We had an interesting call with a client yesterday that is looking for content management capabilities for BIMserver. BIMserver (www.bimserver.org) is an opensource Building Information Modelserver. In this case, the BIMserver already integrates with Alfresco . Unfortunately an internal company mandate specifies that Documentum be used for long-term record retention. Unfortunately we are seeing this scenario often as the political pressure to justify a previous large Documentum purchase will take precedent over a current technology decision. This post will discuss a hybrid approach along with other alternatives.
Why not just integrate BIMserver with Documentum?
The client has concluded that building the open source equivalent to Documentum is not in their or Documentum’s long term vision due to support, cost and development resources required. The client would like to use the already existing Alfresco integration for work in process while treating Documentum as an archive with greater amounts of storage.
Another significant issue exists regarding users and licensing. The client may have thousands of users accessing the system. Many of the users would be short-term users (one or two accesses). The client was particularly concerned with the Documentum licensing model of named users. For those unfamiliar with the named user model, it is different than a simple user model. A named user represents a person (ex: Bob Smith). Alfresco has a CPU and support only licensing model that, for the large number or casual contributors, makes more business sense.
What about Documentum for all storage?
When we first started talking to the client, the client was considering, per the advice of their Documentum resource, leveraging Alfresco for the front-end but storing all objects in Documentum via web service calls and a common user-id. Alfresco, as an open-source platform, can be modified to store content outside of the repository but it would take some effort.
As we have mentioned at this site multiple times, leveraging anonymous access to Documentum (ex: User=Guest, Password=Guest) is a huge Documentum software audit flag and we would highly discourage it unless you wish to buy licenses for all employees in your organization that can reach the website. From the EMC software use rights documentation – http://www.emc.com/collateral/software/warranty-maintenance/h2483-sw-use-rights.pdf
Named User Licensing Model – Licensing and pricing is based upon the total number of unique named users accessing the Software, whether such users are actively using the Software, or accessing the Software at any given time. If a named user leaves the employ of the customer, or moves into a role that doesn’t require access to the Software, the seat does not have to be relinquished by the customer, but can be reassigned to a different named user.
Software Access and Use Requirements – Except as otherwise agreed in writing, licenses are required for each device/user accessing or using the Software, notwithstanding any non-EMC technology used to (i) reduce the number of devices or users the Software directly manages; (ii) pool connections; or (iii) reduce the number of devices/users accessing or using the Software.
Hybrid Approach- Front-End Alfresco, Documentum for Archival
The approach we are recommending to the client it to treat Documentum more for archival rather than real—time access. The process would work something like the below:
- Alfresco is the storage for BIM. All documents are entered, routed, approved and generally worked on from the Alfresco repository.
- When documents reach a state where they become a “record”, an automatic process would copy those documents to Documentum being used as the record retention archive. When the documents are updated in Alfresco, the process would automatically update the documents in the Documentum archive.
- Documents in the Documentum Archive would be a record and would have security limited where they could not be updated (read-only access for Documentum users)
- If storage became an issue in the Alfresco repository, the content for the documents that have been archived could be deleted, leaving the meta-data with an indication that the content has been archived.
- If access to the deleted content was required from Alfresco, users could request to restore the archived content. An automatic process would copy the documents back to Alfresco for continued updates.
The client was slightly concerned that Documentum/EMC might not “approve” this approach. In working with clients and the different integration options with Documentum, typically Documentum will push for “all users need a named user license to Documentum for all applications that access content”. There are some notable arguments why the hybrid approach is easily within the software rights:
- Documentum sells a tool, Site Caching Services, that is used to push content out of Documentum by consumption by different tools. We often saw this used with Web Publishing solutions.
- Documentum sells a tool, Documentum Repository services for SharePoint, that allows SharePoint to be a front-end with all content being stored in Documentum (and only accessible by SharePoint).
- Documentum sells Captiva, a software that can be used by multiple scanners yet only one license is required for the bulk-upload component.
- Per the software use rights, the Documentum software is not managing the users (and couldn’t, given that there is no integration to BIMserver), Alfresco is managing the users. There is no pooling of connections as the archival process is run intermediately and could just be a daily or twice daily job.
OpenMigrate supports a Hybrid Model
The client initially contacted TSG based on the success of OpenMigrate in both the Documentum and Alfresco space. In supporting the hybrid approach, OpenMigrate can:
- Copy content from Alfresco (source) to Documentum (target) with mapping of attributes, preservation of versions and assignment of security unique for each platform.
- Copy content from Documentum (source) to Alfresco (target) with mapping of attributes, preservation of versions and assignment of security.
- Be configured to run weekly, daily, hourly or other time interval to support archival.
Let us know your thoughts on the approach below.