The How and Why of an ImageRight Test Environment

Over the last few days, I’ve coordinated setting up a new test environment for ImageRight, now that we’ve upgraded to version 5.  Our previous test environment was still running version 4, which made it all but useless for current workflow development.  However, workflow development isn’t the only reason to set up an alternate ImageRight system – there are some other cool uses.

ImageRight has an interesting back-end architecture.  While it’s highly dependant on Active Directory for authentication (if you use the integrated log on method), the information about what other servers the application server and the client software should interact with is completely controlled with database entries and XML setup files.  Because of this you can have different ImageRight application servers, databases and image stores all on the same network with no conflicts or sharing of information.  Yet, you don’t need to provide a separate Active Directory infrastructure or network subnet.

While our ultimate goal was to provide a test/dev platform for our workflow designer, we also used this exercise as an opportunity to run a “mini” disaster recovery test so I could update our recovery documentation related to this system.

To set up a test environment, you’ll need at least one server to hold all your ImageRight bits and pieces – the application server service, the database and the images themselves.  For testing, we don’t have enough storage available to restore our complete set of images, so we only copied a subset.  Our database was a complete restoration, so test users will see a message about the system being unable to locate documents that weren’t copied over. 

I recommend referring to both the “ImageRight Version 5 Installation Guide” and the “Create a Test Environment” documents available on the Vertafore website for ImageRight clients.  The installation guide will give you all the perquisites need to run ImageRight and the document on test environments has details of what XML files need to be edited to ensure that your test server is properly isolated from your production environment.  Once you’ve restored your database, image stores and install share (aka “Imagewrt$), its quick and easy to tweak the XML files and get ImageRight up and running.

For our disaster recovery preparations, I updated our overall information about ImageRight, our step-by-step guide for recovery and burned a copy of our install share to a DVD so it can be included in our off-site DR kit.  While you can download a copy of the official ImageRight ISO, I prefer to keep a copy of our expanded “Imagewrt$” share instead – especially since we’ve added hotfixes to the version we are running, which could differ from the current ISO available online from Vertafore.

Because setting up the test enviroment was so easy, I could also see a use where some companies may want to use alternate ImageRight environments for extra sensitive documents, like payroll or HR.  I can’t speak for the additional licensing costs of having a second ImageRight setup specificially for production, but it’s certainly technicially possible if using different permissions on drawers and documents doesn’t meet the business requirements for some departments.

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