Service pack

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The PARS Service Pack is used to install PARS and to perform version updates. This must be performed on the IIS server that is hosting or is going to host PARS. Users will be kicked out of PARS when the Service Pack is run.

Prerequisites before installing PARS

TASC infrstructure test

A program must be run to test the network infrastructure prior to installing PARS. The program will test the number of times that the SQL server can create, amend and delete SIMS Lookups in a 5 minute period. This will indicate the SQL performance of SIMS, which is vital to PARS.

The results of the infractructure test will automatically be sent to the TASC support team, who will contact you if the tests indicate a cause for concern. The infrastructure test program is available here:
TASC Infractructure Test

Once you have downloaded the .exe file, place it in the SIMS.net folder of the IIS server on which PARS will be installed. If you do not yet have an IIS server ready for this purpose then you can also use a regular SIMS workstation (an IIS server is preferable if possible).

Run the .exe file from within the SIMS.net folder. You will be prompted to enter a SIMS username and password - the account used should have administrator access within SIMS. The test will take 5 minutes to run and will then atempt to post the results of the test to the TASC Software Support Team. If this is not successful you will need to email the results of the test to sales@tascsoftware.co.uk

Hardware Requirements

*Do not install PARS on your SIMS SQL server*

Minimum Spec

  • 4 Cores
  • 8 - 16gb Ram
  • 64bit OS (2012 preferably)
  • IIS7 or above
  • 1000mb NIC

Recommended Spec

  • 8 Cores
  • 32gb Ram
  • OS server 2012
  • 1000mb NIC

Software Requirements

The server hosting PARS must have the following:

  • Windows Server 2008 Web Edition (or above)
  • IIS7 (or above)
  • Microsoft.Net Framework 4.6.2
  • SIMS Workstation Components

NOTE: It is important that on the IIS server the order of installation is Windows -> Webserver software -> .net software

NOTE: PARS is dependent on a valid SIMS.INI file and cannot function in the absence of or corrupted SIMS.INI file in the windows folder.

IIS7 / IIS7.5

Web Server

Common HTTP Features
Static Content
Default Document
HTTP Errors
HTTP Redirection
Application Development
ASP .NET
.Net Extensibility
ASP
ISAPI Extensions
ISAPI Filters
Security
Windows Authentication
Management Tools
IIS Management Console
IIS Management Scripts and Tools
IIS 6 Management Compatibility
IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility

IIS8

Add ASP.net 4.5
All other options can be left as their default.

Downloading the Service Pack

Download the latest PARS Service Pack from our website, www.tascsoftware.co.uk. You will need to have your helpdesk login details available for this. If you have forgotten your login details, or have never had an account, you can contact us using our website contact page. Alternatively, you can call us on 01902 824281.

When you have logged into our website, you will see a list of available downloads. PARS Connect and PARS .Net updates are both contained in the PARS service pack.

Downloads2.jpg

Installing or Updating (running the Service Pack)

Once you have downloaded the latest Service Pack, run it on the IIS server. A window will open - follow the steps below to install or update PARS Connect.

Prerequisites

This tab will check that you have the required prerequisites in order to install or update PARS. If any components are missing, install them then rerun the PARS Service Pack.

Prequisites.jpg

Application

This tab allows you to select the website where PARS will be installed.

Installation

You should see a message box asking whether you wish to perform a new install. If you do not see the window below, contact our Online Helpdesk.

Newinstall.jpg

You will see "Default Web Site" and "Create new website", as well as the names of any other websites hosted by this IIS server. We recommend installing PARS as a new website. However if you do not know where to install the files for the PARS website, you can use the Default Web Site instead.

Updating PARS

If you see a message box like the one below, please contact our Online Helpdesk.

Newinstall.jpg

You will see a list of websites here, one of which should have an asterisk (*) after its name and will already be selected. If you can see multiple sites with an asterisk after their names then PARS has been installed more than once.

You should then see a window like the one below:

Application03.jpg

Database

At this stage the Service Pack will check the connection to the SIMS database. If the Service Pack cannot find your SIMS database, you will need to find out why then resolve the issue before running the PARS Service Pack. Running SIMS on the server may provide some clues as to why the PARS Service Pack could not connect to the SIMS database.

Database2.jpg

Installation

If you are installing PARS you will be asked for your SQL System Administrator (sa) password.

Sapwd.jpg

Enter your SQL sa password then click "Connect".

Updating

If you are updating PARS for the first time since migrated your SIMS SQL server, you may be asked for your SQL SA password. If this is not the case and you are being asked to provide an SA password when updating PARS then do not proceed any further and contact our Online Helpdesk.

Session State

This tab gives options for handling the session state of logged in users. If you are unsure of which option you need to select, or do not know the pros and cons of each option, then you should choose In Process.

Sessionstate2.jpg

SIMS Workstation

This tab of the Service Pack will stop IIS. If you need to perform a SIMS update you must run the Service Pack up until this point - and not proceed any further - then leave the Service Pack open and perform the SIMS update. Once SIMS has been updated the Service Pack can be continued.

Service pack SIMS.jpg

Commit

As long as there are no errors, you will not see this tab. The installer will skip past this tab and perform all of the steps for you.

Commit01.jpg

A window will open explaining whether or not the Commit tab ran successfully. If everything was successful then the window will disappear after 5 seconds. Otherwise the window will stay open telling you what went wrong.

Auto success.jpg

Auxiliary

If your window looks like the one below then the installation or update has completed successfully and you can click the "Finish" button to finalise it.

Auxiliary02.jpg

If you see the following image then the Service Pack thinks that the server you have used is not your main PARS IIS server. If this is correct, click "Finish".

Whichmain.jpg

If this server is your main PARS IIS server (perhaps because you have migrated your server) then select "Yes", then click "Finish".

Extras

CAPTCHA

If you wish you can set a CAPTCHA which will be required for users to log in to PARS Connect. To enable this, find the web.config file on the IIS server (by default it is found in c:\inetpub\wwwroot\pars) and open the file in Notepad. Find the lines of text below and make sure that "value" is set to "On".

<setting name="CAPTCHA" serializeAs="String">
  <value>On</value>
</setting>

Configuring External Route

If you want PARS to be accessible on machines outside of the school network, you will need to ensure that a route is configured from outside to the PARS Connect IIS server. Although the details will change according to the environment your PARS server operates in, the principle remains the same. Your school will have a static IP address that it presents to the Internet, and you will have to forward requests to this address, on the port chosen for PARS when installing, to the internal network address of the PARS server on the same port, for example:

Assuming your schools external IP address is 62.63.64.65, and your PARS server's internal network address is 10.0.0.20, and that PARS is installed to listen on TCP port 1595, the forwarding rule would be 62.63.64.65:1595 is to be forwarded to 62.63.64.65:1234.

This rule would normally be configured either at the school's main incoming router, or you may have to put in a change request to your LA to have this facility enabled - again, details will vary according to circumstance.

When you know the external address you will be using, you can either embed this in your school's main web site as a link, or distribute it as is.

As a final note, it is strongly suggested that you install and use an SSL certificate on the PARS server, and also that it is not a self-signed certificate, unless you will be also using the server as a root certificate authenticator.

Although not authoritative, the example below may help you to with this stage.

Network topology.jpg

SSL certificate

To encrypt traffic between the server and client and to enable https for Insight, an SSL certificate will be required. This can be purchased in advance of installing Insight (the URL that will be used for Insight and the name of the server that Insight will be installed on will be required).

An SSL certificate is not required when installing Insight initially and can be acquired after installation.

To associate the certificate with the site, first follow the instructions from your certificate provider both to apply for and receive the certificate.

Once you have acquired an SSL certificate, the Insight traffic can be encrypted by following these steps:

  • Open IIS Manager. Under the Sites folder, select the Insight site
  • On the Actions panel, click the Bindings option in the Edit Site section
  • A Site Bindings window will open. Click the Add button
  • Another window will open to Add Site Bindings. Set the Type to https and the SSL certificate to your certificate. The port over which traffic is secured is usually 443

If port 443 is already in use, you can enter the host name of your Insight site so that port 443 can be shared. The host name is the Insight URL that is used outside of the school, without any page extensions or https prefix e.g. Insight.MySchool.co.uk