Disaster recovery in WEBCON BPS

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Applies to version 8.3 and higher; Author: Tomasz Mierzwa

One of the phrases that any company employing an IT infrastructure should have written somewhere in their security policy is ‘Disaster Recovery’ – i.e. the ability to recover data in the event of a major data center failure.

The WEBCON BPS system engine operates based on multiple databases and the SharePoint platform. Therefore, the Disaster Recovery of our system should focus on creating and maintaining backup copies of the aforementioned components.

 

The WEBCON BPS system will always be made up of at least three databases – One Configuration database, one Process (aka. Content) database and one Attachment database. Optionally, more Process and Attachment databases can be created and connected to the Configuration database if necessary. Either way, all of these BPS system databases should always be backed up because they are essential to the system and store some of the most important data, such as:

  • Registered workflow instances
  • Workflow attachments
  • Process definitions
  • Database definitions
  • Set substitutions
  • Workflow service configuration
  • System configuration (e.g. HotFolders, HotMailBoxes, OCR AI Projects)
  • All permission settings regarding WEBCON BPS (access to instances, workflows, processes etc.)
  • License information
  • Translations

 

In addition the BPS system databases, it is also crucial to create a backup for SharePoint. The database of the SharePoint platform contains data that is integral to WEBCON BPS, for example:

  • The entire user interface
  • SharePoint lists, which can be used as data sources in WEBCON BPS
  • Web Parts
  • SharePoint privileges (to sites, libraries, documents, SharePoint lists etc.)
  • Farm configuration

 

In the event of a failure, which results in the inability to restore the SharePoint environment, the user will need to take the following steps in order to restore full functionality to WEBCON BPS:

  • Recreate all SharePoint lists that are used as data sources in WEBCON BPS
  • Recreate all components of the user interface (tiles and buttons for starting workflows)
  • Recreate sites and Web Parts
  • Configure the ‘WEBCON BPS Configuration’ feature on the SharePoint site, and connect it with WEBCON BPS Designer Studio.

 

As mentioned above, due to the critical importance of the WEBCON BPS system databases, there should be backup procedures in place for:

  • The Configuration database
  • All Process databases (also referred to as Content databases)
  • All Attachment databases

 

Various strategies for Disaster Recovery in SharePoint have been detailed by Microsoft on their knowledge base:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263031.aspx

 

There is also a series of publications that cover various methods and approaches to making SharePoint backups specifically:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee428315.aspx

 

It is also important to backup (snapshot) machines. In the event of a major failure, we can quickly restore the SharePoint server without needing to: install it again, implement various SharePoint solutions (WSP files), add a master page, or any other mandatory steps before restoring the pre-failure state. A backup should be created regardless of whether SharePoint is installed on a virtual machine or physical server.

 

Example 1: Crash of SQL server with both WEBCON BPS and SharePoint databases

Recovery order:

  1. Restore SharePoint data from backup
  2. Restore WEBCON BPS databases
  3. Assign privileges to service accounts that interact with SharePoint and WEBCON BPS system databases.

 

Example 2: Crash of SQL server with both WEBCON BPS and SharePoint databases + SharePoint server crash.

Recovery order:

  1. Restore the SharePoint server from snapshot
    • If the machine with SharePoint didn’t have a backup, it will be necessary to install SharePoint and again, using the exact same version that was on the server before the crash. It will also be necessary to install WEBCON BPS, also using the same version that was installed before the crash.
  2. Restore SharePoint data from backup
  3. Restore WEBCON BPS databases
  4. Assign privileges to service accounts that interact with SharePoint and WEBCON BPS system databases.
  5. If the SharePoint server’s SID was changed, it will be necessary to generate* and download a license for the specific environment.

 

*Please contact WEBCON about needing to generating a license for the SharePoint server using a specific SID.

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