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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS test environment in Technical; Hi I have been working in the Education sector for a year now and I am still amazed that SIMS ...
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    KWestos's Avatar
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    SIMS test environment

    Hi

    I have been working in the Education sector for a year now and I am still amazed that SIMS does not have a test environment. I used to work for local government and all the systems I looked after had at least 2 if not 3 instances of a system, i.e. LIVE, TEST, DEVELOPMENT. If I want to have a test environment is it ok for me to copy the database and setup a test environment. Or do Capita have a module for doing this. Also, if I do will the powers that be render my contract as invalid.

    Many thanks

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Im pretty sure you are allowed to have more than one isntall of sims

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    maniac's Avatar
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    Not sure about SIMS, but SERCO let you do it with their facility product. We had an upgraded laptop running the full CMIS program, eportal etc on its own local database which we used for testing their upgrades before we rolled it out onto the live system, and it was very useful to have.

    The only thing you'll need for definite is another license for SQL server, as you'll be running a new instance of it, however I got Serco facility working on SQL Express which is the free cut down version of SQL server, so that might work for SIMS as well if you're lucky!

    Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-Greatermanchester View Post
    Im pretty sure you are allowed to have more than one isntall of sims
    But is he allowed 2 copies of the data? And what sort of precautions does he have to take with that data? DPA

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    sahmeepee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KWestos View Post
    I have been working in the Education sector for a year now and I am still amazed that SIMS does not have a test environment.
    SIMS can be much more amazing than that!

    If I want to have a test environment is it ok for me to copy the database and setup a test environment. Or do Capita have a module for doing this.
    It's not quite as simple as setting up the test environment unfortunately. Typically you might want to test in 2 different scenarios I would guess:

    1. You want to try doing something to your data like run one of the SIMS routines and you're scared of breaking it.

    In this scenario, you will need to use the sims dbattach tool to detach the database and handle the migration of SIMS accounts (from the master db).

    You can then use the backup dbattach has made to restore onto your test system.

    You would also be wise to copy across the contents of your server's SIMS directory (in particular SIMS\Snova\ and SIMS\setups\, but I would shift the lot for safety's sake)

    You also need to find out where your document management server stores its files and shift all that over too. Be aware that when you've migrated the data over, the test system will still be pointing at your live docstorage (e.g. liveserver:8080 so you'll need to change that in SIMS settings)

    That's about it for scenario 1.

    2. You want to try running an update or a new major version on a test system because they always break something in the program or in the client install routine.

    This can be tricky, because Capita keep track of whether you've downloaded and installed each update, so if you were to go ahead and install the latest update on your test server it would no longer be available to download on your live server. You have 2 options.

    • Run the update on your test server then contact Capita and get them to reauthorise the update when you want to put it on the live server. (Easier, but potentially slower method.)
    • Run SOLUS on your test server, but tell it to only do a download, not an update. Copy the installers from SIMS\setups\{long string of characters}\ to a safe location. Run SOLUS on your test server and tell it to run the already-downloaded updates. When it comes time to run the updates on your live server you can copy them into SIMS\setups\ and run them manually using dbupgrade. This method is more under your control, but also more prone to error as you're no longer relying on SOLUS to run things correctly.


    Also, if I do will the powers that be render my contract as invalid.
    They don't mind from my experience as long as you're only using it for testing. We've certainly been very open with them about it and they seemed cool with it. People discuss it quite openly on the SupportNet forums as well.

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    We do monitor upgrades to see how well upgrades are going. There's no probem from a contractual point of view in creating a test system.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KWestos View Post
    If I want to have a test environment is it ok for me to copy the database and setup a test environment.
    Run your SIMS server on a virtual machine system of your choice, then when you want to try something take a snapshot of the appropriate VM's disk images and try stuff out on those - create a new virtual machine if you like.

    --
    David Hicks

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