firmware for the powerconnect should improve the failover rate, as well as in the future being able to do a rolling update of the switches! (One of the main reasons people don’t like stacking I hear) also setting up two stacks and then LAGing them together is an interesting option.

But, pay close attention to your networking setup. It can make or break your EqualLogic install!

Another topic of interest was the three different ways you can attach to your EqualLogic storage (in reference to vmware) Basically, it really comes down to choosing your approach. For example, if you go the iScsi initiator from within your vm you get to take advantage of the really great EqualLogic snapshot\VSS tools for exchange, filesystems, and sql. In the case of a DR situation though, it makes things a little more complicated because you will need to make sure that the volumes that initiator is connecting too has been replicated.

A ‘normal’ vmfs volume has the advantage of being self contained (but is limited to the 2TB vmfs limit) I like this method because then I can use Veeam for my backup. Speaking of Veeam, I really hope that someday that there will some integration between Veeam and EqualLogic. This would involve scripting vsphere to take a snapshot, then the equalLogic to take a snapshot, then alter the ACL of that snapshot so the veeam box can access it, rescan, connect to the snapshot volume and then proceed with the backup! This would be a very nice method! Please, please, pretty please! Veeam and EqualLogic!

The VDI sessions are always intriguing! Virtual desktops are definitely in the future… someday when we can afford them!

SSD sessions are interesting, would love to dump our ERP database on it and take it for a spin. They also talked about putting tempdb on its on RAID 10 volume… hmmm I wonder how much that would help our environment.

All in all, a really great conference! Good speakers, great to have engineers there listening to our ideas (even better, they actually implement some of them)

Some of my recent ease of use complaints were neatly addressed during the NDA session. All I can say is, I’m glad we got on the EqualLogic train, cause it’s full steam ahead.

The dinner on the USS Midway was epic (what a great place for a bunch of geeks to totally geek out! everyone was walking around in reverence)

A tweetout from Michael Dell to all of the social media folks attending #eqlconf was entirely unexpected and greatly appreciated!