Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are enterprise software details accessible to the average joe?

The post where I bashed an enterprise security software vendor because it wasn't possible to obtain technical information on their products without leaving personal information, and going through the sales channel, got me a lot of e-mails. Well, I wasn't exactly right. I discovered that other vendors in the SIEM industry follow similar standards and don't provide much information, except a feature list, without requiring visitors to register first. Even one product which is spun off from an open source project seems to do the same ! And no, I won't tell their names explicitly this time as I don't want this post to end up on Twitter and get blown out of proportion again. This blog is named Technocrat-UX, not Cranky-UX.

Having used lots of infrastructure security software over the years, where I never had any trouble getting an idea of what these product did exactly, all in a discipline where disclosure is paramount, I was surprised by the way SIEM products are presented. They're in their right to do it that way, but to me, a website is like a store, and if it makes me feel like I've just crossed the door of a very special car dealer instead of my corner Toyota dealership, my interest wanes quickly. Maybe it's just me. After all, I'm a Unix guy.

Perhaps companies that sell products based on business requirements, rather than technical requirements, have a modus operandi I'm not familiar with? Maybe they're, justifiably so, only targeting people with a business education instead of a scientific one? This is possible. So let's check. I've assembled a list of six "Enterprise" software products, and spent 15 minutes checking their websites to see if they have information relevant for a systems administrator. I've voluntarily excluded Open Source software since that wouldn't have been very fair. I also excluded HP software, as I've accumulated 10 years experience of searching through their web maze.

This is way, way, far from thorough. But here are my quick results.


  • Oracle 11g: Has lots of information freely available, and documentation is free to access.
  • IBM DB2: Same as Oracle. Even better arranged than Oracle, with technical documentation easy to access.

Enterprise Content Management:

  • Opentext Document Management: I need to register just to see a spec sheet. Yuck.
  • EMC Documentum: I was curious about EMC, since they also make kickass hardware and own VMware, but for Documentum I also need to register to see info. DoubleYuck.

ITIL-related service request systems:

  • CA Service Desk: I wasn't expecting much from CA but I was pleasantly surprised. They have lots of info, and access to manuals is free. I'll see CA differently from now on.
  • BMC Remedy Service Desk: Information is passable, and manuals are not available.


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