Best Practices for Database and Version Upgrade and Testing

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May 23, 2014

When it is time to upgrade the version of your loan system, it is generally advantageous for a lender or servicer to do some testing of the upgrade process, especially if that servicer has their own scripts and customizations in the system. Loan accounting software is generally delivered in either a client/server or a Service as a Software (SAAS) model. In the SAAS model, IT services are handled by the SAAS provider, so many of the tests and processes detailed here are done for you. Therefore, this discussion will assume a client/server environment.

Here is a list of the optimal procedures for initiating an upgrade of the software version on the client computers and performing the database upgrade to be compatible with the new client software version. These steps assume a software platform that will automatically initiate a DB upgrade where parity of version does not exist between the client and the data base. NLS will perform such and upgrade automatically.

  1. Download or otherwise obtain the installer for the new version. In the case of NLS, licensed users may download from www.nortridge.com.
  2. Make a backup copy of your database (Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle are compatible with NLS) to use in testing the upgrade process. This is the best way to get a good idea of how long the database upgrade will actually take and will allow you to appropriately plan the timing of the actual production upgrade. This backup should be restored as a test database with a database name different from that of your production database.
  3. Select a computer to be used for the upgrade test. If this computer does not already have the Client Software installed, install your current (pre-upgrade) version of the software on that computer.
  4. Test the connection between the upgrade test computer and the upgrade test database, and make sure that you can successfully log in.
  5. Run the installer for the new version on the upgrade test computer.
  6. Launch the new version of the client software on the upgrade test computer and connect to the upgrade test database. Follow the on-screen prompts to upgrade the database. In the case of NLS, you will be shown a report of the progress of the upgrade, but some individual steps of the upgrade may take a long time (depending on the size of your database). Do not stop the upgrade process.
  7. When the upgrade is complete, test your log in to the new version of the client software and do any system testing that you desire.
  8. If reports are managed by a separate installation, download and install a report pack appropriate to your new version. Test the reports that you use on a regular basis.
  9. When you are satisfied with the testing, and ready to upgrade the production database, make sure that you have a fresh backup and that all users are off the system.
  10. Launch the new version of the client software on the upgrade test computer and connect to your production database. Follow the on-screen prompts to upgrade the database.
  11. If for any reason the upgrade attempt has failed, you must restore your database backup before attempting to upgrade again.
  12. If for any reason you decide to terminate your attempt to upgrade, you have not yet upgraded the client computers (other than the computer selected to be the upgrade test computer), and so it will only be necessary to restore your database backup in order to resume production.
  13. Once the production database has been upgraded successfully, verify that you are able to successfully log in.
  14. Install the report pack appropriate to your new version.
  15. Run the installer for the new version on each client PC and test each connection.

Following this list of steps will ensure the shortest disruption to the production system and easy restoration of the production system in the event of any problems. A little foresight and planning goes a long way.