Words like containerization and Docker can no longer be avoided in the world of IT. What does it really mean for your enterprise and how will it change your Documentum environments? Before diving into Documentum, let’s start off with a small overview on the meaning of containerization.
The concept of containers originates from the shipping industry, where they use containers to standardize the format of items being shipped to solve stacking issues. In the spirit of this concept, software containerization is created to satisfy the need of running software on any system independent of the underlying operating system. But it also protects against other software on the system. Every program runs in its own container and can only access external resources when they are configured.
What about virtualization?
You might be wondering that we already have virtualization software to perform these kinds of things. It’s true you can create separate virtual machines to get a similar effect, but there also are some serious drawbacks from virtualization. For example, hypervisors and virtual machines are heavy on resources that should be available to your software. Containers, however, only include the binaries that are necessary to run the program. When we think back to the shipping analogy, a container does not need an engine because it is transported by a ship. Can you imagine how many small ships it would take to transport all these containers separately?
Although there are multiple containerization systems available, Docker is the most well-known. Since the release in 2013, Docker immediately got a lot of attention in the open source communities and from companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
What does this mean for Documentum?
On Momentum Barcelona 2016, DELL EMC announced that Documentum will be supported on Docker as of version 7.3. A change was needed in the Documentum architecture to achieve this goal.
In previous versions, the Documentum binaries, configuration and data were intertwined in the installation. However, for a full containerization, this needed to be separated. This resulted in a very interesting and renewed architecture called “Stateless Documentum”. This architecture separates the data from the binaries and uses configuration to link them together. The major advantage is that this stateless design can be used to upgrade Documentum a lot faster.
As of Documentum 7.3, Docker images will be available for Documentum deployments. These images are the containers with the software binaries. This is not only applicable for the content server but for all other parts of Documentum like xPlore and xCP and D2 clients.
The next step
Running Docker images is one thing, but in an enterprise environment it is required to have a system that manages these images. This is where systems like Docker swarm and Kubernetes come into play. These systems manage the deployment of Docker images over clusters: distributing the containers over different nodes and restarting them on other nodes when one goes down. But it goes further than what we know from virtualization. These systems have the capabilities to monitor load and to automatically scale or spin up extra containers when a system is under heavy load. Both Swarm and Kubernetes are immediately supported and others will follow.
No need to panic
Does this mean we need to move fast and switch? Is server virtualization on its death bed? Of course not. Virtualization still makes a lot of sense and will be at the base of our data centers for years to come. Not everything fits in a shipping container and sometimes transport by cargo aircraft makes more sense. Transition is never easy but Documentum has the possibility to help you during that transition. As both server installations and Docker containers can run next to each other in the same environment, it’s been made possible for you to start moving components and even repositories one at a time.
We can conclude that Docker is disrupting the world of system administration and development. Documentum has become one of the early adopters of this platform for enterprise grade software. This has resulted in the biggest change for Documentum in the past few years while it also provides a lot of exciting and interesting new possibilities for its wide user group.
At Docbyte we assist organizations with their digital transformation challenges by providing smart archiving solutions. The possibility to use Documentum with Docker could significantly facilitate the administration and future upgrades. We have in-house expertise in the Documentum and Docker platforms and we even integrated these platforms into our own products and solutions. You can be assured that we at Docbyte can assist you in the implementation of Documentum and architectural choices including Docker. So, if you are in need of some help or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have a chat!