The IPUP process: Providing you with upgrade options

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Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on cio.com.

When I started my career, I worked in technology consulting. I saw firsthand the pains that upgrading systems caused my customers.

The most memorable was a customer in Maryland. They shared with me a glimpse of their core system upgrade plan. The plan consisted of more than 500 steps of carefully choreographed SQL scripts and configuration activity.

I remember imagining the panic attack I would have if I had to go through all those steps. What if I missed one? Or did it in the wrong order?

To think this customer was going to upgrade one of their most important systems over a weekend. Going through the steps alone would take the entire weekend! A truly scary proposition.

Like many of the customers I used to work with, I now oversee all IT-related activities at my organization. In this role, I live with everyday risks that keep me up at night. Key among these risks are activities where we purposefully take systems off-line to upgrade or replace them.

During these moments, I feel the burden of my job the most. If my team fails to complete the task at hand, there’s the very real potential we will disrupt business. While I’m fortunate to have a great team that plans every detail, including roll-back plans, I’m grateful to every vendor that enables me to reduce risk at these times.

Benefits of an incremental parallel upgrade process

Among all my upgrade experiences, one stands above the rest – and that is OnBase by Hyland. And while OnBase is my employer, I’m speaking to you today as a customer of my company. After all, the risk of upgrading our own product is the same as upgrading any other.

Beyond simply helping me plan my upgrade, the product is designed to provide customers with an incremental parallel upgrade process (IPUP). What this process enables me to do, as the customer, is to perform my upgrade in a series of steps over weeks rather than hours, therefore reducing my risk – and the need to cram all of those actives into any given weekend.

With the IPUP process, I can upgrade my database server one weekend, a couple of application servers the next, and finish the remainder once I’m sure everything is working properly.

The best thing? It eliminates the possibility of a big bang event that causes me heartburn.

How to upgrade using IPUP

We recently used this approach with great success when we upgraded to the latest version of OnBase. Here’s how:

  • First, we upgraded our database server to the latest database schema. This allowed us to run a single application server to verify our integration points and reporting.
  • Next, we upgraded a single department – our test group – to the latest version of OnBase. We did this by segmenting the application servers that department used from those used by the rest of the company.
  • Finally, we upgraded the remainder of the business with full confidence, once the initial test group was operating without issue.

IPUP eases concerns on the business side

While this process certainly eases the concerns of many IT people, it also eases concerns on the business side, as well.

During our last upgrade cycle, we were planning the final upgrade just prior to our blackout window at the end of a quarter. This stressed a couple of my peers, who rely heavily on OnBase.

With the IPUP process, I reassured my peers that we had options to make them comfortable. We could either leave their users on the previous version of the application until the quarter closed or we could upgrade them with the rest of the company, keeping the previous application servers online as a fall-back plan.

In either event, I was absolutely confident we could meet their specific needs while still upgrading the majority of the company.

As I spent time preparing to write this post, I was trying to come to a reason why this was really important to me. I boiled this down to one word: Options.

The upgrade approach we take provides me – as well as our customers – with a tremendous amount of options. I love that I can do what is right for my team, the business and meet other specific needs that may arise.

John Phelan

Describing himself as “not your typical VP,” John Phelan, vice president of Information Systems, is responsible for operational oversight of Hyland, creator of OnBase’s corporate Information Systems department, including corporate infrastructure, application development and solution deployment. He joined Hyland in March 1999 as a quality assurance representative. He is an AIIM ECM Specialist and is CDIA+ and MCSE certified.

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