Cloning a Live Perceptive Content Environment
As part of an ImageNow upgrade project, an additional Test or parallel environment may need to be established. Most commonly this takes the form of a Test environment after a Pre-Production to Production environment cutover during Go-Live. There are several ways to set up a parallel Perceptive Content environment, but to maintain consistency between all environments, cloning a set of recently-upgraded servers is an option to consider. Cloning servers also has the added benefit of minimizing the amount of software installation and setup time needed for the new environment.
Alternatively, a new non-Prod environment can be installed from scratch to mirror an upgraded Production environment. It is important to assess risks that may be introduced during an environment clone – environmental pointers, licensing, and other solution components need to be considered carefully to avoid impacting the Production environment, as described in the “Cloned Server Reconfiguration” section of this article.
When a Perceptive Content environment is cloned, all iScript references, database ODBC pointers, etc. are all cloned along with it. To prevent a cloned Perceptive Content environment from impacting its master image (such as a live Prod environment), these references will need to be disabled or otherwise deactivated before the cloned servers are joined back to the domain, or else some form of parallel Production processing is likely to occur.
There are generally two methods to go about this:
Clone the Production virtual machines and immediately disable the network adapters temporarily in the cloned images to avoid their attaching to the domain unintentionally. Access the servers via the Virtual Machine host or management console and update all pointers away from Production counterparts prior to enabling the network adapters and joining the servers back to the domain. This is generally the preferred and recommended cloning method.
Schedule downtime (generally 1 hour) to purposefully sever major connection points within the Production environment, clone the Production servers while Perceptive Content is disabled, and then revert all disabled pointers and bring the environment back online gracefully to full capacity.
In the event the servers must be cloned during downtime, the following procedure will take place:
Shut down all ImageNow services and scheduled tasks across the Production environment (those on the core Application Server and any remote servers).
Disable the ImageNow Server service and scheduled tasks.
Open the ODBC Connection Manager and alter the ImageNow/Perceptive Content data source to point to “localhost” or another non-database server.
Optional: Alter any environmental-specific jobs that may be importing/exporting data from the server external to ImageNow.
Clone the Production servers.
Once completed, revert the ODBC data source back to the ImageNow/Perceptive Content database server and re-enable all scheduled tasks and services.
Bring the Production ImageNow services and servers online and ensure full connectivity.
Alter all ODBC, script, etc. references in the cloned servers while disabled to necessary non-Prod counterparts. See the “Cloned Server Reconfiguration” section for more information.
Cloned Server Reconfiguration
Once the cloned servers are accessible, all major environmental connection points will need to be reviewed and likely updated, including:
ODBC connections to Perceptive Content and other external databases.
iScript references to Perceptive Content and other external databases.
iScript references to non-local shared drives or network locations.
Removing Production (or other environment) licenses from the database, and relicense the environment according to assets purchased from Lexmark.
OSM references in the database, if not local to the server (IN_OSM_TREE_FSS or IN_OSM_TREE_CAS table).
New Environment Considerations
Depending on the intended use of the cloned environment (a Test environment, for example), there may be additional considerations that need to be made regarding data availability:
OSM data to be copied to the new environment (if a full copy of the cloned OSM will not be available). Generally, the most recent past 30 days of OSM objects are sufficient for most testing cases.
Non-Prod external database counterparts for any scripting that may be performing data lookups or alterations that should not interact with Production databases.
Non-Prod network shares for document import/export, if applicable.
Non-Prod service accounts used to run ImageNow services or scheduled tasks to best mirror Production configurations and/or access files located on network shares.
Non-Prod email account inbox configurations, if applicable (for use with the Perceptive Content Email Agent).
Note: Further considerations may need to be made regarding additional software that may be in place in the cloned environment. Please contact a Shamrock Solutions resource to review any questions or concerns.
Jordan Wengler, Manager of Technical Services