Caliach MuM - How it Works

Version Relevance: V5

Issue: Can we be upgraded to Caliach Vision V5 by moving to Managed User Monthly? What is involved and how will it all work?

Background: In August 2018 Caliach announced a service we called Managed User Monthly or MuM for short. It is available to both existing Caliach Vision sites and new customers and replaces the alternative Purchase-Self-Manage-Support model with a Managed-Supported model charged on a per user per month basis.

Aug 18th, 2018

This introduction was partly to conform with the growing trend to have Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and partly to fill a need by customers to replace in-house expertise with a specialist service provided remotely to look after the more complex V5 infrastructure, especially on their server. One side-effect of MuM's introduction is that it enables Caliach to upgrade existing sites to V5 remotly and thus reduce costs dramatically and spread them over a period of time. This article will explain why this is.

Please note that throughout this article the word server means the computer on which PostgreSQL's server is running and the word client means the user's computer or device that is accessing the database on the server.

In a nutshell, moving to MuM means replacing the annual site support and re-licensing (charged as a percent of site license list price) with a monthly service (charged on a flat per user basis and invoiced periodically). To accommodate existing sites, who have already bought their license, we will discount to an extent that means that they will only pay net what they paid under the old system, plus a small extra amount to cover the added management service.

How will MuM Work in Practice

Connections Diagram

The simplified diagram above illustrates the components and connections which are:

  • Caliach's Central Server is located on the Internet (in fact we have 2, independantly located, one being a fallover for the other; www.caliach.com and, on a 24 hour catch-up, www.caliach.co.uk, and we may be adding others for regulatory reasons.). This server holds the information on licensing and where licensee sites are. It runs the MuM Monitoring software and site file synchronisation. It also hosts our web site and is our FTP server, so if you are reading this article live, you received this page from it.
  • Caliach Support Operator will be elsewhere on the Internet connecting to the Central Server and/or site servers through Remote Desktop to manage, or setup in the first place, the needed Caliach Vision configuration. Connections to the Caliach Central Server and Customer Site Server will be by Remote Desktop for setup and occasional debugging when needed. This may be over a VPN, depending on server rules. SSL is used for Monitoring. and FTP for file transfer.
  • The Customer Site Server is your server located in your facility or with a provider (see Server Requirements below). Your server will have an internal Firewall and/or it will, as will the entire LAN, sit behind a separate Firewall. Whatever your configuration, for our purposes we can think of that as one Firewall blocking bad stuff and routing through desirable traffic. Connections will be similarly by VPN, FTP and SSL.
  • Typically, Site End-Users will be on Desktop or Laptop PCs connected to the LAN by Ethernet or office WiFi. They can also be Remote Desktop users working remotely on a Terminal Services session on your server. (See this article for Operating Caliach Vision Remotely). There are no connections from or to client devices with the MuM service.

MuM works at the level of your server only and gives Caliach remote access for us to perform the following functions:

  1. Upgrade your site installation including installing the required software.
  2. Migrate you to the latest Caliach Vision version that is current at the time.
  3. Maintain the site software including upgrading when needed, and including client software which your end-users can then simply copy onto their computers from the server.
  4. Perform regular routine monitoring of the health of Caliach Vision databases and report to you the results (see MuM Monitoring below).

One of the main objectives of MuM is to eventually have all Caliach Vision sites running on the latest software under a common infrastructure. This will yield the following advantages:

  • Support can be sure you are running the latest software and don’t have to keep asking what you are on. They can be confident your issue is not because of some unfixed or unfixable fault or out-of date obsolete software.
  • We can automate distribution of files keeping costs down for you.
  • We have developed techniques and software to periodically sample key information from your Caliach Vision databases to assess data stability and report to you giving you complete peace of mind. And this will continue to be developed in the light of experience.
  • Other ideas are in the pipeline.
  • We will avoid any changes to your server ensuring they are are limited to those only necessary for Caliach Vision operation. You will be informed of everything we do or intend to do.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Caliach Ltd and it's staff and contractors are well aware of the precious nature of your data and server contents. All changes to your server will be made with care not to reduce your security. Although we will be introducing avenues of external access they are chosen and protected. We will never divulge passwords or other access information to anyone, including members of your own staff or IT team. If you subsequently have breaches or server problems, we do not want to get blamed, or even suspected, so we will take great care.

Complete privacy of your data is also guaranteed by all staff signing our standard confidentiality agreement, which is currently under preparation by lawyers, and will be available soon on our web site.

Site Server Requirements

Please read the Caliach MuM - What You Need To Do To Make It Work For You article for this information.

Upgrading your Old Caliach Vision Installation to V5

This is where Caliach has really pushed the boat out to help all sites, whatever their in-house skills set. We are offering with the MuM Program a complete upgrade from any legacy version of Caliach Vision to the very latest version and then to maintain that for you thereafter, so you never have to fall behind again.

There is no need for a consultant to visit to perform the installation or even training, unless you want it, everything will be done remotely, so no travel costs or expenses and any discussions can be carried out over Skype at a mutually agreed time. The inevitable refinement of customisation will be carried out under our well established Full Site Support Service.

  1. First, we need to establish what is involved in your data and, particularly, current customization re-write so you need to send visionsupport@caliach.com, which is now our dedicated email account for the MuM Program, the information called for in the Quotation section at the end of this V5 Late Adopter Upgrade Program article.
  2. While this first stage of upgrade to V5 remain a chargeable process, if you are electing at the same time to move to the Caliach Vision MuM Program, we can role this cost into an additional per-user-per-month supplement over a limited period which you can choose - from 1 to 3 years, so please tell what you would like so we can give you an accurate quotation, you can, of course also simply pay a single fee for this.
  3. While we are preparing a quotation, you should check up with your IT team or support provider that your Server will conform to the requirements above and/or establish your Cloud Server.
  4. After we have assessed your situation we will provide a Quotation and an estimate of the time it will take to reach a point when we can setup your Server and migrate your data.
  5. At an agreed point we will start the Server setup and prepare for data migration. You will continue your current routine without interruptions. Server setup will be done without you even noticing.
  6. This involves us doing a number of things on the Server:
    • Install the PostgreSQL Database Server and configure, locking it down appropriatly. That comes with pgAdmin 4 a shortcut of which we will put on the server Desktop - needed for Restores and monitoring.
    • Install Filezilla FTP Server and configure it, locking it down appropriately (see File Synchronization below).
    • Adjust the server internal Firewall for operation of the above.
    • Prepare a dedicated Caliach Server Folder which clients will access (optServerFolder=).
    • Prepare a folder for scripts that will run as Scheduled Tasks.
    • Setup the appropriate Scheduled Tasks.
    • Prepare a folder where PostgreSQL database backups will go.
    • Prepare a folder for client installation sub-folders.
  7. We will then setup Caliach's Central Server to accomidate your server and then test File Synchronisation and MuM Monitoring, and report back to you.
  8. Once complete you will actually have a fully operational environment which you can test and explore. The database will not be live at this point, as it will contain a data migration copy of your current data taken at some point in the process. Nothing will change as far as end-users are concerned and your business will continue to run normally on the old Caliach Vision.
  9. We will ask you to install a client for testing, sending you exact instructions which is basically a copying exercise from the server onto the client computer. And we will then ask you to test the customization, which in most cases will be limited to printed documents. Modifications can then be marked-up, scanned and emailed for us to modify until they are to your satisfaction.
  10. Once we are all happy, we will agree a point to switch-over. It is this switch-over when business interruption can occur. You have to shut down the use of your current Caliach Vision, wait for the live data migration to complete then restart with everyone using the their new Caliach Vision client installations. By arrangement, this process can be done at night your time or over a weekend.
  11. At the agreed time we will start the Live Data Migration, disabling the existing data temorarily, so that noone can accidentally corrupt the process.
  12. During this, or before, you will have installed all client computers as in step 9.
  13. If the process goes without hitch (which it usually does), we will inform you and you can allow all users to go into Caliach Vision V5 and operate as normal.
  14. At this point, traditionally we would have had someone on-site standing by to monitor all goes smoothly and carry out general training on what is new and how to make the best of, what is, a much more sophisticated and powerful system. We don't force you to take training but we do recommend that you do and if you do, this would have to be specifically requested. And, remember, our phone and email support service is not a substitute for training. In fact it is important for you to know that the support team are not involved in the management or impementation of the MuM Service, they are aware of it, to the extent of this document, but all MuM issues must go through visionsupport@caliach.com. Caliach Vision is well documented with help and there is a large library of special subject documentation in this Knowledge Base. In particular there is in the help a comprehensive starter for you in Introduction to Client-Server SQL.
  15. You are now off and running on the latest most well developed Caliach Vision ever and you can sit back and be confident that you will remain so.

Upgrading your Existing V5 Installation to Conform to MuM Standards

Existing Caliach Vision V5 sites can move to the MuM Program at no cost. We will do all the necessary setup at a small installation engineer time charge.

Your Server needs to conform to the Site Server Requirements above.

Once we can confirm that, we will do much the same as the foregoing section but, of course, without the data migration or customization re-write as that is all in place already. The process will be as follows:

  1. At an agreed time we will setup your server to accomodate MuM standards. We will:
    1. Install the latest PostgreSQL (this can sit next to your current PostgreSQL) and configure, locking it down appropriatly. This has no effects on current operations. That comes with pgAdmin 4 a shortcut of which we will put on the server Desktop - needed for Restores and monitoring.
    2. Install Filezilla FTP Server and configurie it, locking it down appropriatly (see File Synchronization below).
    3. Adjust the server internal Firewall for operation of the above.
    4. Prepare a dedicated Caliach Server Folder which clients will access (optServerFolder=). We will need to rename your existing one (to conform to File Synchronization) and will send you instructions and a new Terminal.inf file to distribute to clients.
    5. Prepare or move a folder for scripts that will run as Scheduled Tasks installing new up-to-date script files.
    6. Setup or adjust the appropriate Scheduled Tasks.
    7. Prepare a folder where PostgreSQL database backups will go.
    8. Prepare a folder for client installation sub-folders.
  2. We will then setup Caliach's Central Server to accomidate your server and then test File Synchronisation and MuM Monitoring, and report back to you.
  3. Then, at an agreed time we will shutdown your existing PostgreSQ and move the data into the new PostgreSQL (with an appropriate port change).
  4. We will test all this and then tell you to copy the client files onto each client computer.
  5. You are now off and running on the latest most well developed Caliach Vision ever and you can sit back and be confident that you will remain so.

Client Installations

In the server's client installation folder mentioned above there will be a number of sub-folders for different types of client and operating systems - Windows x86, x64 and Mac (if you use Macs). Each will contain something like this:

Client Distribution folder contents

The above is the minimum installation file-set, containing just the configuration needed on the client computer when the Server Folder is available - i.e. with normal LAN working. There will be other folders with more in them to cover clients that want to operate away from the LAN (for instance, when they go offsite with a SQLite copy of the database). The whole folder can be copied into the C:\ drive of the client computer and then the Shortcut (in the above illustrated case especially named) can be copied from there to the users Desktop and/or pinned to their Taskbar. Full Instructions for Site User Installation are given in the Caliach MuM - Site User Installation Knowledge Base article.

MuM File Synchronization

This is a process of making sure that the right files are available for you on the server in the various locations relevant to your Caliach Vision installation. In the Caliach's Central Server we maintain a master set of files, some general to all sites (in fact the same as the master source files that go into our latest download installer), and some specific to your site. We use synchronization software to transfer the correct files by FTP into your server, making sure that you have the latest up-to-date versions. To do that your server needs to be able to receive FTP transfers. This is achieved using Filezilla FTP Server mentioned above. It is actually a general purpose FTP Server but for MuM purposes we will lock it down with only one permitted access user with strong passwords and limited file transfer abilities to only those parts of your server where MuM files reside, for instance we will not have access to your backups. This is easily achieved using the very vigorous security Filezilla affords, and anyway activity is all logged, so your server security is assured.

MuM Monitoring

This is a key feature of the MuM Service. It is actually a suite of Caliach Vision customisation (shows what you can do with customization!) that both holds a confidential database of site details and runs the monitoring process from Caliach's Central Server. When monitoring is run it makes a secure SSL connection to your PostgreSQL server, performs a number of standard tests on the your database(s) and produces a report which is emailed to you and/or loaded into designated user's Message Box. It is described in more technical detail in the Caliach MuM - Installation Stage 2 (PostgreSQL and Monitoring) article.

This is not a spying exercise, it is a snapshot of the state of your database with tests designed to look at the health of the system. The sort of tests we would typically do if we came on-site to perform a system health-check. You can control this process by:

  1. Setting how frequently monitoring is performed in days (minimum 7).
  2. Telling us who should receive monitoring result reports, by email and/or by message.
  3. Whether money values should be redacted on their reports (redacted values shows as ■■■■).
  4. Adding in up to 10 extra tests of your own using the Feedback feature.

We will store key test results in Caliach's Central Server to an extent needed for giving you over-time reports so that trends can be seen.

Monitoring will develop over the months and years as we develop other useful tests.

MuM Monitoring Results

The above shows a Remote Monitoring session with below the simultaneous server performance impact analysis.

pgAdmin4 MuM Monitoring impact

Summary - What We Need from You

Please read the Caliach MuM - What You Need To Do To Make It Work For You article for this information.

Links to other MuM KB Articles:

Chris Ross - Senior Consultant