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Queries Regarding Application Upgrades


samwoo
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Hello,

I have been advised by Hornbill Support to ask the following query here:

We have a new process in our organisation that requires us to get approval on upgrades and changes to all systems, so I have the following queries about module upgrades in Hornbill and is wondering if someone can answer them:

(previously upgrades were done ad-hoc, so there was no record of it taking place)

The modules that require upgrading on our end are the:

  • Service Manager
  • Document Manager
  • Customer Manager

Our queries regarding the upgrades are:

  1. The upgrades are recommended to be done out of hours. How long can it take to upgrade a single module? What is a realistic timescale to upgrade all three in the same night? Once we have this information it’ll be easier to time it.
  2. Do you have a recovery plan if the module upgrades go wrong or the system goes down out of hours? Who do we contact? What can we do to resolve any issues?
  3. What is the road map for module upgrades? How many upgrades/versions do we have to miss before we stop receiving support from Hornbill until we have done so? Or how long can we put an upgrade on hold for.
  4. Is there a test system for Hornbill where we can test upgrades (and other settings) before doing it to the Live environment? If not, is there any possibility of one in the future?

Once we have the information required it should be easier to go through the process in the future to stay on top of Hornbill Upgrades for the fixes and features. I am doing this so I can build confidence so that the upgrades can be done more frequently without any issues in order to keep the system up to date.

Many thanks,

- Samuel -

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Hi Samuel,

I wanted to respond to your post in order to explain our delivery process, please read this carefully as its very important. We develop and deliver our application using a process known as Continuous Delivery, there are many advantages to this approach, not least of which is the significant cost savings made by not having to do more traditional software upgrades. You should think of Hornbill as a "service" to which you subscribe, you should not look at it as some on-premise software application. The Hornbill platform is automatically updated by us on a regular basis, we ensure that its kept up to date and we guarantee it does not break and if something does go wrong we fix it, this is already happening and happens 2-3 time a month at least. We make small low risk changes very regularly to ensure that we deliver new features continuously without breaking things. Think about this like Facebook, Google, Gmail or LinkedIn, if you use any of these platforms you will never know (or care) what version they are on, you will just use the service....Hornbill is the same in this regard.

For historical reasons, we allow customers to regulate when they take the updates for the applications (in your case Service Manager, Document Manager and Customer Manager) running on their instance by presenting an "Update" button in the Hornbill App Store. In the future this "Update" option will be removed and applications that are installed on your instance will be automatically updated by us in the same way as we do currently for the platform, its important that you know this in the context of the questions you are asking. Its incredibly important that you keep your applications up to date, the longer you go between updates the higher the risk you are creating for your organisation in terms of potential problems and the harder it will be for our team to resolve any issues that might arise - most customers keep their apps up to date on our platform.

So in answer to your individual questions....

The upgrades are recommended to be done out of hours. How long can it take to upgrade a single module?

The update (not upgrade - important distinction) will take anywhere between 20 and 60 SECONDS, all that is involved is going to the app store and pressing the update button, you will see the progress bar. The "recommending to be done out of hours" is misguiding, it would be better to say we recommend you do this at a time when your instance is not in peak use to minimise risk of disruption, early morning, lunch time or at the end of the day are good times for most people. Applications can be updated on our system while it is being used live, there is no user disruption at all so you should not have to schedule anything, notify your users or do any of those planning things that are associated with more traditional software deployments.

What is a realistic timescale to upgrade all three in the same night? Once we have this information it’ll be easier to time

When you are in the Hornbill App Store you can press the Update button on all apps that need upgrading all at the same time, they will all update at the same time.

Do you have a recovery plan if the module upgrades go wrong or the system goes down out of hours? Who do we contact? What can we do to resolve any issues?

Yes we do, we guarantee nothing will break -- ever, thats part of our service and we stand by it, just update your applications and your are good to go. If something does go wrong just contact our support team and we will fix it. Generally we know about anything breaking long before our customers do and fix things before they impact anyone. Our platform is supported 24x7x365 so someone is always on had to fix something should it go wrong. However, we see very few problems occurring relating to an application update, thats part of the benefit that the Hornbill platform delivers.

What is the road map for module upgrades?

We do not publish any forward roadmap, we deliver features an updates continuously, our content changes and evolves continuously in response to customer and market needs, a roadmap, especially a date-bound one would remove our ability to be agile and evolve our solution in an adaptable and malleable way. You can see the change log/release notes for each application and the platform its self from within your instance admin tool.

How many upgrades/versions do we have to miss before we stop receiving support from Hornbill until we have done so? Or how long can we put an upgrade on hold for.

You should keep your applications up to date, the very best option is to keep your updates applied as incremental as our updates are pushed out, that is the lowest risk. We do recognise this is a burden for our customers which is why removing the "Update" button is on our agenda.

Is there a test system for Hornbill where we can test upgrades (and other settings) before doing it to the Live environment? If not, is there any possibility of one in the future

One of the key value propositions of our solution is there is no need for a dev/test staging, you as a customer are free from this burden, as I said before you should simply treat Hornbill as a service that you subscribe to and use, and relax in the knowledge that we do all this work for you in the background.

All of this would have been explained while you were evaluating the solution as part of your Hornbill Switch On so you may want to speak with those involved in order to clarify these points. I am very glad you raised these questions though, I think the wider Hornbill Community will benefit from some of the questions and answers in this post.

Regards,

Gerry

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Hello Gerry,

Fantastic post! I am also glad I raised it as an awareness for others, it's a shame the formatting for this topic doesn't work. I will relay this information to the relevant people in my organisation as i am keen to show them the amazing service that you provide and will continue to provide.

Many thanks,

Samuel

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Hi Samuel,

Yes sorry about the crappy formatting, we are currently looking into that and will try to sort it out. I am glad you like our approach and are not put off by my response. We have a deep rooted belief in what we are doing and we think all software used in the enterprise should be this easy to use. Traditional software upgrades, staging and managing/planning releases is archaic in many ways. There are some edge cases where CD does not work or is not acceptable, for example, in space flight or where human life would be put at risk if something did go wrong. For the rest of us though, the inconvenience of suffering the odd hiccup is far outweighed by the benefits of never having to worry about software upgrade projects, down time, massive UI change, training and all the other stuff that goes along with *big* releases of software.

Gerry

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Just tagging on to this thread, is it possible for an e-mail to go out prior to the non-minor releases? Especially ones that introduce new functionality and not bug fixes as, I know in the past - such as the updated services view on the portals, unless you were previously discussing it with support staff you would not know about it happening.

You do have the notifications bird but I don't find it effective. It would be good to know what's going to be released (even if it's a days notice) rather than receiving a call/an e-mail from our external customers asking why something has changed and we're in the same position as them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have a query about the App Updates.

Last week I updated the Service Manager, I hadn't checked the App Store since the last time I updated (shortly after I made this topic). I thought the Latest Changes were cool

For example from the list:

  • NEW: Added new bpm automated task to schedule a change request on the change calendar
  • NEW: Bpm operation to remove a scheduled change request from the change calendar

Coming in today I noticed that there is another update, but the change log is still the same... Last week when i did the update, i pressed the update button, waiting for it to finish then closed Hornbill pretty much immediately... does the Change Log reflect the "Latest" update, or the "Current available" update?

If it reflects the "Latest" update does the apps need to be update one after the other? Or is it possible that the change log hasn't been updated to reflect the latest update?

It would be great if we can have a read only area on the forums for each App containing the change logs for each version of the apps, unless there is something i'm missing? Or even an email detailing the changes would be great.

Thanks,

Samuel

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  I am feeling the same here:

There was an update waiting this morning     and then another one just now after lunch  .

Looking at the "Last Changes" list i have no idea what's new .

Can we have a date or version number next to the list items maybe ?

Thanks

Ralf

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Hi Ralf, Greg and Sam,

I will need to look into your comments as there should *never* be an update that does not contain at least one release note item, so not quite sure whats going on with the rapid updates on the same day with SM, I will need to find out why this happened, it should not and I can understand why this would be of concern. 

Now I appreciate that advanced notice of new features could be useful in some circumstances but the problem we would have with this is our automation and our continuous delivery process.  We release from test -> dev -> beta -> live, generally through a 72 hour window, any release can get pulled at any time, in other words something that makes it to beta may well not make it to live. The publishing system knows this and organises the release notes accordingly but save for blocking intervention by us this process is largely automated.   It would not be possible to "accurately" pre-announce any upcoming features, and we don't have a mechanism in place to send e-mail notifications about releases.   We rely on pushing change notifications via HH Notices, and (correct me if I am wrong here) but we don't push disconcerting changes either, we try to keep changes progressive and easy for users of the system to stay abreast of - this is core to our Continuous Delivery process. 

Greg, could you please give me specific examples, I presume in this instance you are talking about Self Service portal, I would like to understand what the big change was so I can take a look at our release and communications approach, it occurs to me that HH notices do not work for self service portal feature changes. I would add on this point that I know there have been some fairly significant improvements in the portal of late so this might just be an exceptional perception, rather than something you can expect on a regular basis as we may well have pushed a disconcerting enhancement(s), I will need to find out more.  

Samuel, Ralf, I was just looking at admin2 and I see the release note functionality is not as granular as it used to be in admin 1, I recall you could see previous updates which where grouped out by build number and date...not quite sure why that changed, I will need to ask the question of the dev team about this, we will update you further once I find someone with an answer.

Gerry

 

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A further update....

You can go into Admin tool

 Home -> System -> Hornbill Change History

And see the change history for the underlaying platform (very technical), the Admin Tool and the User Tool, the change history is broken down in the same way as described above, so I guess thats what you require for Service Manager and other apps?

Gerry

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Hi Gerry,

Yes this would be a major benefit if we could have the change history laid out the similar way as the Hornbill Change History. I as as well as other people are always interested in whats been going on in the background to further improve Hornbill. If I see something new I like to test the features and relay ideas on how we could use it with my colleagues.

Thanks for looking into this.

Samuel.

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Hi Gerry,

 

that would be great to have the history  available

Again this morning another update ( or is it the one from yesterday afternoon ?? )  , looking at the "Lastest Changes" list , to me it looks like nothing has been added ??

 

Thanks

 

Ralf

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  • 1 month later...

It's great to be able to see a list of the upgrades that have occurred against each app and who kicked them off, but is it possible to retain the Change Log against each upgrade applied?

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Samuel,

We are working on a more unified way of presenting release notes for all applications, you should see this start to appear very soon (in the next couple of weeks) in the admin tool. The most complex one will be the Service Manager app as we have adopted a slightly different dev/release workflow which is making the auto generation of release notes challenging but we are working on solving this.  Watch this space :)

Gerry 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello,

Is there a changelog available for the latest Service Manager release? It says there's an update available but nothing has changed since the last one :o . @Gerry looking forward to all the improvements in this area :D

Cheers,

Samuel

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@samwoo because there may be multiple releases for a version, we keep the release notes the same for every release right now. We are adding any additional fixes as release notes to the top of the list. As Gerry has mentioned we are looking to improve this.

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2 minutes ago, cchana said:

@samwoo because there may be multiple releases for a version, we keep the release notes the same for every release right now. We are adding any additional fixes as release notes to the top of the list. As Gerry has mentioned we are looking to improve this.

Cheers @cchana just a though if there is any new fixes/features maybe have them appear at the top in bold each time there is an update. Or even better, if there are any new additions to the changelog that the user hasn't seen yet then make it bold otherwise they will not be bold.

Samuel

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Hi Samuel 

To give you an idea of whats coming we will be introducing release notes history to the App Store View this will enable you to see each release and the changes within said release. It will also group together the release notes between the version you currently have installed and the latest available version so you can see in one group all of the changes, fixes and additions you will get when applying the application update.

We will post back in this workspace when the new release notes views are available.

Kind Regards

Trevor Killick

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Trevor

We too would find the release notes section with a bit more details on each of the fixes/changes include in the releases extremely useful.

Also it appears there has not been any recent Harry Hornbill announcements which sometimes detailed some of the new features added in by certain releases.

Cheers

Martyn

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