Job for copying the configuration from the production environment into the Standard Sandbox
Making testing and training in an Alma Standard Sandbox based on Ex Libris provided configuration is very difficult since this configuration may be very different from the one in the customer's production environment.
Currently Ex Libris is offering two types of Sandboxes for Alma:
(1) "Standard" - by default included in Alma subscription pricing. This sandbox contains Ex Libris provided data and configuration
(2) "Premium" – for addition subscription fee – this sandbox includes a full copy of the customer's data and configuration
Refresh of the Alma sandbox environment is possible up to once a quarter, upon request. In the case of a Premium Sandbox, Ex Libris updates the customer’s Premium Sandbox with the most recent data and configuration copied from the production environment. In the case of Standard Sandbox, Ex Libris resets the Sandbox data and configuration to the original copy.
We would like Ex Libris to propose an improved Standard Sandbox so that customers can export the configuration from the production environment with a job in order to import it in the Standard Sandbox. This Standard Sandbox would still contain Ex Libris provided data, only configuration would be copied from prod to sandbox. A Standard sandbox containing the customer's configuration would be very useful for staff training, testing of setup scenarios, new enhancements, integration with other systems, etc. This service is already proposed for Primo!
Manu Schwendener commented
Aya Yukawa commented
We think that the function to export the configuration from the production environment itself is very useful! If you want to backup configurations, you need to go to each screen and download as excel sheet using Export list function. But the downloaded excel sheets often lack important information.
Manu Schwendener commented
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François Renaville commented
Thanks! You put your finger on it, Anonymous, and are right! Codes and data are closely linked, particularly when structure and hierarchy come into the picture! Good point! I’m mortified… :-/
We recently refreshed our Standard Sandbox and have added very few data since then. There are currently more than 120,000 bibliographic records, 39 active ledgers and funds, 650 POLs, 450 users... Do we really need 120,000 bib records in the IZ Standard Sandbox? I don’t think so. I would be happy with many less; I can always import or manually add and create what I need.
Since it is true that production configuration in the Sandbox makes really sense with real data from the institution, we could consider the following scenario:
-100% of the Alma Production CONFIGURATION copied on the Standard Sandbox
- 2% of the Alma Production DATA copied on the Standard Sandbox
This scenario would allow codes, etc. to match the appropriate data and make testing effective for some cases. But with a sample of 2% we can certainly not expect to always come to a correct mapping. Not difficult to imagine the problems in case of a POL is copied to the Sandbox and if the associated interested user is not part of the sample, if an invoice is copied without the associated POL, if an item has been requested by a non-copied user... There must certainly be solutions to avoid this situation, but no doubt that this would also make the whole thing much more difficult to implement… Why not only a sample of the Repository and User data that would be migrated? We can always easily create the POLs, invoices, loans, requests... we need for our tests.
Of course, there must be other possible scenarios! And upgrading to the Premium Sandbox would still make sense for institutions that need or want all their data and can pay for such additional service.
I agree with you that the usefulness of the Standard Sandbox is limited without our own data. But I find it easier to add the few data we really need for staff training, testing of setup scenarios, new enhancements, etc. rather than manually duplicating the whole Production configuration in our Sandbox.
Moreover, if Ex Libris still plans to allow customers to go further in testing the Alma releases and still hopes the customers will help them to detect bugs and issues asap and if possible before the new release being implemented in the Production environments, so that we all (politically correct) "enjoy a better release experience", then it makes really sense for customers to have an understandable and meaningful configuration in their Sandbox. I cannot go very far in testing new releases with an OOTB config...
And thanks again for your relevant comments!