September 15, 2011

Partner of the month: VIZIM Worldwide, Inc.

Integration
Vizim

This article is part of a series about Perforce's integration and technology partners. The subject of this article, VIZIM Worldwide, offers consulting and other services for Perforce and other technologies. Perforce has its own consulting team, but VIZIM providers services and expertise for a broader spectrum of problems. Expect to see future articles in this series about once a month.

Background

VIZIM Worldwide, Inc. provides the techniques and tools that allow organizations to recover efficiencies that have been lost due to growth or changes in infrastructure.

Tell us a little bit about your company and your services

A primary specialization is migration and consolidation of source control systems. These are always apples to oranges activities. Success is highly dependent on experience. We have successfully completed more than 100 full history migrations of ClearCase, VSS (Visual Source Safe), and SVN (Subversion) repositories to Perforce.

We recently expanded our offerings to include Infrastructure Configuration Management (ICM). ICM techniques and technologies deal with data center management and visualization. It is a relatively new area providing practical implementations to support ITIL and other standards while providing a cost effective alternative to traditional CMDB based solutions.

What key technical problems do you specialize in?

VSS migrations and recovery have been a very active area for us. Although VSS has a reputation for data corruptions most repositories have myriad other more subtle problems involving time, name consistency and action sequencing. From negative version numbers to files created in the future our tools have not encountered a VSS repository that we couldn't migrate. And of course we deal with shares, deleted yet recoverable files and labels.

In the ICM area we deal with the automated generation of accurate up-to-date Visio diagrams covering all aspects of data center management.

Our proprietary migration tools provide us with full history capabilities that are not generally available. In particular our incremental migration capabilities provide relief to most of the time dependence and resource sequencing pressures that occur in typical migration projects.

Who do you work with the most when visiting a customer – administrators, managers, developers?

It depends on the project and the customer's organizational structure. The important part is to always involve those who are making the key decisions relative to the techniques and technologies associated with the project.

Describe a typical engagement with a customer.

Every engagement starts with a discussion or series of discussions that result in a written description of the tasks to be performed, the expected outcome from those tasks, a schedule, a delegation of responsibilities and an itemization of any specific deliverables. However, there is nothing "typical" about this paperwork. From NDAs to contracts no two customers have ever required the same set of paperwork.

Most of our non-migration projects take less than a week. After the paperwork there are preliminary exchanges to formalize an on-site session. From training to migrations, VIZIM operates on the basis of knowledge transfer. The impact of face-to-face interactions during an on-site session has no effective online equivalent.

For migration projects we engage key individuals early in the process. They need to make informed decisions but they don't usually have the required exposure to Perforce. Many of these projects start with one or two days of highly focused on-site training and technology discussions. After that most migration projects can be managed remotely.

In your experience as a professional services provider, what are the biggest challenges faced when trying to implement effective version control in a modern development environment?

To most people version control is an obvious concept that they haven't given much thought. If they are unhappy with their current environment anything but what they currently have looks better - even if they haven't used it. This often leads to decisions that are based on emotion or biased by the features and characteristics of specific tools. Implementations based on this type of decision process rarely achieve objectives beyond the current phase of the current project.

Equally problematic are projects that try to be cost or time efficient by skipping the "easy stuff". Implementations require a solid foundation. Even if it takes a few hours, be sure everyone agrees on the basics and have them in writing. More often than not there is considerable variation in what people expect the most basic procedure to accomplish. If this level of ambiguity doesn't lead to outright failure it will certainly complicate the discussion of more complex topics.