Staging RES PowerFuse 2010 Agent Deployment

Disclaimer: This is definitely something that  is not supported or endorsed by RES Software in any way shape or form. If you can avoid doing this then do not use it. Use at your own risk!

In large RES PowerFuse deployments where RES PowerFuse agents are located over a WAN link, deploying RES PowerFuse can place an unwanted strain on those WAN links during initial deployment. When the RES PowerFuse agent is first installed, it connects to the database and downloads the cache. Until this is complete (and if the Workspace Composer is enabled) a user is unable to log in.

In instances like this it is ideal to have database instances located on the local sites but this is not always possible due to licensing issues etc. If this is the case, then having 100+ agents download 50MB+ leads to a lot of unwanted bandwidth being consumed! This guide will help you stage the deployment so that the agents only download the deltas from our “database snapshot” that is deployed as and when we install RES PowerFuse.

To accomplish this, we need to think about the database structure and how the agent caches its information. The RES PowerFuse 2010 database contains GUIDs for each of the configuration database tables and a master GUID. Whenever anything is updated within the Management Console, the master GUID is updated and this update is cascaded to all corresponding configuration tables that have changed, updating their GUIDs in turn. When an agent connects it checks the master GUID and if different from its own master GUID, compares the GUIDs on each table and downloads the differences. The agent stores its cache and state information in a few places:

  • The local state of the database cache is maintained in the registry (HKLM\Software\RES\PowerFuse\UpdateGUIDs). These values are the GUIDs that the agent uses when connecting to the database. If any database configuration table GUID is different from what is stored here, an update is performed and the GUID changed to match the GUID in the central database.
  • The cached database tables are stored in XML format in the ‘%RESPFDIR%\Data\DBCache\Objects’ directory.
  • All other supporting resources are located within the ‘%RESPFDIR%\Data\DBCache\Resources’ directory and ‘%RESPFDIR%\Data\DBCache\IconCache’ directories.

Now, in theory all we need to do to pre-stage the agent cache is make sure that the UpdateGUIDs in the registry match what is in the \Objects, \Resources and \IconCache folders when the agent service is started. To capture our pre-staged “snapshot” we need to perform the following actions:

  1. Stop the RES PowerFuse agent service.
  2. Copy the \Objects, \Resources and \IconCache folders somewhere safe.
  3. Copy all the UpdateGUIDs from HKLM\Software\RES\PowerFuse\UpdateGUIDs (probably an export to a .REG file)

Herein lies the key to this operation. When we deploy the agent, the RES PowerFuse agent service is going to automatically start and proceed to populate the local cache and update the UpdateGUIDs in the registry. We do not want this to happen until we’re ready. Therefore, this is the process that we need to achieve:

  1. Install the RES PowerFuse agent unattended in the supported fashion, i.e. with Wisdom, ensuring that the agent service does not start.
  2. Copy our “snapshot” files to the \Objects, \Resources and \IconCache folders. How we do this depends on your deployment methodology. Typically the “snapshot” files would be captured as a RES Wisdom Resource Package, but it doesn’t really matter.
  3. Set the HKLM\Software\RES\PowerFuse\UpdateGUIDs registry values to our point-in-time ““snapshot” to match what is representative of the “snapshot cache” folders. Again, this can be achieved quite simply with a RES Wisdom “Apply Registry Settings” task, but could also be achieved via a batch file calling REG.EXE.
  4. Start the agent service (a reboot is still required for the kernel mode drivers to start). If we just reboot the service state is left as “Automatic” and will start after just a reboot.
  5. The agent will check the database and only download the deltas from the point-in-time “snapshot” hopefully saving a whole load of bandwidth!

The only real “gotcha” in this entire process is ensuring that the agent service does not start when the agent is installed, e.g. in Step #1 above. As the agent does not support the public properties to accomplish this we need to do it via a .MST file. To save you a whole load of time and pain we’ve kindly left one here for you called “RPF-NoServiceStartAfterInstall”.

Our example deployment command for Step #1 might look a little like this: MSIEXEC.EXE /i RES-PowerFuse-2010-SR2.msi TRANSFORMS=RPF-NoServiceStartAfterInstall.mst DBTYPE=MSSQL DBSERVER=<DatabaseServer> DBNAME=<DatabaseName> DBUSER=<DatabaseUser> DBPASSWORD=<DatabasePassword> /norestart /qn

Please remember; test and test again!

1 Comment

  1. Brian Eybs Author August 15, 2011 (7:58 pm)

    I’m working on this was 2011 and it looked like I’m close to getting this to work. There does seem to be some differences.

    I recompiled the mst to work with 2011.
    When I tested the service didn’t start. I did see that 2 pwrtech processes started. These processes updated the dbcache folder without the service running.

    I went back and found that there is a custom action in the msi…


    I removed that line and retested. The dbcache stops updating during the MSI.

    BUT… then when I restart the service at the end of the install, the verification of the dbcache doesn’t happen. When I restart I get an error that the local cache couldn’t be found.

    I’d like to manually call the pwrtech.exe at the end with the proper commandline parameters to get verify the cache and to download a license but I’m not sure what the proper parameters are given the above command is using msi parameters.

    Any thoughts for the the pwrtech command line should look like? Didn’t see anything on support page, resguru or in the admin guides.

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