Xoom version 3.0 has been released. This release is built on top of the Windows Communication Foundation infrastructure, and exposes deeper Xoom functionality to client tools and scripts through web services. The release also features major performance and stability improvements, a new tool for implementing renames of settings in the context of a configuration clean-up, and a number of other enhancements. We summarise the new features and bug fixes below.
This release of Xoom is implemented on top of a new communication infrastructure. It uses Windows Communications Framework, Microsoft’s powerful, standards-compliant, cross-platform communication framework, as its foundation, and builds on top of that. The new communication infrastructure has numerous advantages:
- Xoom is now independent of IIS, making it much more suitable for managing applications that don’t require IIS on their own as Xoom’s use of IIS’s capabilities was minimal. This also makes Xoom resilient to badly behaved applications that sometimes kill IIS applications that they run on, which in previous versions meant that Xoom web portal was also killed as a side-effect, taking the relevant Xoom session with it.
- Xoom capabilities are now exposed via web services. This makes those capabilities much easier to use for third-party programming and scripting, in particular using Windows PowerShell. More complex automation scenarios are now possible.
- The communication channel is now tailored to the context, using named pipes for local communication (in-memory, very fast) and HTTP for remote servers (fault-tolerant, rich). The overall performance of the communication (and therefore of many Xoom operations) has been substantially improved.
- The connections between Xoom clients and servers, and between Xoom server and Service Optimization have been made more stable and reliable. All Service Optimization logon credential elements are now supported everywhere, including the installer.
- It is now possible to run the Xoom service as a stand-alone application outside of the services host for support purposes.
Communication capture and remote reconstructability
Another major feature of this release is the presence of infrastructure and a tool that allows Xoom to capture all required communications with Service Optimization, which the allows full remote reconstruction of the Service Optimization environment from the point of view of what Xoom needs for its function without needing to create the same Service Optimization environment (which is time-consuming and complex) or share a database dump (which would be much larger and would potentially expose sensitive user data). This enables powerful new uses that were not possible before, such as:
- Regression testing prior to an upgrade to a new version of Xoom without needing to actually install the new version of Xoom anywhere on customer site.
- Implementation of Xoom interpretations and customisations with quick and reliable way of verifying their effect on the configuration representation without needing to make any modifications to existing Xoom installations on the customer site before those modifications are ready to be fully deployed.
- Off-site debugging of Xoom issues as though on-site, enabling Zany Ants to locally attach to a running session using the actual customer’s DLLs and therefore resolve the problem with much greater accuracy and speed.
Other new features
- Export of administrative user settings is now supported in the Settings Migration Tool.
- Xoom Explorer has a new, simpler UI that supports retrieval of information from Xoom using named queries, removes the command panel (which was confusing to users and took a lot of screen real estate), explicitly exposes load from and save to file functionality, and optimises the space devoted to the result on the screen. The tool also reports the number of hits when used with an XPath query, which turns out to be very useful especially when the query returns a large number of hits.
- XoomToolkit now supports configuration retrieval using named queries. The general send command has been deprecated, but there is a new set command instead that allows the tool to be used for importing configuration changes. The tool now also supports any number of consecutive XSLT transformations to be called on the result, simplifying the automated generation of reports.
- A new tool that automates the deletion of unused settings and global setting renames throughout the configuration (including the creation of undo files) is now included. The tool is particularly useful in the context of configuration clean-up where unwanted settings are removed, and some or all of the remaining settings are renamed in order to conform to a naming convention that is more informative to administrators.
- A lot of system information (Xoom version number, licensing information, DLLs in use including their version numbers etc.) is now accessible through the license manager UI.
Improvements / changes
- All client tools now use common core client-side code, leading to identical results.
- Error reporting has been greatly improved, both in accuracy of the information provided and in versatility of logging configuration available.
- Further improvements in support of Service Optimization 8.
- Dramatic performance improvement in Xoom commands that don’t operate on the managed configuration, including SXP and SQL commands.
- The duplicates that sometimes appeared in multiple categories in Settings Migration Tool are now put in their correct category.
- The Xoom service now shuts down more quickly and cleanly.