Upgrade FileNet Before End-of-Support
Robert Short, Vice President of Cloud Services at enChoice
In December, IBM released new Long Term Support releases of FileNet, Cloud Pak for Business Automation (CP4BA), Datacap, Business Automation Workflow (BAW), and Operational Decision Manager (ODM.
This means that no matter what previous versions of those products you are using, you will no longer receive support for security or defect fixes after April 30, 2023. This is because IBM only provides security and defect fixes for the two latest continuous delivery release and the existing LTSR.
For more information about what an LTSR is, see: IBM Announces New Long Term Support Release (LTSR) for FileNet and Cloud Pak for Business Automation.
It is important to begin planning now for your upgrade. While April 30th is just over a year away, it can take time to gather work estimates, get budgeting approved, and put together a schedule.
Assess your environment
Take a step back, look over your existing environment and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is there an organization directive to move applications to the cloud?
- Should the operating system or database be updated?
- FileNet supports containers now. Should we consider moving to Kubernetes or OpenShift?
If you are considering moving to a cloud provider, new hardware, or containers, talk to enChoice, or to your FileNet partner, to help understand the effort involved.
Types of Upgrades
Today’s topic involves upgrading traditional environments. There are two primary types of upgrades - in-place, and one we call a lift & shift.
An ‘In-Place’ upgrade should only be performed on the same major release, for example from FileNet v5.5.4 to v5.5.8. If you are upgrading from any prior version to 5.5.x, you should consider a lift & shift upgrade.
Benefits of an in-place upgrade are:
- Connections: In general, connections to the upgraded system won’t need to be changed. If you have custom applications, or integrations accessing the FileNet system, these should not need to have their connection strings updated.
- Project Speed: By only upgrading the FileNet components, the total length of the project will be much shorter. This is because you don’t need to stand-up and configure new servers or virtual machines. The amount of time it takes to upgrade FileNet is about the same, but because there are less components updated during an in-place upgrade, the overall length of the project is less.
The ‘Lift & Shift’ upgrade involves moving to new servers and database. This method would also be very similar when moving to a container environment. It the following benefits:
- Low risk: The original environment is not touched so there is very little risk.
- Everything updated: The new environment can have the latest and greatest versions of all supported components.
- No legacy code: There will be no previous FileNet or custom application code on the new environment to cause issues.
- Production Testing: The new environment can be running in parallel with the existing production environment allowing you to thoroughly test it prior to the cutover.
- One cutover: No matter how complex the environment is, it can usually be updated during a single maintenance window.
- Simple backout: If there are any major issues found during the cutover, turn off the new system and turn on the original and you are right back to where you were before cutover. No need to restore.
As a partner specializing in upgrades, we have found that the ideal team consists of several roles. Some individuals in your organization may wear many hats and have more than one responsibility, but designating these roles will help make the upgrade a success:
- Project Manager: Creates the schedules and maintains the team communication. We have found this role to be critical in having a timely upgrade.
- IT Administrator: Prepares the network and operating system and will carry out security configurations to prepare your environment for the upgrade.
- Security Administrator: Might be needed to create accounts necessary to perform the upgrade.
- Database Administrator: Reviews the database requirements and may need to update some database security or run certain scripts.
- Application Server Administrator: Reviews the WebSphere or WebLogic application server requirements and updates them or certain configurations as needed.
- FileNet Administrator: Carries out the bulk of the tasks related to the upgrade.
In addition to the team performing the upgrade, there are several digital resources available to you that can help with the performance of an upgrade.
- Compatibility Reports: This is the page to go to and determine what is supported with the version of software that you will be using. Always check all your components here such as FileNet Content Engine, Content Navigator, Datacap, etc. This will help you determine what products are supported working with each other as well as the underlying database and operating system.
- Knowledge Centers: Each product has its own knowledge center. For planning, installation, upgrade, or administrative procedures, these pages are a great help:
- Part Numbers: Use these pages to find the part number of the products you want to download. It makes searching for them in the catalog just a little bit easier:
- Passport Advantage online for customers: This site is where you download the software. If you have a partner that is your primary support provider, ask them to download the software for you.
- Fix Central: This is the site to grab the latest security and defect fixes for your software.
About the Author
Robert Short - Vice President, Cloud Services at enChoice
Robert Short began working with FileNet software in 1997 as a Technical Consultant, installing, upgrading, and supporting FileNet Content Services, Image Services, P8 Content Platform Engine, and Case Manager. Robert served as an Implementation Project Manager for FileNet, creating standard implementation processes for the installation and upgrade of IBM ECM products. Robert is VP of Cloud Services at enChoice and has built a team to deliver Digital Transformation Services to our customers, both on-prem and in the public cloud, utilizing Amazon Web Services, Armor, Azure, IBM Cloud, and Rackspace.
Founded in 1993, enChoice®, Inc. is an award-winning Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Digital Transformation solutions company, with 28-years’ experience helping customers improve business processes and protect critical information with software and solutions that accelerate their path to digital efficiency.
For more information, www.enchoice.com.
If you have questions or would like to chat further about upgrading your FileNet system, please feel free to reach out to me using the form below.Ask Us A Question