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The information in the following sections describe the administrative benefits that you gain from a standardized application server setup.
Installing the same application for multiple users on local disks uses extra disk space, requires more time, and becomes a support burden. You must perform upgrades at multiple locations. When problems arise, you may have to deal with multiple versions of the same application.
When you provide an NFS-shared installation, you reduce local disk installations. You save time by reducing the number of systems that you must support. When multiple users share access to a single read-only copy of an application, you perform fewer installations and upgrades, and simplify troubleshooting by assuring that users are executing the same code.
Consolidate Your Installations
Even NFS-shared applications can be difficult to maintain if they are scattered among too many locations. Sometimes applications have been installed on a users system or on a server. As demand for the application develops, users share it from the original location. Users frequently pass the word to other users about where they can mount the application from. In such a situation, users may draw on inconsistent or unreliable sources and experience confusion regarding where they should get applications.
To solve this problem, designate dedicated application servers. Sharing all standard applications from the same server offers users a reliable source and lets you keep track of where maintenance is needed.
Hopefully, you are already using NFS and dedicated application servers in your application environment.
Standardize Server Layouts
Your environment, like that at Sun, may require many application servers to service different networks, buildings, and regions. If so, commit to using the same file system layout on all application servers. Although the contents of different application servers may vary from one server to another, the locations of individual applications should be consistent. A unified file system naming scheme simplifies user paths and reduces the updates required when user moves dictate their change from one application server to another. This approach also simplifies the process of copying (distributing) applications from a master installation server to production servers, since the destination file system is the same.
Sometimes in comparing two locations where a product has been installed, you cannot tell whether the contents of like-named directories are intended to be the same or different; you have no outward clue. SunSoft recommends that you install applications in directories with names that identify both the product and the version. That lets you and others know what the directories contain. In addition, you can maintain multiple versions of an application at the same directory level.
In some environments, you must perform maintenance at numerous locations for each change. Using wrappers and a common command directory reduces the number of locations where attention is needed, limits them to servers, and leverages the results for all users.
Synchronize Version Cutovers
In the traditional UNIX environment, you may find it difficult to convert to a new application version quickly because of the number of changes to the user environment that may be required. Using symbolic links to control all the versioning at this level, and using wrappers that immediately provide any necessary user setups, can help to speed up, and to synchronize, cutovers. It can be difficult to know who is using particular applications, or whether some applications are being used at all.
Wrappers can increase usage visibility if you code them to report to a central location by email each time the product starts up.
The information in these sections describes the administrative benefits you gain from a standardized user environment setup.
Simplify User Mount Points
When users access applications from a variety of locations or even from multiple file systems on a dedicated server, they need a variety of mount points. You, as system administrator, probably have to maintain the information that supports these mounts. Regardless of whether you perform this maintenance on individual user systems or by using automounter maps, the fewer times you need to update the user environment, the more time you save.
Simplify User Path Requirements
When you configure dedicated application servers so that all applications are accessible from a single file system, users need only one mount, which may not need to be updated. Even when the contents of the file system that users are mounting change, the mount point remains the same.
Maintaining path updates for users may be an unnecessary burden. If users have the right path, you do not need to change it. The right path is one whose standard component(s) provide ongoing access to all applications.
Reduce Runtime Conflicts
The settings that some applications need at runtime may be in conflict with those needed by others. Wrappers tailor one process environment without affecting others.
Simplify User Relocations
User moves can impose a tremendous burden, because many user setups in a nonstandard environment are customized. Using wrappers and simplified user mounts and paths can drastically reduce the updates required to reinstate application service after a move. In some cases, you need change only the server name for the users mount.
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