What is the return of the automatic Documentum installation for the municipality of Amsterdam?

Documentum installations, especially those of xCP, are always tricky jobs. There are many components to consider and there is a good chance of mistakes. All this is only amplified the moment you run this installation manually. At the city of Amsterdam, we were able to carry out a Documentum installation twice in the past year. The first time we did this installation manually. The result: >150 pages of manual, environments that differed in minor ways and a typo during the go-live weekend that took two hours to find the cause. The end result was positive, but the road to it was bumpy. We decided that things had to change and one of my colleagues told me that he had very positive experiences with automated installation scripts at his customer.

The functional story

During the first installation, an automated installation script was also mentioned, but the impression was that this was a lot of work to prepare. And required a lot of scripting and maybe even programming. Nothing is less true. Each component of Documentum comes with a “silent install” option that can run completely in the background through a configuration file. So most of the work is compiling the configuration file containing server names, accounts and options that can be turned on or off. You can then use a .bat file to ensure that these silent installers are called and linked together.

So most of the work is compiling the configuration file. Although a smart option has been devised for that as well. If you perform the installation once using the -r parameter, a “recording” will be made of your installation and all your choices will be saved in a configuration file. You can then use this file again to do an automated installation on other environments later.

The challenges

It would be too nice if everything worked this way. There are, of course, some exceptions to this story.

Tomcat

Tomcat also has a silent install option that works well. However, not everything can be set with this. Documentum, especially xCP, requires some settings for it to work properly. These settings are stored in the registry at Tomcat on Windows. Fortunately, you can also have registry settings set from a .bat file by means of a registry file. We had prepared configuration files such as server.xml and copied them to the correct folder after the installation.

XDA

XDA is the tool to perform xCP deployments. The installation of this is not such a problem, for that only a zip file has to be extracted. Fortunately, the configuration of all servers, endpoints and accounts is nowadays also possible by means of a yaml file. The last step, however, publishing the environment is a step that unfortunately cannot be automated. We really had to do this manually in the browser.

The result

The result was unbelievably good. During the manual installation, it took us at least three days to install and configure everything. With the automated installation, this was reduced to five hours! And of those five hours, most of the time was spent waiting for the scripts to finish their work. However, the aim of the automated installation was not only to reduce time, but also to improve quality. This was perhaps the biggest gain yet. There were far fewer mistakes made during the installations and all environments are exactly the same.

Technical tips & tricks

During our research we have come across a number of things that others may also encounter.

Waiting for result

A batch file normally proceeds to the next step without waiting for the result. To avoid this you can use the “Start” command, for example:

start /w serverSetup.exe -f “D:\install\cs-install-params-dev.properties”

It then waits to execute the following commands until serverSetup.exe is completely finished.

Run as administrator

Pay attention to which installations you perform as an administrator and which not. Some installations will fail if you run them as an administrator (like the docbase) and some require them to be run as an administrator (like tomcat or xplore).

The most annoying are installations that consist of several steps and that have to be performed in a mixed way. Powershell is a solution for this. You can call powershell from a batch file as admin (-Verb RunAs)

Install Dars

You prefer to install Dars automatically. This can be done by means of ComposerHeadless with an xml file and a batch file that eventually calls it. Examples of this can be found in the Documentum documentation.

Extracting zip files

Sometimes a zip file needs to be extracted. For example, we needed that to install the JDK. 7-zip has a command-line option that can be used to automatically extract zip files to a location.

Ready for an automatic Documentum installation

All in all, automatic installations for Documentum are highly recommended. The preparation time may be slightly longer than with a normal installation, but you will win back that time. Moreover, the quality of your installation is a lot higher. Want to know more about an automatic Documentum installation? We like to explain it personally and take the practice as an example.

Want to know more about Automatic Documentum Installations?

“After the manual installation during the first LCM project, we decided in consultation with Informed Group to automate the installation during the follow-up project. This was the right decision; in fact, the automated installation resulted in a shorter installation time and increased the quality of the installation. This reduced the chance of errors and ensured that all environments were delivered in exactly the same way.”

MUNICIPALITY OF AMSTERDAM

  • Automatic Documentum installations

About the Author: Martijn van Doesselaar

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