On 23 March 2016, Browsium hosted a webinar: What’s New in Ion 3.7. The webinar was a huge success for the live audience and generated a number of great questions from the audience. We have compiled the complete set with answers to share with all attendees, and anyone else who is interested in the new features of Ion 3.7. If you missed the live event, you can watch the video archive on YouTube today. You can also grab the slide deck.
Read on to see the questions (and our responses) from the webinar.
Regarding the project history feature, is this just a point of reference for tracking and auditing purposes, or does this feature let users revert back to previous versions of the project?
At this point, the project history feature is just for tracking and auditing. We had some internal discussions during the development of this feature about adding capabilities typically found in higher end software development tools that have revision tracking and reversion capabilities. However, at this point, the Ion Configuring Manager is not that sophisticated and for right now we are just giving a visual history of what happened in the project.
Is there a command we can send to the Controller to force it to restart on demand or should customers continue to kill the control process for it to reload?
Yes, there is a command, the BrowsiumIonController /restart command, that can be sent to the Controller via script. The challenge with that is that Controller commands, especially /start and /restart, need to be issued with user privilege not system privilege. (This issue has been around since day one, and this is well documented in the admin guide, so there are a number of instructions in there on starting, restarting, and stopping the Controller). One of the reasons that we designed Project Update Activation the way we did, was because it was not easy for administrators to centrally script 10,000 Ion clients to restart the Controller, because they would have to do it with user privilege, which is much harder. We have had some customers do it, but the standard tools used for system management don’t do that very well. Project Update Activation, using the scheduler to update the configuration outside of normal work hours, is a much better approach.
What would you say the single biggest change between Ion 3.7 and its predecessor is?
I would definitely say Project Update Activation is the biggest change, because of that limitation I just described. Because of the challenge of restarting the Ion Controller with user privilege, Project Update Activation is very important. Again, be careful with it, used the scheduler and run it in the middle of the night. That’s a very safe way to go, as opposed to the ‘immediate’ option, which could interrupt users in the middle of their work by closing Ion-managed instances automatically.
Generally speaking, how long should a company expect deploying Ion 3.7 to take?
If they are already running Ion 3.6, then it shouldn’t take long at all. It will upgrade the Ion configuration on the fly and just work, so it should be very seamless. The release notes document in detail what has changed and any considerations when moving between versions. Generally, when you are moving between the last few versions and the current one, there are no issues.
If you are talking about a new deployment, where someone has not deployed Ion at all, the deployment part is easy. Pushing the client out and pushing a configuration out is quite easy, because again it works with all the standard system management tools that enterprises have. The hard work is application remediation. There is no single answer for that. Our customers in general, find that for complex apps like ERP or CRM system it can be a week of remediation and testing per application. Many other applications can be done in a day or even a few hours. If it is a Java swap as we saw here in my demo, where I was swapping Java three or four different times just in a few minutes, that’s very easy. What you really need to do is plan based on the complexity of your project. If you’re dealing with a lot of large applications, plan for a few weeks. If its a Java swap, it’s primarily just a matter of testing.
Can you run the 3.7 client with the 3.6 configuration file?
Yes, the Ion 3.7 client can read configuration files as far back as Ion 3.0. However, if you open the legacy configuration file in Ion 3.7 Configuration Manager it will be updated to the new format and will no longer work with older versions of Ion. So be sure you upgrade the clients to 3.7 before upgrading or changing your configurations using the newest configuration manager.
Does Ion support Edge?
What direction do you see Ion going in the future, and how will that complement the other products Browsium offers?
I alluded to this earlier in the webinar. One of the areas that we have been enhancing over time in Ion is Java management. We are doing some work now to enhance Java even further, because there are a lot of changes in the world of Java. Chrome already dropped support for Java, Firefox talks about dropping support for Java in a future release, and Edge doesn’t support it at all. So IE11 is really only the current browser that supports Java today. Oracle has even talked about dropping the Java plug-in completely, when they move to Java 9. That’s pretty frightening for enterprises, because those mission-critical Java-dependent applications aren’t going to go away. We are going to enhance our support of Java, so whatever the browser vendors do and whatever Oracle does to make it harder to run Java in the enterprise, we are going to make it easy for our customers to use Java until they no longer need it. Of course we are going to do this in a secure way. One of the things we are looking at doing is making it easier to block Java from Internet sites, while still using it on intranet applications. That way you can run Java for the applications that need it, but it’s not exposed to the web where you need to lock down security. These are a few of the enhancements we are looking at. Of course we will do other work to make project development and deployment easier for application remediation. But, we believe Java management will continue to be a key focus for Ion.