Best Practices for Managing Release Updates in IFS Cloud

Applying Release Updates robustly and securely involves a structured approach to ensure minimal disruption and maximum benefit. Here are some best practices and tips* for managing release updates in IFS Cloud:

* Note that some of the links provided below require you, the reader, being logged in as a registered user

1. Preparation and Planning

Assess the Update: Understand the contents of the release. Review release notes, documentation, and change logs to identify new features, bug fixes, and potential impacts.

IFS Product Release Notes (IFS Community)

IFS Cloud Service Update Fixes and Release Approvals (IFS Community)

Compatibility Check: Ensure the new release is compatible with your current environment, including hardware, operating system, and other software.

Backup: Perform comprehensive backups of all systems and data that will be affected by the update. This includes full system backups and backups of the IFS data and configurations.

 

2. Testing

Test Environment: Set up a test environment that mirrors your production environment as closely as possible.

How to request an automated clone of the IFS Cloud app hosted on IFS Cloud service (non-production) (Customer Support Portal)

IFS Cloud Environmental Cloning Service (Customer Support Portal)

Pilot Testing: Deploy the update in the test environment first. This helps identify any issues that may arise during the update process.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Involve end-users in testing to ensure that the update meets their needs and doesn’t disrupt workflows.

 

3. Communication

Stakeholder Communication: Inform all stakeholders, including users and IT staff, about the planned update, its benefits, potential downtime, and any expected changes in functionality.

Scheduled Downtime: Plan the update during a maintenance window to minimize disruption. Communicate this schedule well in advance.

 

4. Implementation

Follow Vendor Instructions: Adhere strictly to the vendor’s instructions for applying the update. This includes following step-by-step guides and using any provided tools.

Incremental Updates: If applicable, apply updates incrementally rather than jumping multiple versions simultaneously. This can help isolate issues more effectively.

Release Update (Technical Documentation)

Service Update (Technical Documentation)

 

5. Monitoring and Validation

Monitor Systems: After applying the update, closely monitor the systems for unusual behavior or performance issues.

Validate Functionality: Ensure that all critical functionalities are working as expected. This includes running key processes and checking data integrity.

 

6. Post-Update Review

Document the Process: Record the update process, any issues encountered, and how they were resolved. This documentation will be valuable for future updates.

Feedback Loop: Gather feedback from users and IT staff to identify any problems that were not immediately apparent and to improve future update processes.

 

7. Risk Management

Rollback Plan: Have a rollback plan in place in case the update causes significant issues. This should include steps for restoring from backups and returning to the previous state.

Risk Assessment: Continuously assess the risks associated with the update and have mitigation strategies ready.

 

8. Continuous Improvement

Review and Improve: After the update, conduct a review meeting to discuss what went well and what could be improved. Update your procedures accordingly.

Stay Informed: Keep abreast of new releases, patches, and best practices from the vendor and the wider user community.

 

By following these best practices, you can ensure that IFS release updates are applied smoothly, minimizing downtime and ensuring that your systems remain secure and efficient.

 

Ready to Learn More?

Book a meeting with us today to delve deeper into these best practices and tailor them to your specific needs. Our team is here to provide insights, answer your questions, and help you implement these strategies effectively.

We look forward to helping you achieve seamless and secure IFS release updates.

Align erbjuder processmodellering i 2c8

Align Consulting AB och 2c8 inleder samarbete!

Sträcker sig era affärsprocesser utanför IFS? Har ni justerat användningen av systemet efter er initiala kartläggning? Nyanställer ni?

Genom åren har vi frekvent stött på dessa dokumentationsbehov; att visuellt kunna beskriva något för att skapa tydlighet. Av den anledningen är vi väldigt glada att kunna berätta följande:

Vi har ingått ett partnerskap med 2c8 för att i verktyget 2c8 Apps kunna hjälpa er, våra kära kunder, i just detta arbete!

Oavsett om ditt behov är litet, kanske vill du kartlägga en delprocess inför ett viktigt förändringsbeslut, eller stort, du behöver dokumentera hela företagets flöden från ax till limpa, kan vi bistå. Men som vanligt är det du och ditt behov som styr: Vi dokumenterar inget i 2c8 Apps om inte du som kund ser värdet.

Vilka är fördelarna med 2c8?

Vi upplever att 2c8 är snyggt, modernt och lättarbetat, men inte minst är det smidigt för IFS-kunder eftersom grunden till dokumentationen redan är satt i just 2c8. Dvs, du som kund har redan sett det live, och startsträckan när du vill förädla, vidareutveckla och inte minst sprida informationen blir kortast möjligt. Men återigen, vi tvingar dig vare sig att modellera, eller modellera i ett specifikt verktyg – vår erfarenhet säger dock att det kan vara klokt.

Direkt efter sommaren är vi redo att börja rita!

 

Om 2c8:

2c8 äger och utvecklar programvaran 2c8 Apps – ett kraftfullt modelleringsverktyg för att kartlägga verksamheter och dess processer.

Om Align:

Align Consulting är ett oberoende konsultbolag med expertkompetens inom IFS där vi hjälper våra kunder att maximera nyttan med sin IFS-lösning. Align är kundens partner, och samarbetar i den rollen ofta, gärna och tätt med kundens andra nyckelspelare.

 

För mer info: Kontakta Aligns affärsansvarige Fredrik Aldén; fredrik@alignconsulting.se, eller VD Per Aronsson, per@alignconsulting.se.

Collaboration for success!

IFS Cloud innebär valfrihet, men också ett ökat ansvar för dig som kund. Du måste göra viktiga val när du hanterar din IFS-lösning, både på kort och lång sikt. I tidigare versioner av IFS kunde det vara svårt att få fler partners att samarbeta kring ens IFS-lösning, särskilt när det gäller anpassningar av applikationen. IFS Cloud ger dig som kund möjlighet att sitta i förarsätet och bjuda in fler att arbeta tillsammans, sida vid sida. I IFS Cloud äger du som kund lösningen samt dess anpassningar.

Hur navigera rätt?

Vilken väg just du som kund bör gå beror på flera saker: egen kompetens, strategi, verksamhetens behov, förändringstakt m.m. En viktig fråga blir vad ska vi göra själva och vad vill vi lämna till andra? Vill du själv kunna styra och ha kontroll, med en hög grad av engagemang av dina egna resurser, eller vill du överlåta ”så mycket som möjligt” till en eller flera partners? Svaren på dessa frågor kommer att avgöra vilken samarbetsmodell som väljs, både för projekt och förvaltning. Om du vill kunna förvalta lösning själv är det viktigt att bygga kompetens, och ta ansvar, redan i projektet.

IFS Cloud har en ny arkitektur. Med denna kommer en ny viktigt fråga, där lösning kommer att hanteras i ”Build Place” och användas i ”Use Place”. Vad ska placeras, var och hur säkerställs kvaliteten på helheten? Och hur hanterar man uppdateringar till nya versioner på ett effektivt sätt?

En eller flera partners? Vilken är rätt modell för dig?

  • Att ha en leverantör med monopol är bra, förutsatt att leverantören är vass på allt du behöver och dessutom ger dig sitt fulla fokus
  • Att ha flera leverantörer kan vara mer krävande men ökar flexibilitet samt tillgången till stöd

 

Varför är samarbete med flera viktigt?

Align har goda erfarenheter av att sätta upp ramar och spelregler och därmed lägga grunden för lyckade projekt och framgångsrik förvaltning, där flera partners samverkar.

Detta blir extra viktigt i en så kallad ”evergreen” strategi, vilken möjliggör snabba och enkla uppdateringar till nya versioner.

Vilken typ av samarbetsmodell ska du välja? Det finns inget rätt svar, inget svar som är rätt eller fel. Du behöver finna den väg som passar dig och ditt företag bäst. Det viktigaste är att göra en bedömning och göra ett medvetet val.

Align har lång erfarenhet av att hjälpa kunder att definiera spelregler och ramverk för projekt och förvaltning där flera parter arbetar tillsammans. Vi ser att allt fler kunder upplever ett ökat värde genom samarbete med andra. Det får även flera att vara på tå.

Lycka till!

Samarbeten kring IFS affärssystem

IFS Cloud är affärssystemsleverantören IFS namn på sina senaste versioner av sin programvara. Genom sin moderna och öppna arkitektur har IFS sinnrikt givit sina kunder ännu större möjligheter att faktiskt använda så många olika samarbetspartners man så önskar.

Det där kan såklart låta bättre än det är. Är det alltid en fördel med många samarbeten för en kund? Absolut inte, inte för alla. Att ha en och samma partner till “allt” inom ERP, ja kanske inom hela IT-området, kan absolut ge fördelar. Har du en riktigt bra motpart får du snabb och kostnadseffektiv support och proaktiv vidareutveckling av någon som verkligen kan din verksamhet. Du får högsta prioritet. Väntetiderna blir korta.

Vi tror dock att det är många som tyvärr inte riktigt upplever att det vi just beskrev stämmer med verkligheten. Är du en kund som ser förbättringspotential inom något område tror vi det är relevant och klokt att söka olika samarbeten. Då väljer du, för att måla exempel i IFS-världen, kanske ett bolag som din IFS-licenspartner, ett annat som din förvaltningspartner, ett tredje som stöttar dig i din mottagarorganisation och ett fjärde som din integrationspartner. Dessutom kontaktar du kanske något enskilt orakel du hört talas om som expert på just området du har utmaningar inom. Osv. Du kan givetvis göra fler, och helt andra, val än så.

Men, blir det inte knepigt med ansvarsfördelningen då? Det blir det absolut. Om du inte beskriver vem som ansvarar för vad. Det gör du exempelvis med stöd av enkla s.k. ansvarsmatriser, där vi själva förordar varianten som kallas RACI. Gör du detta med de involverade parterna ökar sannolikheten för framgång avsevärt. Att på så sätt använda de individer och företagskulturer du gillar, som passar din stil, dina värderingar och dina verksamhetsbehov, är mer möjligt än någonsin med IFS nya arkitektur. Ta chansen att testa. Börja i liten skala. Det är kul och givande med samarbeten!

Not: Detta med samarbeten filosoferade vi och vår kund Profoto mer kring på IFS skandinaviska användarförenings träff i Solna den 22 november samt det virtuella mötet den 8 februari. Missade du det?

Vill du veta mera? Vi berättar gärna!

Getting Started with Microsoft Power Apps with IFS Cloud

Staying ahead of the competition is crucial in today’s drastically evolving business landscape. Every organization is pursuing innovative strategies to enhance efficiency and productivity. IFS Cloud is one crucial piece of the enterprise digitalization journey, and with Microsoft Power Apps serving as the integration platform, it is possible to build mobile apps or automate business processes enriched with AI capabilities.

What is Power Apps?

PowerApps is an enterprise low-code application platform by Microsoft, and it provides a rapid development environment to build custom business apps without the need for coding expertise. Using Power Apps, you can create cross platform business applications through a simple drag-and-drop interface, workflow automation and pre-built AI models.

Power Apps and IFS Cloud

With the API driven architecture of IFS Cloud, extending on the outside and seamlessly integrating external systems like Power Apps is a breeze. Power Apps enable connecting to other external systems using connectors and we could create a custom connector to integrate IFS Cloud according to the needs.

IFS Cloud - PowerApps
Connecting IFS Cloud with Power Apps platform

 

In this post, we’ll discuss on how to connect IFS Cloud with Power Apps platform and create a simple, custom-made mobile app within few minutes!

Microsoft Power Apps documentation is a good starting point to setting up everything you need to develop on Power Apps. If you are new to Power Apps, it’s better to spend some time on reading the concept and setting up Power Apps platform for developments.

In this article we’ll discuss following key topics.

 

IFS Projections and Custom Connector

Key component of connecting PowerApps to IFS is the custom connector. A custom connector is a wrapper around a REST API that allows Logic Apps, Power Automate, or Power Apps to communicate with 3rd party APIs. In IFS terms, a Projection is equivalent to a RESTful API and you can find all the information about the API specifications, documentation using API Explorer in IFS Cloud.

There are two ways to create the custom connector for an IFS projection.

  • Build the custom connector using the OpenAPI specification which can be found in API explorer
  • Identify the projection calls you need for the integration and build the connector from scratch

 

OpenAPI specification for an IFS projection is usually heavy with many API operations which covers a business functionality within IFS Cloud. If we create the Power Apps connector using projection OpenAPI specification, you could end up creating a connector with many unwanted operations. Therefore, the best approach is to identify specific API operations and create the connector from the scratch according to your needs.

In this example, we are planning to create a simple Power Apps mobile application where a user can search a Master Part  in IFS Cloud by description and get the part details.

As the first step, we can simulate what we need in our app in IFS Cloud to find the information on the API calls using the log window or browser network debugger.

  • IFS Projection: PartHandling.svc
  • Projection Operation: PartCatalogSet
  • HTTP Verb: GET

 

We can use the API documentation in IFS Cloud API explorer to identify the URL, request/response samples and HTTP headers which are required to make the request from a 3rd party application

 

Create IAM client for Authentication

Now we have identified the API operations we need to build the connector. Next step is to create the IAM client in IFS Cloud for authentication. We are building an app for IFS end users, where a user must authenticate with IFS for using the app. This can be done by using the End User Authentication (Authorization Code Flow).

Go to IFS Cloud > IAM Client Details, create a new client. Give a client ID, description and save.

Keep the Redirect Uri blank for now. We will fill this after creating the custom connector. Copy the secret after creating the IAM client to be used in the PowerApps connector.

 

Creating the Power Apps Custom Connector

Next step is to start building the connector in Power Apps platform to connect to the IFS Projection and the operation we have identified above.

Microsoft documentation Create a custom connector from scratch is a good starting point to understand what a custom connector is and all the prerequisites needed for building one.

Go to your PowerApps environment and in the left panel, go to More > Discover All

On the discover page, you could see the link to custom connector inside the Data card.

On the New custom connector dropdown, select Create from blank.

Give a name for custom connector and in the wizard, enter the host and path to the projection in the General Information

 

In the Security step, choose OAuth 2.0 as authentication type.

Fill the client ID and secret from the IAM client which we created above. Enter the Authorization, Token and Refresh URLs.

In the Definitions step, you can add the API operations for the connector.

We have only one operation in our connector, which is to search part by description

  • Operation ID: PartCatalogSetSearch
  • Request: Use Import from sample and paste the projection call to search part by description.
    https://your-ifs-host/main/ifsapplications/projection/v1/PartHandling.svc/PartCatalogSet?$filter=(startswith(tolower(Description),'mf'))
  • Verb: GET

 

In the Response section, use add default response option and paste a sample response from projection API documentation.

Press the Create connector on the wizard to finish the setup.

Upon creating the connector, it will reveal the Redirect URL in the security tab. copy that and add as a Redirect Uri in IFS IAM client created above.

Now it’s time to test our connector! Go to the Test tab and Create a New connection. If everything is setup correctly, you will be directed to IFS login screen. enter credentials and create a new connection. Use the same filter condition and see if you can see the response.

Creating the PowerApps mobile App

It’s time to create the app. We are creating a Canvas App with a gallery and not going into details on how to create the app since there are tons of material can be found on how to create power apps.

On the Data section, select the connector we created and add as a data source.

Our App has a Text Input to enter the part description, a search button and a vertical gallery to show the response data.

In the Button function, We can call the PartCatalogSetSearch operation in the custom connector and put the response in a collection named partCatalogCollection.

Button function:
ClearCollect(partCatalogCollection, 'IFS-PartHandling'.PartCatalogSetSearch({'$filter':"(startswith(tolower(Description),'" & TextInput1.Text & "'))"}).value)

 

Set the data source of the vertical gallery to partCatalogCollection and then you can add fields from the result set.

Now it’s time to test the app in action!

Save, and Preview the app (F5). Change the layout to mobile to see the real feeling of your app 🙂

 

Once the app is completed, it’s possible to Publish and distribute to the other users in the organization.

Summary

By integrating IFS Cloud with Power Apps, you can unleash the potential of the Microsoft platform and build tailor-made applications for your organization and user requirements. Power Platform has over 600+ connectors if you need to couple with other systems and pre-built AI models to cater your unique business needs.

At Align Consulting, we are experts in leveraging the cutting-edge extendibility capabilities of IFS Cloud to seamlessly integrate with powerhouse platforms like Power Apps. We are there to help crafting bespoke, industry-grade applications that perfectly align with your unique business needs and fit for the future🚀.

Contact us today to learn more and embark on your innovation journey💡.

Contact Us – Align Consulting

Author: Damith Jinasena

IFS Cloud from a Developer’s Eye

It has been over 8 months since I started my first cloud development, and it has been a nice journey with many new things to learn; challenges and new processes to adopt. Here is my retrospective experience and some useful tips, coming from me and my colleague Asbjörn Brekke, for those stepping into IFS cloud development.

Things I liked most

Even though I worked with IFS developments for a considerable time, it was not an easy step for me to get things started since IFS Cloud development comes with a big technical leap and different tool set to adapt. But once the basic setup was done, I started to feel more comfortable since one big change in cloud development is that developers can work from the local workstation rather than a virtual desktop.

One thing I like about developing in IFS Cloud is the new web-based client framework. It gives much freedom to the developer to choose between different layouts, controllers, and design patterns. We can produce modern interfaces with rich user interface controllers in such a quick time in IFS Cloud.

Integration capabilities of IFS Cloud has been drastically improved and it’s nice to see that IFS is moving towards open standards. Hence, now we can think of many new ways of interacting with IFS through integrations.

Another plus point in IFS Cloud development is the use of git and Azure DevOps. We can do more collaborative developments, and it is possible to do unit testing in sandbox environments and identify errors before delivering to the customer. Therefore, my overall conclusion is I believe developers can deliver more quality products in IFS Cloud than in previous versions.

Points for improvements

When writing this, it has been only four major releases made in IFS Cloud. Admittedly, I’m pretty impressed by the speed it evolved through that short period of time. However, I believe it has a long way to go as well.

Performance is one of the key areas which I believe should be improved in IFS Cloud. There are two folds of performance, user performance and data performance. As developers it’s our responsibility to consider the performance impact and use new design patterns for optimized user performance. I do hope IFS will address the data performance problems which we’ve experienced on many occasions.

An area I experienced being difficult in IFS Cloud is debugging. Since most of the code is generated, a simple mistake could lead to errors, and it could take more effort for troubleshooting. Consequently, improved debugging capabilities would be helpful indeed.

Some Useful Tips

IFS Cloud has a future proof design and under the hood it carries lots of new capabilities and potential which were not there with older versions of IFS. Developing in IFS Cloud involves new thinking, and new learning. Here are some tips which I think will be useful to get the maximum benefits from IFS Cloud developments:

  • Have a good design – Having a good design is the key to success in any development. When it comes to IFS Cloud, design plays a major role since then you can wisely decide which building blocks you need to use in early stage, since changing the core logic could be a heavy effort

 

  • Think Evergreen – With IFS Cloud, IFS is moving towards an evergreen software concept. In a nutshell, that means IFS will release feature update releases twice a year, and frequent service updates. We must take that into consideration and try to avoid any developments which would disrupt IFS core logic. For example, sometimes we could provide a quick solution for a customer need by overtaking the IFS code, and the modifying it. But then, with each service or feature update, we would have to check our code and might need to do re-work to adopt to IFS changes. This would lead to high maintenance cost in the long run. Hence, we need to think smart and design our solutions to have minimal impact on the IFS core logic.

 

  • Re-Use Existing code – IFS Cloud encourages making reusable code and it can be seen everywhere in IFS core developments. Most of the time you could find the needed pieces if you look carefully into how the developments are done. It could save a lot of time and effort and cope with the evergreen concepts.

Align har positiv erfaring med IFS Cloud – og våre arkitekter deler her sine tanker!

Med IFS Cloud har IFS gitt kundene mulighet til å eie og lede utviklingen av egen IFS plattform og løsning inkludert konfigurasjoner og tilpasninger. Kunden eier utviklingen og bestemmer selv hvem som skal inviteres inn for å gjøre utvikling. Align har meget positive erfaringer med den nye åpne plattformen – IFS Cloud. Det blir en kortere implementeringssyklus fra idè til ferdig levert kode siden vi kan ivareta hele prosessen på vegne av kunden.

Korte livssykluser på utviklingsmiljø, hyppige leveranser og kort «time to market» for ny funksjonalitet krever god kontroll på grunndata, konfigurasjoner og tilpasninger. Det er også viktig å etterstrebe evergreenprinsippet, slik at risiko ved oppdateringer og releaser reduseres. Som funksjonelle og tekniske arkitekter i et IFS Cloud Prosjekt, ser vi dermed at mulighetsrommet i IFS Cloud øker kompetansebehovet på kundesiden.

 

Med IFS Cloud skjer utvikling raskt, som igjen krever en mer proaktiv tilnærming til både system og prosesser. Kjennskap til kundens forretningsprosesser og krav blir ekstremt viktig.

Vi anbefaler at våre kunder samarbeider med et kompetansehus som Align for bistand og hjelp i overgangen til IFS Cloud.

 

Birgitte Hanstad (løsningsarkitekt) og Kjetil Pedersen (teknisk arkitekt)

 

Ønsker du å vite mer – kontakt Per!