FirstDoc User Group 2011 – a look back at the conference – Part 3

Previous post: FirstDoc User Group 2011 – a look back at the conference – Part 2

In Part 2 of the FDUG 2011 series, I described some business case presentations that a couple of CSC’s customers gave, and also talked about CSC’s “Total Regulatory Solutions”. In this post, we’ll cover some of the sessions that took place in the later part of the day – CSC’s IT Strategy (including their foray into the Cloud, and their User Interface Strategy); Performance; the “User session” and the Social Event.

Note – in the afternoon there were two “double” sessions. That is there were 2 timeslots where there were double sessions. I had to make a choice – and so wasn’t able to attend CSC’s Integration session, or a presentation on an sucessful upgrade project.

Cloud

“Everyone is doing cloud” and so are CSC.

However in the Life Sciences arena, there is still a lot of hesitation about using the cloud.

Pharma companies operate under the regulatory guidelines (21CFR Part11) of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), as well as those of other regulatory bodies (European Medicines Agency (EMEA), etc). Remaining compliant is of the utmost importance for these companies. And as with any other industry, the main concerns are to do with: security and availability.

From what I can see, CSC have tried to address these concerns, and offer three IaaS models:

Off Premise

  1. Public Cloud, with all the advantages a public cloud offers – at CSC Data Centers
  2. Private Cloud, to give dedicated access – at CSC Data Centers

On Premise

3. Private Cloud – behind the client’s firewall.

These are all built on Vblocks, a technology that combines VMWare, Cisco and EMC technology, spread across 12 data centers spread across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

To address the security concerns, the Security Framework for “CSC Trusted Cloud” is touted as covering a plethora of security points. These fall under the following categories: Access Control, Physical Security, Logical Security (the separation and isolation of client data, etc), and (as option) Data Integrity.

At the same time, compliance to 21CFR Part11 requires three primary components: the Installation Qualification (IQ) – that records contains a complete set of detailed information on the hardware environment, the underlying software (from OS to application) and instructions on how to install the system from out of the box; the Operational Qualification (OQ) – that proves that the system is operating correctly, and the Performance Qualification (PQ) that indicates that the system is performing correctly to meet the stated user requirements.

CSC are planning to use their Cloud model as a basis for delivering their Managed Services solution. The also aim to deliver IQ, and OQ, out-of-the box. This’ll be a great advantage for Pharma companies. They only have to worry about the PQ. This allows the benefits of the cloud to be realised, while remaining compliant.

User Interface Strategy

Currently CSC offers two interfaces for their FirstDoc product.

  1. They makes use of Documentum’s native client – Webtop – and adds their own “compliance logic” to it.
  2. SPX web parts – these are specially developed SharePoint web parts that expose (most of) the FirstDoc functionality, and allow users to interact with documents in a Documentum docbase.
Check this out:
Killa Hertz & The Case of the Missing Documents – Part 8

EMC has announced that they will be retiring Webtop. CSC UI strategy addresses this.

xCP

EMC have released xCP (xCelerated Composition Platform). This is a new technology that they have developed that offers for quick application development, through configuration rather than coding. (EMC have written a white paper on xCP that you can download).

EMC released xCP to the world a couple of years ago with much fanfare. At the time they were promoting as a technology for “case management”. Since then, they have changed their message, and now promote xCP to be “the” interface solution.

The current version of xCP is 1.5. EMC will be bringing out version 2.0 which will still focus on Case Based applications, but CSC have been invited to be involved with version 2.1. They plan to assess the gap between FirstDoc requirements and xCP version 2.0 capabilities so that they can  contribute suitable requirements.

SPX

CSC plan to continue supporting SPX. SPX stands for SharePoint eXperience and, as mentioned above includes specially designed webparts that can be placed on a SharePoint web site, and allow the users to interact with FirstDocs docbases.

SPX has come a long way since the initial release. CSC’s goal is to close the gap between the functionality available in SPX and that in Webtop. They are not quite there yet, but are getting very close.

While xCP will allow developers to easily create an user interface, SPX has the benefit of being very flexible. The web parts can be dragged easily to different places on the web page, allowing a Portal to be built that matches the way users want to work.

While working on part4 of this series, I noticed a CSC job advertisement for a Senior Product S/W Developer. Looking at the job functions, as well as the qualifications required, it looks like CSC are ramping up their SPX resources.

Performance

As I mentioned in an earlier post (FDUG – Europe – Review of the Agenda), this is one session that I was really looking forward to.

It turned out to be a presentation from one of CSC’s clients, (presented by Bill Meier), outlining what testing that they had done to improve the performance of the FirstDoc system.

This involved some very comprehensive testing. Special environments were set up, and load, and measurement, applications were used to try and determine where the bottlenecks were in the system.

From this came a series of “Corrective Actions”, which were very interesting. I thank the company that provided this information (you know who you are).

User Session

The last session of the day was the User Session. This is where all the CSC staff leave the room, and the users get to really discuss what they find good about CSC, and where CSC could make improvements. This is a half hour event, but it actually went on a lot longer than that.

Check this out:
SPX Series - A little bit of history

As always, in the beginning, only one or two compliments, or criticisms are forthcoming, but as always, once the ball starts rolling, the discussion picks up some speed.

During this time, one of the FDUG steering committed (made up of three people from CSC customer base), records the comments.

Normally the next day, the users have a chance to present these to CSC, and give more detail. It’s not a witch hunt, and, I congratulate CSC on giving their clients an opportunity to give them feedback like this.  However, the real test is what they do with the feedback…

Social Event

At about 7pm everyone met in the foyer of the hotel. I had a chance to chat with Christoph Langebner, a senior accout executive at CSC. Chris is a very friendly guy, whom I met at last years EMC’s Momentum in Lisbon.  Back then he was an expecting father, and a bit nervous about it. Now he’s no longer expecting, and no longer nervous.

The entire troop then marched off to a local restaurant “Huth Gewirtschaft“, which I have read is rate No. 4 out of 1034 restaurants in Vienna.  It was a very nice meal, and I found myself sitting opposite Franciska Darmer, a LS Solution Specialist at CSC. (Danish, but living in Florence, Italy – “just for the fun of it”). I was also sitting next to some very interesting people from a couple of different Pharma companies, and at one stage, we all got into an interesting (and friendly) debate over the value of the “electronic signature”. Always interesting to see what other opinions are.

After dinner, the group traipsed off to find a good watering hole. I regret that I didn’t join them…

In Part 4, I’ll discuss the events of the second day.

Next Post: FirstDoc User Group 2011 – a look back at the conference – Part 4