The jump from previous Autonomy (news, site) WorkSite 8.x builds to Autonomy Worksite 8.5 is huge. With the initial release of 8.5 and a series of updates, including a service pack, the product has undergone many important changes. In fact, there are so many changes in this release that it really begs a more appropriate version, i.e. 9.0.
Don’t let the measly .5 trick you. This upgrade will require a significant investment in time and monetary resources. In this two part article, I’ll run through each component, and explain new features and considerations to be aware of before you make your decision.
One thing to keep in mind while reading this article is that I am writing this from the perspective of using WorkSite 8.5 SP1. Some of the new features and fixes are only available with that fix applied.
The flagship product from Autonomy’s WorkSite family is WorkSite Server. Everything starts with this product, and most of the new features in 8.5 affect the backend server architecture. As with any major software release, the core server product requires retooling to support new features.
One thing you won’t get with an upgrade to 8.5 on the backend is a new interface for the administration tools. The only thing that has changed is the splash screens. The real changes are all under the hood. Some of those features are:
- Supports Autonomy IDOL, which will be touched on in Part 2
- The ability to include file date metadata when importing new documents from Windows
- Supports Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 (SP1)
- Supports SQL Server 2008
- Supports Autonomy Digital Safe (SP1), FileShare and Workflow Manager
As with most WorkSite upgrades, you’re going to have to upgrade your database schema to fully enable all new available features. Although the upgrade is not rocket science, I don’t recommend going through with it until you’ve consulted with someone who’s done it in production.
This is also a good time to consider virtualizing all of your server components. Support for virtualization is not necessarily new with WorkSite, but Autonomy now openly supports virtualization for all components, including IDOL.
WorkSite Communications Server/EMM Client
The Comm server and e-mail management client (EMM) allow users to file e-mail in various ways to WorkSite. For instance, you can configure EMM to automatically file an outgoing e-mail message to WorkSite after sending from Outlook. You can also attach “luggage tags” to e-mail messages, so that WorkSite can try to automatically file it to the appropriate WorkSite folder when replies hit your Inbox. Some of the new features in 8.5 include:
- Status columns in Outlook so you can see where an e-mail has been filed in WorkSite
- Server-side filing of e-mail to eliminate bottlenecks in Outlook/Exchange
- The ability to automatically sync mailbox folders in Exchange to WorkSite folders
- Brand new Outlook task pane UI for EMM that replaces the toolbar (SP1 + Outlook 2007)
- Supports multiple Exchange servers for e-mail filing
- Supports Windows Server 2008 R2
- Supports Exchange 2010
Had I have written this article a few months ago, this server/client product would have been the reason that I would have warned against upgrading. Prior to the recent SP1 release, there were many critical bugs affecting both the server and client products, some of which were show stoppers.
The difficulty here is that this product provides a lot of the more refreshing features for end users, and it’s not easy to take something away once it has been deployed. My recommendation here is to thoroughly test performance before even showing it to end users.
Trust me; they will not want to part with it once they start using it. But since the advent of SP1, the product has been a lot more reliable, and will deliver if you carefully plan your deployment.
Although WorkSite Web is losing ground to more popular web-based solutions, like SharePoint, it will continue to receive updates with the others. The irony here is that many of the bug fixes and updates for Web 8.5 are geared towards SharePoint integration with WorkSite.
Other than a cleaner interface with new icons, WorkSite Web now fully operates in 64-bit mode. It’s actually the only component, other than IDOL, that runs in 64-bit. Other than that there really isn’t anything else of note for this product. As I said, it will continue to receive fixes, but I don’t anticipate any groundbreaking stuff here anytime soon.
There's More to Worksite 8.5
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article where I will show you what’s new for FileSite, DeskSite and OffSite. I’ll also talk about Autonomy’s IDOL indexer and how 3rd party add-ins will affect your decision to upgrade to 8.5. I’ll wrap it up with my bottom line recommendation on upgrading to this significant release.