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What We Learned From Upgrading to SS&C Blue Prism v7.2

By Krystian Malec posted 10-04-2023 10:00

  

Tips and Tricks to Guide Your Upgrade Journey

I’m Krystian Malec, the RPA Technology Manager at Hapag-Lloyd. My main responsibilities include the platform and security governance around our robotic process automation (RPA) program. 

We recently upgraded from SS&C Blue Prism version 6.10, to 7.2.0. I’m here to walk you through that journey and alleviate any nervousness you may have about upgrading. It really isn’t that daunting if you have the right planning in place; it took us under a month end-to-end with hardly any downtime.

 

Where We Started

We initially began our automation journey on version 6.4, however after a year we upgraded to 6.10 in order to leverage new functionalities (i.e. Data Gateways). It was during this upgrade that we defined our initial strategy for future versioning of the platform.  Now with the recent changes to browser architectures (chromium manifest) made us choose to either upgrade or install a patch to keep our automation working. Between this major event and all the updates and innovations to SS&C Blue Prism’s product— which includes advanced security features and compatibility with Manifest V3 — we decided it was better to upgrade everything to SS&C Blue Prism Enterprise 7.2.

 

Our Environment Setup

We use a separate ‘playground’ environment setup, which is very important when you’re planning an upgrade. 

Good practice is to have at least three environments: development, test and production. Anything that isn’t 'production’ is a pre-production environment, and change should always be tested in a pre-production environment first.

 

How we use our playground

We utilize the playground for two purposes. The first is for training: we use the playground to onboard new developers. They go through what we call our ‘boot camp regime’. The second purpose of the playground is for testing upgrades. 

Our playground gives us a separate space from our main SS&C Blue Prism environments so we can understand the variations between the two versions. When we do our initial testing in the playground, we pay specific attention to the processes that have specific or unusual functions. From there, we perform regression tests to validate that everything is working okay.

Once we know it all works and we don’t need any more adjustments, our next step is simple: We apply the update to our development environments. We usually give it a week to validate that everything is working, then move on to production.

 

What We Did For v7.2

For this upgrade to SS&C Blue Prism version 7.2, we were in the process of delivering a new automation, and there was ongoing work on all our environments as part of this. I.e., we were incrementally releasing new automation components into production while developing and testing other parts. So, rather than doing what we usually would – upgrading one environment at a time – we chose to do it all in one go. And it was a success!

Of course, the key here is planning. We had to check every step in advance and ensure that everything was up to date. By upgrade day, we had everything organized and ready to go. 

As with any project, there were some things we didn’t spot, mostly around scheduling elements that, in the playground environment, we didn’t know would be comparable to production. That meant we didn’t catch some latency in the new version. Otherwise, the whole process went smoothly.

 

Breaking Down Our Upgrade Journey

Now, let’s address some questions you might have about our upgrade process.

 

How long did it take?

From planning to production, the upgrade took us only three weeks.

Here’s a breakdown of our timeline:

  • Week 1: Analyzing the playground and regression testing of the different digital worker types to ensure the version didn’t break anything.
  • Week 2: Planning the downtime by informing our internal clients about the upgrade.
  • Week 3: Deploying the upgrade and monitoring its performance.

 

Did it impact your productivity?

Apart from the single period of downtime we required to take the SS&C Blue Prism service down and perform the upgrade (which only took a few hours), there were no major disruptions to the business.

 

What SS&C Blue Prism-sourced resources did you use to help your journey?

We’ve had a lot of experience using SS&C Blue Prism, so we’re comfortable with the processes and know we can rely on the product documentation. Of course, you have to do this work before you upgrade. For us, our playground environment allowed us to spot any deviations and validate that our documentation was correct. That ensured we were well-prepared when the day of the upgrade came.

 

What did your team look like?

Our team consisted of myself, our platform team and our Center of Excellence (CoE). We have developers, analysts and controllers, and some of our selected developers are also platform engineers. But essentially, the upgrade took only four people to plan and execute.

 

I’m nervous about upgrading. What’s your advice?

Here are my top tips for ensuring your upgrade journey goes smoothly:

  1. Identify a suitable pre-production environment so you can test out the upgrade ahead of time. Mockup a clone environment, as much as possible for your capabilities, so you can catch the things that might not be included in your documentation.
  2. Create documentation that reflects what your setup is.
  3. Prepare for timeouts and wait stages as much as possible before upgrading.

 

Bonus question: What are your upgrading goals for the future?

We have an agile setup reaching maturity, so we’re able to react to our internal needs as required. In the future, I’d like to see us setting up a regular upgrade cadence and reviewing them appropriately.

 

Be Prepared

It’s always good to plan ahead. Think about contingencies, downtime and testing. And then allow yourself to see the benefits of always having a working, up-to-date system. Utilize SS&C Blue Prism’s support team and scripting to help with streamlining and put together a pipeline to ensure everything is upgraded accordingly.

 

Highlight tip: Test out your scripting in a playground environment. Then: test, test, test. Mockup how the upgrade will play out and play it over and over. That way, your actual upgrade will be streamlined, and you’ll know what to expect.

 

Looking for more tips? The Community team recently hosted an “Ask us Anything” that has some great tips on upgrading to the latest versions that I would recommend you check out here.

#BluePrismNews #Product #InsideRPA


#V6EndofLife

6 comments
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Comments

12-04-2023 08:38

Many thanks Krystain Malec.

10-13-2023 04:52

Thank you Krystian Malec, valuable content

10-10-2023 10:53

thanks Krystian Malec for your valuable input.

10-10-2023 08:46

Hello @Neeraj Kumar,

Many thanks for reaching out.  Our journey included from the beginning choosing the '64 -bit' version of Blue Prism, although it wasn't until version 7 that the platform was truly 64 bit.  That being said, we only had to compensate for some objects that were interfacing 32 bit applications post upgrade, that the 'application manager mode' was adjusted to reflect Blue Prism being 64 bit, while the underlying applications being 32-bit.  Hope this helps.

10-09-2023 08:53

Krystian Malec - Thanks for sharing your experience.  please can you insight on how you decide on 32 bit version or 64 version of blue prism in 7.2. what were decisive factor which you consider. 

10-04-2023 12:45

Thank you so much for sharing your insight and expertise, @Krystian Malec!

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