By Cameron Kaley, Senior Systems Engineer
Making sure your IBM Case Manager solution deployment goes smoothly has everything to do with guaranteeing that you accounted for all the variables.
The last thing you want when you finally make the move to production is for your users to show up Monday morning to a system that behaves differently than the one you just certified in TEST.
While we often have kinks to work out between DEVELOPMENT and TESTING, we usually don’t have the time to address those same issues a second time when making the final move. And if your DEV and TEST environments are one in the same then the move to PRODUCTION (PROD) becomes even more challenging.
There are two tools that I find to be invaluable when deploying a Case Manager solution and are some of the simplest to create and maintain.
The first is a Case Manager deployment matrix.
This simple document or spreadsheet keeps track of everything you should account for to ensure that whatever environment you migrate to has everything your solution needs.
Do you use search templates?
Is there a marking set you need to update?
Are there widgets that have configuration values that need to be set up?
Anything that resides outside of the solution or that you have to configure post-deployment should be in your deployment matrix.
The matrix does not need to be pretty, I usually just create an Excel spreadsheet and categorize things based on where they reside within the environment (i.e. necessary plugins, config files etc.). The link takes you to an example of IBM’s matrix for installing or upgrading IBM P8. An organization may find it beneficial to create a standardized template.
Failure to create and follow your matrix will result in you scrambling to correct problems. While it is not such a big deal when going from DEV to TEST, PROD migrations are usually time sensitive and have expectant users coming in the next morning. Forgetting to make a change that results in the wrong data being returned from a search or automated email messages failing because something was not configured right, will have users questioning why you made the switch to this new technology.
The second is a Case Manager test solution.
It is surprising to me how often I see Case Manager solutions migrated to production only to have everything go to an error queue for easily-avoidable reasons. If your workflow will send out emails or make a database call, you need reassurance beforehand that the SMTP server is properly configured and that the credentials you use to access databases, web services and other vital resources have sufficient access in production.
To ensure that things go according to plan, I advise that you create a simple solution that touches on the functionality contained in the solution you ultimately plan to put before your users. This solution can be comprised of simple tasks that you manually launch such as send test emails, validate a connection to a database or web service, or leverage a new component. A single page that provides access to all the widgets you plan to use will ensure that everything is accessible. The challenge is identifying those dependencies as you build your main solution, and making sure that a stripped down test of the functionality makes it into your test solution.
The test solution should contain the most basic functionalities while accounting for all internal and external dependencies. The great thing is that you can modify and re-deploy the test solution again and again well in advance of any migration of your main solution. If your test solution is able to access all your internal and external dependencies then you can make that late-night move to production with more confidence that everything will go smoothly in the morning.
If deploying Case Manager is in your near future, a deployment matrix and test solution will be incredibly helpful in making the process smooth. Taking extra precautionary steps beforehand will pay off in the long run.
If you’re looking for more in-depth information, check out this Redbook we co-wrote with IBM: “Advanced Case Management With IBM Case Manager.” It is a practical guide for IT professionals responsible for designing, building, customizing and deploying Case Manager solutions.
About the Author: I have been at Pyramid Solutions for 14 months now. I work with clients to design and develop Case solutions and ICN plugins that address their organizational needs. Outside of work, I like to spend time with my wife and four children, and one day might find the time to finish writing the novel I started years ago.