ECM Technology “Why It’s so Rewarding”

Sometimes I wonder why we work in technology. I have decided that I work in the technology sector for two reasons, ‘Aha’ moments and doing cool stuff. Obviously there are projects and times that I would prefer doing something a little less stressful and time consuming but I believe the ‘Aha’ moments and creative solutions we come up with make up for it. As a systems engineer it is a pretty good feeling after a large project that revamps the way a company does business – for the better. Of course every project is filled with its share of ‘Aha’ moments.

When I am referring to ‘Aha’ moments I am talking about that feeling that comes when you figure something out. Whether it is big or small, getting to the bottom of something is always nice. It can be really frustrating when you’re in the trenches stepping through issues from beginning to end trying to determine where the problem is, but solving an issue normally makes up for all that time that felt wasted. Solving an issue when you already know the resolution is OK, but it’s not nearly as nice figuring something out for the first time. I don’t play soduko or do crossword puzzles but perhaps that is because I get my fill of that sort of mental exercise at work. Sometimes after a week on the road getting my fill of ‘Aha’ moments I don’t want to have to use my brain for as long as possible.

Earlier when I said ‘doing cool stuff’ I wasn’t referring to the travelling or going to vendor sponsored events. I really enjoy creating and implementing innovative solutions for our customers. I remember when I started in this industry and we were doing a conversion project do digitize all the architectural drawings for all the state managed bridges in Washington. We were scanning the aperture cards, and then ran the images through this software that converted them so they could be imported into CAD. Call me a geek, but I thought that was cool at the time. In more recent years I have been involved in designing and implementing Business Process Management solutions. I still find myself thinking the processes and solutions I am implementing are cool. Call me a geek, some of my customers do.

That’s enough of my opinions as to why we (or at least I) work in technology. I will now use this soap-box to make a few comments to all the VM administrators out there. Please give us more resources! I feel like I am back in the dark ages with all these servers I am given to work with that have 1GB of RAM and a single 15GB HDD. I understand the want or need to put as many VMs on a box as possible, but I really believe applications are suffering. If the application is suffering, users are suffering and that normally affects the bottom line. I really dislike going live with a solution and to have blatant ‘Out-of-Memory’ errors causing the application to crash. One thing I have found is that we have to now prove our applications require more resources, the easiest way to do this is with Windows Performance Monitor. This is an extra step, really the server administrator’s job, and a waste of valuable SE time, but it is a reality these days. Rather than re-invent the wheel and describe PerfMon to you please go to the below link.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.08.pulse.aspx?pr=blog

The biggest problems I have been seeing have been with disk performance; disk performance is of the utmost importance because everything relies upon it. Note to VM guys, watch your disk usage and watch out for hotspots on the SAN. If you don’t know what a hotspot is, learn. If the Disk Queue is too high, the next thing you now you are at 100% CPU utilization and nothing will work. I have seen lots of memory issues as well, all due to the lack of resources allocated to the server. I understand that people say the VM host will allocate more memory to a server if it needs it, why then is that not what I am seeing in real world scenarios. Just remember, when your application is having problems, it is up to you to prove that the problem isn’t with your application. Sound strange, it can be.

John Linehan
Sr. Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

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  • in ECM
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  • August 14, 2009