Keeping any software package – institutional or personal – up to date with the latest corrections is both critical and challenging. SirsiDynix aims to reduce the challenge for Unicorn sites with the release of a new patch cluster process.
Traditionally, SirsiDynix’s Client Care organization installs patches for customers to correct software issues only as individual customers report the problem. This process is time consuming for customers and for SirsiDynix staff and requires that customers work with SirsiDynix to schedule the patch installation, rather than installing the patch at will. It can also be frustrating, as patches are applied only when an individual customer notices and reports an issue, rather than installed proactively so that sites can avoid experiencing problems that may have occurred at other libraries. In addition, installation of Unicorn patches has been complicated by the fact that neither SirsiDynix nor our customers have had an effective way to determine if a given patch is dependent on installation of previous patches. And then there's the question of whether the prerequisite patches have already been installed on the customer’s server.
As part of our ongoing effort to improve software quality, as well as our determination to broaden self-service options, SirsiDynix recently introduced a patch cluster process that takes advantage of a patch installation script that customers can use themselves. Client Care tested the installation script for almost a year by delivering patches to customers for Unicorn Version GL3.0. With the release of Unicorn Version GL3.1, the patch installation script can be used by customers. Even better, customers can expect a new patch cluster that includes the latest corrections and/or minor new functionality for version GL3.1 to be available every four to six weeks. Links to the most recent patch cluster will always be available from the first page of the Client Care Web site. Each new patch cluster includes not only the most recent corrections, but also incorporates the previous patch cluster, ensuring that all necessary patches will be applied, even if a given customer has not installed earlier patch clusters.
What goes in a patch?
What corrections go into a patch cluster? SirsiDynix Client Care, Technical Product Management, and Development staff meet once a week to review corrections posted in the Unicorn product line since the previous meeting. Any correction that was built to patch a significant problem at an individual customer site will automatically be included in the next applicable patch cluster. In addition, corrections that are relevant to a significant number of customers are selected for inclusion. In the first two months of the patch cluster weekly meetings, approximately 85 percent of the reviewed software corrections have been selected for inclusion into patch clusters.
WorkFlows client builds may also be included in a patch cluster, though SirsiDynix will typically try to limit new client availability to every other patch cluster in order to maximize the benefit of upgrading staff clients. Rooms/EPS and Web2 corrections have not yet been incorporated into the patch cluster process, but SirsiDynix does have mechanisms for providing corrections for those products, and we do plan to expand the self-patch process to other applicable products in the future.
Each patch cluster may include software corrections completed up to two weeks prior to availability for the cluster. Corrections posted after that cut-off time are candidates for the next patch cluster. This allows SirsiDynix time to test the patch cluster as a whole, and also allows us to complete release notes and other documentation associated with the patch cluster. The weekly review meetings also improve SirsiDynix’s ability to provide updated “known issues” in a timely fashion, as the group reviews all corrections during these meetings.
As each patch cluster incorporates the corrections in the previous clusters, there will normally be no need for multiple patches to be applied. Sites upgrading to Unicorn GL3.1 or later versions of the software for the first time will be able to complete their upgrade and then load the most recent patch cluster to efficiently take advantage of all available corrections for the version. In addition, since sites already on GL3.1 can expect the latest self-installable patch cluster every four to six weeks, staff can look forward to regular progress on reported issues, and system administrators can schedule installation of patches at the most suitable time without contacting Client Care.
Client Care has new tools that make it easy to determine whether the most recent patch cluster has been installed at a given site, vastly improving troubleshooting for known issues. Both customers and SirsiDynix staff have immediate access to improved “known issues” and cumulative patch cluster release notes, so determining whether a suspected or reported problem has already been corrected is far easier.
Client Care still available
There will be occasions when a patch will still need to be installed by Client Care staff or obtained via a call to Client Care. An example of this would be a patch that is issued between patch clusters to correct a significant problem that cannot be delayed until the next patch cluster release. In this case, sites may still be able to install the patch themselves, but will need to obtain the information on how to retrieve the patch from Client Care.
Up to date the easy way
Taking advantage of patch clusters is an excellent and straightforward way for Unicorn customers to keep up to date on the latest Unicorn corrections. The process is designed to permit stress-free installation of patches on a schedule that works for the individual library. We see the patch cluster process as yet another great reason for upgrading to Unicorn Version GL3.1!
For more information regarding the installation and use of the patch cluster tool, please visit: