This article aims to provide insight and overview into ClearPeople's Altas Deployment Process, which covers both new deployments and updates to existing platforms.
Why Upgrade Atlas?
ClearPeople are continuously updating and improving Atlas based on feedback from our user base as well as internal feedback. We aim to keep abreast of updates from Microsoft within M365, Teams, SharePoint, and everything in between. There may also be changes to industry best practices in the digital sector we consider it best to keep aligned to.
We currently push out updates to Atlas every quarter (3 months), with 1 major upgrade a year and 3 minor upgrades to ensure our user base receive a continuously improving Atlas platform, where they can take advantage of new features, functions, new configuration settings and new designs.
Self-service deployment model
Our Atlas product vision is all about empowerment and self-service. In line with this commitment, we have built a safer, faster and more self-service approach to deploy and update Atlas. As part of this, we are introducing self-service deployment from Atlas versions 4.0 onwards (August 2022).
The benefits of this are:
- ClearPeople deployment servers will no longer be required to access your infrastructure, which lowers the attach surface of your infrastructure.
- Atlas updates can be deployed in a timeframe suitable to you, ensuring more control and minimal impact to your users, especially during working hours.
- The same level of technical support will continue. Do keep us informed of your update plans and we will try to ensure dedicated resource is on standby on the day.
The deployment will require a user with high privileges in your tenant (Global Administrator for some of the steps like granting permissions to the App registrations) to run at least part of the scripts provided.
The overall upgrade process should not take more than a few hours effort.
Major vs Minor Updates
Each update will require you to complete our 'Runbook' which will provide step-by-step guidance and instructions showing how to run the Atlas scripts that will deploy or upgrade your Atlas platform to the specified version. Each update should take less than a few hours effort from the Technical IT global administrator.
Major upgrades, depending on the changes to the code within the Atlas back-end infrastructure, may require some technical pre-requisites to be completed by the technical client owners of Atlas before the update can commence. If this is necessary, we will ensure to organise a call to run through the upgrade documentation so a firm understanding of what needs to be done is communicated and can be completed accordingly.
Kicking off the Upgrade Process
The start of the upgrade process kicks-off with a ClearPeople Townhall, where our Director of Product and Product manager walk our clients through what upgrades they can expect to see in the next release and provide an overview of upcoming features in the roadmap over the next few releases. We will ensure a copy of the Townhall recording and the slide deck will be forwarded to each of our clients for their review and consideration. Questions can be answered and a call organised to showcase the new features if necessary.
From this point, if your Atlas implementation is ongoing, your ClearPeople Implementation Lead will provide further information and communication regarding the next upgrade, or, if your Atlas platform is in a Business As Usual (BAU) state, where Atlas is being used by the wider user base within your organisation, your Customer Success Agent (CSA) will be in contact to start the discussion of upgrading your Atlas to the next release.
To get some more detail on our release process check this article
Release notes are then created in a ZenDesk knowledge article (similar to this one), where the upcoming changes, features and configuration-based improvements will be provided in more detail, with in-page links providing further information and insight.
The individual from ClearPeople responsible to work with you to upgrade your Atlas will communicate available dates and provide more information if required. A date which works mutually for both parties can then be agreed and formally booked in.
To ensure you are comfortable receiving the upgrade, if additional training or screenshare is needed to provide more information on the upgrade this can also be organised.
Expected Outages During the Upgrades
Atlas will be useable over the course of the upgrades so there does not need to be any instruction provided to users not to use Atlas. However, during the upgrade some key features of Atlas, primarily Atlas ConneX and Add It tools may appear offline for 10-20 minutes.. This is to be expected temporarily and should not raise any concern.
Content can still be worked on and uploaded to Atlas and used as normal, but we advise some internal comms are sent out to advise users that Atlas is being upgraded and they may notice some unexpected behaviors during this time.
During Major upgrades, it is often best practice to instigate a content freeze - where no content is uploaded or workspaces/pages edited during the day of the upgrade. This is to ensure nothing is lost and the effort can be utilised another day outside of the times of upgrade. We can assist with what should be included in this communication.
Change Management Process
ClearPeople will raise an internal ticket for each Atlas upgrade, including our own environments, to ensure information can be tracked throughout the upgrade process for each occurrence. Tickets can then be updated if necessary and closed accordingly.
Any internal change controls or CABS needed to give the green light to Atlas upgrades should be communicated and approved before the upgrade as a pre-requisite.