With the 2010r1 release of Advantage, it is now easier to manage multiple Advantage configurations from a single location, including a new mechanism for users to launch the Advantage application. This enhancement follows an industry-standard approach, and is called the Advantage Launch Pad.
In prior releases, the configuration settings for individual areas were located in client and server-side configuration text files (Advantag.ini). These plain-text files, located on each and every workstation as well as the application server, were prone to users or processes inadvertently deleting or compromising them. These configuration files could also have problems if they become out of synch with global INI file or other application settings.
The new Launch Pad feature is implemented through a central database called the AdvConfig database. It's a single, centrally located database (a master database) that provides a single, unified location for viewing and configuring all installed Advantage areas across multiple locations, such as multiple instances on a server. This database replaces the client- and server-side INI files and benefits from the configuration being located within a formalized database. This database allows for easy tailoring, updates, and configuration of all Advantage application areas and eliminates the need for client-site reinstalls due to those configuration changes. It also provides system administrators with a reliable method for centralizing administration, backup, and user settings.
This introduction of the AdvConfig database and Launch Pad user interface is a first step into a larger initiative preparing the application for future enhancements. It represents an advancement in technology and is part of the continual evolution of the software. For example, this approach will allow for a multi-server implementation of the software. In prior releases of Advantage, each client was tied at installation time to a particular Advantage server by way of shortcuts that pointed to program files on the given server. With the LaunchPad, the client-side shortcuts point to the locally installed LaunchPad program. In a future release that supports running Advantage on multiple servers (clustered), the LaunchPad will quickly interrogate the AdvConfig database for the available server with the lightest load and initiate a session with that server.
As with all production configurations, we needed to address availability and security?both important concerns. There are two major components of this implementation that ACS will address ? the AdvConfig database itself and the web service that allows for the communication between Launch Pad and the Advantage applications. Availability of the AdvConfig database can be achieved through SQL clustering or through SQL replication of the database on another SQL server. If replicated on another SQL server, the web service connection string would be altered to designate that redundancy.
The web service is the second component. Redundancy here can be accomplished through the use of an NLB cluster where the second occurrence of the web service is installed on another server and both are used to access the AdvConfig database via a cluster configuration. The load on the server to support the AdvConfig web service is modest, so the nodes in the NLB cluster could safely be deployed as virtual machines. To maximize availability, the virtual machines should not reside on the same physical hardware.
In summary, here is what the Launch Pad can do for you:
· It consolidates all Advantage shortcuts into one application
· It eliminates the need to reinstall user shortcuts
· It replaces the Advantag.ini files
· It provides an applications that shows you all the available areas between test and production
Note: For a detailed description of the Advantage Configuration System, click here: http://support.advantagecs.com/tools/download.aspx?id=3932. You will need your Advantage log-in and password to access this document. If you don't know it, contact your system administrator or the Advantage Support Center.