System & Database Maintenance Best Practices

Enterprise content management and business process automation platforms are important technology investments that help your business run faster and at a lower cost. But over time, these systems and databases need to be updated and maintained to ensure optimal performance – and prevent costly downtime. RPI Consultants has deep technical experience with ERP, ECM, and BPM products and solutions. In this webinar we share our system and database maintenance best practices.

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Transcript

John Marney:

Hello and thank you for joining us for another RPI Consultants Webinar Wednesdays. today our topic is system and database maintenance best practices. These are recommendations that apply broadly to just about any application. However, we have pulled this information from our knowledge and experience across the Perceptive, Kofax, and Hyland products.

So first, let’s take a look at our upcoming webinars schedule. Today we actually have two more webinars. At one o’clock central we have Perceptive Experience Content Apps. This afternoon, Mike and I will be back with you discussing strategies on how you can migrate your enterprise content and data into the cloud. That’s going to be a really good one, so please join us for that. Next month we have a Kofax themed webinar series, what’s new in Kofax TotalAgility 7.6, in the morning on November 6th, and in the afternoon talking about what’s new in Kofax ReadSoft Online. Both have had major updates recently.

If you haven’t joined us for our office hours, that’s a little bit different kind of webinar where we take a deep dive into a more technical topic. Those are on the third week of the month. So, Friday, October 16th, I can read that, Perceptive Content application plans and then in November we have a deep dive in the Perceptive Experience.

So many of you probably already know us, but my name is John Marney, I’m the Manager of Solution Delivery at RPI. I oversee our Content and Process Automation practice. That’s us. I’ve been the Software Automation Architect for around 10 years now, and I don’t take it lightly, but I call myself an AP Automation guru so please feel free to reach out about your AP automation needs.

Michael Madsen:

Hello, I’m Michael Madsen. I’m a Lead Consultant with the RPI office, primarily work with Brainware and Perceptive Content solutions dealing with back office and higher education. Also, the office Dungeon Master so we’ll roll this off with an initiative check.

John Marney:

So our agenda today, we’re going to actually break down our recommendations based on different types of applications, different types of servers. So, you have your application, your web, your database, talk a little bit about disaster recovery planning, and then we’ll take your questions. That said, feel free to toss your questions into go to webinar at any time and we will be sending a recording out of this webinar to everybody.

So first let’s talk about application servers. This is your primary application, so things like Perceptive Content or ImageNow server, your OnBase app server, Brainware, et cetera.

Michael Madsen:

So, first thing we’ll talk about is just some best practices around installation. So obviously, some things you’re to going to want to check are just your hardware specifications around what the software requires, any installation dependencies that you’re going to need to put together before installing the software.

So, a good example with that is if I have a Perceptive Content server installation package that I’m trying to run through, there are going to be some .net installations that I need to run through. The Perceptive Content installer will try to install those, but a lot of the times a service security won’t allow it to go through so a lot of that stuff you need to check beforehand.

John Marney:

So, most of the time you can install all of those dependencies via the features and rolls on a Windows server. We definitely recommend doing that before you ever run the application installer.

You usually want to run installers as an administrator and you want to run them locally. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking this is what we recommend. And when I say locally what I’m really saying is don’t run it off of a network file share. Occasionally if you try to…whenever you run an installer it has to unpack files locally anyways and if you do that over the network you risk a small drop in your network activity and you lose files, and that install will fail. I’ve seen this repeatedly so I recommend copying it at local to the server before you run it.

Michael Madsen:

And then you also want to check your configurations between different business applications you may want to connect to or communicate with and verify that your network security pads are set up correctly because you could test something in a local drive but then when you switch it over to your shared network, everything breaks just because you didn’t check that security beforehand.

John Marney:

And much of what you want to check with your network paths is the account that runs the services for this application, does it have access to what it needs to have access to? And so that is part of the reason why we recommend you configure any services to run under a specific service account. So, passwords can expire so that permissions can change suddenly. It is just a industry wide best practice.

So next we’ll talk about some more maintenance. This is throughout the life of your application, things that you should be doing continually.

The first thing is you want to begin rotating your object storage. So, in Perceptive, this is your OSMs. In OnBase, this is your disk groups. You want to make sure that these are kept in smaller, more manageable chunks for easier archival and for retention management.

Michael Madsen:

Yeah, and then you also just want to be sure that you’re always cleaning up your log directories and your temp files. So, specifically with Perceptive Content, there are some things that run to zip up all of your log files in the morning, however, there isn’t always something that cleans up those zip files. So, you may go into the log directory thinking that you’re getting everything cleaned up every day when in reality you still have all of these zip files building up over years and years because nobody’s taken a look at the directory. So, it’s a good idea to put together some batch files that are linked in with a scheduled task or something like that that you can run on a schedule to make sure that everything’s clean and moving forward.

John Marney:

So Perceptive actually handles log cleanup more gracefully than a lot of applications do so you want to make sure that you’re not accruing a ton of disk space usage over time. And there are things like scripts, exports, system integrations that can store temporary image files or data on your server that you want to make sure get cleaned up as well so as to not unnecessarily accrue that.

Michael Madsen:

Also keeping an eye on those directories may point you towards some kind of leak or a failure inside of a script. So even if you’re not necessarily running into size restrictions or something like that, it might be just a good indicator to other issues.

John Marney:

On top of this, you want to actually check those log files for those kinds of failures. You could have something that is built out when you first implement and is fully tested and it works great for years, but it could be doing some sort of silent failures that don’t actually impact the business but impact you technically. And so checking your log files to make sure that what is supposed to be happening is happening is very important.

You also want to perform, on top of that, health checks on your response times and your system performance. So again, you may implement and be great for years, but many system performance issues don’t happen suddenly. They happen because of an accrual of poor practices over time and your users may not notice until one day you start receiving calls about people can’t log in or there’s errors popping up, what have you. You can help to mitigate that by checking your response times and your performance throughout the life of the product.

Michael Madsen:

Yeah, and there are a lot of third-party programs too that you can utilize to help you do that so that it’s not just all on your shoulders.

John Marney:

One thing specifically, we included a slide for high availability specifically for your application server because this is really important for user access and for disaster recovery and for other reasons as well. So high availability is referring to the ability to have, generally speaking, multiple active servers so that if a specific node or instance goes down or becomes unavailable, that users still have access to the application.

Michael Madsen:

Yeah, it’s one thing if Dev or Sandbox goes down,