Interesting things about ECM

2010/06/02

Improving usability with Oracle

Filed under: Oracle UCM, Stellent, Usability — Tags: , — Anthony Fast @ 10:17 am

Source: http://markmorrell.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/improving-usability-with-oracle/

Improving usability with Oracle

By markmorrell

Oracle is holding their first Usability Board Europe meeting on May 5th.  I’ve been to a previous Oracle meeting and am keen to improve the usability of all applications BT uses.

At this meeting Oracle and founding members will:

The usability issues I will be raising are:

  1. Out of the box usability must be high
  2. Better usability does not mean more features.  It means features must be more usable.
  3. Think of users when offering help.
  4. Don’t focus on making error messages better, aim to prevent users making errors.

I’m sharing some slides I plan to use at the meeting.  Anyone want to add anything?

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2010/05/27

Oracle UCM 10gR3 Premier Support Ends Dec 2012

Filed under: Oracle UCM, Stellent, WCM — Tags: , — Anthony Fast @ 1:37 pm

Oracle announced that the premier support for Oracle UCM 10gR3 ends dec 2012.

Release GA Date Premier
Support Ends
Extended
Support Ends
Sustaining
Support Ends
Oracle Universal Content Management 10gR3 May 2007 Dec 2012 Dec 2015 Indefinite
Oracle Universal Records Management 10gR3 May 2007 Dec 2012 Dec 2015 Indefinite

Source: http://www.oracle.com/us/support/library/lifetime-support-middleware-069163.pdf

Note that Oracle UCM 10gR3  is the current release!  (See http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/content-management/downloads.html)

Overview for all Oracle Enterprise Content Management Releases

Source: http://www.oracle.com/us/support/library/lifetime-support-middleware-069163.pdf

2010/05/20

Oracle UCM – Security model, ACLs and performance

Filed under: Oracle UCM, Security, Stellent — Tags: , , — Anthony Fast @ 6:26 am

Source: http://bexhuff.com/2009/09/the-deep-dark-secret-origin-of-oracle-ucms-security-model#comment-4629

Maybe somebody should revise the Oracle® Universal Content Management guide, “Managing Security and User Access,” where it says on page 7-4: “If you enable accounts and use them, you cannot disable them without losing data. DO NOT enable accounts unless you are certain that you want to use them.” Either the documentation is wrong, or you lose data. It says nothing about the “appearance” of having lost data.

Page 3-3 of the same piece of documentation says: “The number of security groups should be kept at a minimum to provide optimum search performance and user administration performance. If your security model requires more than 50 security classifications, you should enable accounts and use them to control user permissions.” I take this to mean that the performance degrades noticeably (or can degrade noticeably) after you scale beyond 50 security classifications. Later, the documentation cites an example where changing a single permission can take 10 seconds. Not to be a pain in the ass, Bex, but how does this support your statement “This model scales very well”?? (I take it back. I am being a pain in the ass.)

One last carp. You say that “ACLs are horribly slow and impossible to administer.” For this particular CMS application, that may be true, I don’t know. All I know is that ACLs are the de facto industry standard way of doing this sort of thing. When you choose Door No. 3 and invent a nonstandard approach to solving a problem for which the wheel has already been invented, you only end up needlessly confusing and scaring analysts — and making customers read documentation, something they hate doing.

At any rate, I did learn a lot from your excellent writeup. Thanks for doing it. I feel better now. 😉

Answer by bex: http://bexhuff.com/2009/09/the-deep-dark-secret-origin-of-oracle-ucms-security-model#comment-4630

Don’t know why that’s there… the content you checked in is still in the repository, and the metadata is still safe and sound in the database. Users will lose access to these documents, until you either update all your users, or update all of the values for “account” in the database to blank. You can do batch metadata changes with the Archiver tool… which should be done prior to turning off accounts anyway.

I take this to mean that the performance degrades noticeably (or can degrade noticeably) after you scale beyond 50 security classifications.

In general, performance degradation is due to the complexity of the security model, and not the number of groups or accounts. For example, if you have 100 classifications, but most users can only access one or two classifications, you won’t see many problems. The “security clause” I mentioned above would be pretty small… However, if every user gets access to 50 classifications in different ways, then you’re likely to see performance to degrade a bit because of the increased complexity of the SQL in the security clauses. This can be fixed with some database tuning, however. Some of the admin applets — like User Admin — load more slowly depending on the number of security groups, but that’s rarely a big deal.

All I know is that ACLs are the de facto industry standard way of doing this sort of thing.

Slow searches are also the de facto industry standard 😉

ACLs are easy, which is why everybody does it that way. We took a look at how everybody else did it, and knew that they were doing it in a way that would require a ton of hardware in order to function, a ton of maintenance, and a ton of risk. We didn’t want to go that route… and what we came up with was pretty close to how LDAP does things. Seems to me like a good gamble that paid off…

I cannot name names, but I encourage you to talk with enterprise architects in industries with serious security concerns — like financial and government — to ask them what they think of ACLs in general. As I said, you still can do ACLs with Oracle UCM, but you’ll need beefier hardware.

2010/03/05

Should Oracle be on your Web CMS shortlist?

Filed under: Oracle UCM, Performance, Security, Stellent, WCM — Tags: , — Anthony Fast @ 1:58 pm

Source: http://www.jboye.com/blogpost/should-oracle-be-on-your-web-cms-shortlist/
August 31st, 2009 by Janus Boye

Oracle is among the largest global enterprise software vendors and like IBM and Microsoft, Oracle entered the CMS marketplace via an acquisition (Stellent in 2007). Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM) is based on the original Stellent product now fully rebranded, much improved and leading the market according to IT analyst Gartner. Does this make Oracle an obvious and safe candidate on your Web CMS shortlist?

We find that Oracle UCM does not come up often in standalone Web CMS selections, which is why it did not appear on our 2009 CMS Shortlist. According to Oracle sales pitches, the product has experienced increased adoption in recent years. As the Oracle customer list is very long and Oracle is known for upselling to the install base and for including UCM in larger deals, this sounds plausible.

Depending on your specific requirements, there are several reasons which might make Oracle a meaningful inclusion on your shortlist.

  • Oracle has continued to invest engineering resources in the product and made several recent improvements to the WCM part of UCM including usability, personalisation and accessibility.
  • As a large software vendor, you may already have a strong existing relationship with Oracle. If this the case, your stakeholders will probably appreciate getting a proposal from Oracle.
  • If you have a strong requirement to manage non-web content, eg. documents, this will play well with the product’s strengths.

Before you go ahead and add Oracle UCM to the shortlist here’s a few bullets for your consideration:

  • License and implementation cost will require a serious budget. The starting price is either US $115k  per-CPU or $2,300 per system user. Moreover, Oracle implementation partners are not known for attractive hourly rates.
  • Usability might have been improved, but still existing customers on the newest version of the product are so frustrated with poor usability that they publish commentaries like Oracle, can you improve your poor usability please? by Mark Morrell at BT.
  • You will need to learn the proprietary “Idoc Script” language for Site Studio until 11g release comes out.
  • UCM is a complex product and will be overkill for many scenarios.

Oracle is planning to release the much-anticipated 11g version of Oracle UCM later this year, which we look forward to studying closer. In the mean time, consider talking to Oracle on getting more information about what’s coming.

Comment on this article by Kas Thomas August 31st, 2009 21:49, Source: http://www.jboye.com/blogpost/should-oracle-be-on-your-web-cms-shortlist/

I would add another precautionary bullet point, having to do with the rights model. Study the UCM roles and rights model carefully and compare it against your requirements; that’s my advice. Maybe @bex or someone with deep UCM experience can educate me here, but I find the UCM rights model a tad unconventional. It defines a security group as a collection of files (not users). It maps rights to roles, then users to roles. Each security group is accessible to appropriately privileged roles.

If you create more than 50 security groups, system performance (initially at the admin level, but eventually at the user level) begins to take a hit, at which point Oracle suggests you turn on a feature called Accounts, which is a more granular, hierarchical permissions model. But if you choose to enable “Accounts,” you can’t go back to a non-accounts-enabled model without losing data (according to Oracle’s own documentation).

The whole thing seems a bit scary to me, but maybe that’s because I don’t understand it, which is not infrequently the case with things that scare me.

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