Documentum and Alfresco – Migration/Upgrade Analogies

Last week, we put together an overview of migrations and OpenMigrate for one of our partners.  The overview had a couple of interesting analogies regarding migrations as well as best practices that we will share in this post.

Migration and Moving Homes

In many ways, moving documents is a lot like moving homes.  There are many different reasons behind the move and also many different approaches to moving.  Inevitably, some moves will be easier than others and the success of the migration will often depend on the approach.  We explored this analogy in our presentation with a few examples.

Migration and the College Freshman

Some migrations are simple.  We thought moving a freshman to college was the easy analogy of the simple migration.  Most times it just involves packing up the SUV with clothes and other items and driving the freshman to college.  Many items stay behind with other items in the house.

We brought up that this scenario would equate to a small document migration effort.  In some cases, this is the “end user migration” where a user is responsible for downloading documents from the existing system and correctly indexing them in the new system.  We see this scenario often for collaboration approaches where a user is driving setting up the site.  Examples include using or SharePoint.

Migration and the Senior Citizen Retirement Complex

A better analogy for many long-time ECM users is moving an entire apartment building of senior citizens to a retirement complex.  In this case, everything has to move as the old apartments are being sold.  This compares to a more typical Documentum to Alfresco migration where Documentum is going way.  Over time, just like senior citizens acquire their own belongings in their apartments, each department develops their own documents and methods for using the repository.  Each one of the apartments needs to be carefully moved to the new location before the apartment can be sold.

Migration Approach & Best Practices

It is often the approach to moving that has the biggest impact on the success of the move.  Do you want to stuff your belongings into the back of a car and hope for the best?  Or do you want to take time to inventory, organize, and pack your belongings so they can be easily unpacked at your new home?  Similarly, using the correct migration approach is vital to a successful migration.

Professional Movers

While the college freshman type of migration is often something clients can do on their own for a small set of documents, for a large move, we recommend leveraging a partner like TSG.  Think of TSG as the movers and our migration tool, OpenMigrate, as the fleet of trucks that allow the move to go quickly.  Some of the best reasons to leverage a partner include:

  • Internal Staff Priorities – Typically, as part of a migration effort, the client is introducing a new user interface and experience.  We have always recommended that clients prioritize their IT staff learning the new system in order to support it once the migration is complete.  Knowledge of the migration process, once complete, is not as critical as often times that knowledge is no longer needed.
  • Experienced Migration Resources – In keeping with our move analogy, the packers and drivers having experience is similar to our consultants that have done multiple moves in the past.  Having experienced migration/upgrades in the past, they can better anticipate and mitigate problems than first time resources.

Delta Approach

Often times clients, in looking at migration efforts, tend to focus on one large “blackout” type weekend with a tool that can push content quickly.  We mentioned this back in August how the migration tool was only part of the equation.

As we mentioned in that post, we shared multiple concerns in regards to a one and done migration approach including:

  • Ability to repeat the process for ongoing migration needs
  • Ability to apply business logic throughout the migration process
  • Incorrect assumption that all migrations are the same
  • Ability to address documents/data that failed to migrate
  • Ability to repeat the process for different data sources and business cases

Getting back to the migration analogy, we think, for a big move, clients should more concerned with quality than speed, particularly if they take a “delta” approach where some of the content is gradually moving rather than one “big bang” migration.  One of the big differentiators with OpenMigrate is the ability to copy over small chunks and changes to allow the systems to run concurrently, gradually moving the documents and users over to the new system.

Replication versus Migration

One interesting approach we discussed was the idea of replicating content between an old ECM repository and a new one and leveraging the migration tool to keep both sites in synch.  We mentioned this approach in an article back in September.  The approach is shown below:

Alfresco Cloud ArchitectureFor this approach, the idea of a hybrid cloud instance is something unique to leveraging a migration tool for ongoing replication rather than a one and done strategy.

Common Migration Concerns

We wrapped up the presentation by addressing some of the common migration concerns we hear from clients:

  • This will take too long – We recommend clients use delta migrations to break the migration into smaller chunks.
  • There is a HUGE amount of content – The best migrations focus on “taking small bites” of the content rather than a single large effort.  Moving small amounts of documents and users reduces risk and effort.
  • Old ECM cannot or is not going away – For some clients, it doesn’t make sense that the old system has to be replaced.  With many clients we have proposed that the old system remain in place and content can be replicated/copied for ease of use to gradually remove or limit exposure.  Many of these clients are considering opportunities to make a hybrid approach to leverage the cloud.

Let us know your thoughts below.

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