Ben Langhinrichs

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How long should it take to install and configure software?

Thu 18 Oct 2007, 05:13 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
It seems a common theme that IBM, Microsoft or another large software vendor releases some interesting piece of software, then acts completely nonplussed when developers object that the software takes 16 hours and two PhDs to install, if you can find the install instructions and if they are not in Chinese.  I have never understood why somebody doesn't think this is an objection to releasing the software in the first place, rather than scrambling (or often not scrambling) to fix the install woes after the facts.

But it would not be fair to object without subjecting my own products to the test.  So, for the first of a series of 
Two Minute Demos I am producing, I present CoexLinks: Working doclinks in Outlook in two minutes.  Please note that CoexLinks is corporate class software used on servers in many of the largest companies in the world.  Also, please note that I don't really expect you to install CoexLinks in two minutes.  Our customers tend to suggest that ten minutes is closer to the norm, but I wanted to show that this was merely due to a learning curve.  I'd love to hear any feedback or questions, either about the demo or CoexLinks.

P.S.  The demo is a flash demo, but if you prefer a smaller Windows media play file, it is 

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

632.1. Doug Finner
(10/18/2007 03:49 PM)

I don't recall the exact time to do the CoexLinks install when we were forced to switch from Notes mail to Exchange, but it couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes tops. Since the install, it just sits there and does its job. We were looking at a multi-month application rewrite/revalidation to either create Notes URLs or custom build NDL files and CoexLinks just made it work pretty much instantly. Saaaaaweeeeet!


632.2. Doug Finner
(10/18/2007 03:58 PM)

So in answer to your post title...

I've been tasked to bring up an MS Project server. Interesting learning experience.

2 servers running Win2k3.

Both servers run IIS.

MS SQLServer on 1 server to handle the db stuff. 2 DVDs required for the install plus a monster service pack.

MS Project Server on the other. I think this was a double DVD install too.

The Project server uses SharePoint services which are included as part of Win2K3 (we're not running the 'pay more money to use' Microsoft Office SharePoint Server MOSS).

Let's see. The experts tell us that a basic install and configuration will take about, ohhhh 3 days, and that's after you've spent a week working through the setup check lists.

We're not experts although we did bring in a consultant a couple of weeks back to check our setups and help move the boxen to our dmz.

We're still not fully on line and have been at this for a couple of months.

When we migrated Notes from 4.6 to 6.5 setting up the server took about 10 minutes (you know, that horridly complex installer, all on one CD?). It took a few hours for the dbs to replicate over. Maybe an hour of tweaking config docs. 10 minutes for CoexLinks... I think we were done in about 4 hours and had a two server cluster in production.

Tell me again why MS is such a good choice? I'm confused...


632.3. Julian Robichaux
(10/21/2007 06:43 AM)

I like it a lot. I had no idea it was that easy. A couple things:

1. It would be nice if there was some way to rewind the video, in case you miss something.

2. It might be good to have a small text box on the screen indicating what you're doing at each step ("Copy this file to the server program directory.", "Copy this text to the server's Notes.ini file.", etc.). I know all that stuff is on the checklist, but it might be good in context too.