You can safely test changes in Alma (or Leganto) using the Alma sandbox environment. The Alma sandbox provides a means for you to develop, test, and train without compromising the data in your Alma production environment. The Alma sandbox is completely isolated from your Alma production environment. Any actions performed in the Alma sandbox do not affect your Alma production environment and any actions performed in your Alma production environment do not affect the Alma sandbox. For more information on Primo sandbox interactions with Alma, see Alma-Primo Integration Post-"Go Live".
As part of Alma’s standard offering, included as part of the Alma subscription, Ex Libris provides an Alma standard sandbox. This sandbox contains a significant amount of data (about 70,000 records) provided by Ex Libris that you can use for staff training and testing Alma business scenarios, new enhancements, and integration with other systems, without affecting your production environment.
After "Go Live", Ex Libris also offers an Alma premium sandbox (for an additional annual fee). This sandbox contains a full replication of the data and configurations from your production environment. It can also be used for training, testing, and development purposes. When you purchase the premium sandbox, it replaces your standard sandbox.
- Most Alma customers use the standard sandbox available from Ex Libris as part of the standard offering. The premium sandbox may be relevant in specific cases, as described below in Differences Between the Standard and Premium Sandboxes.
- A single institution cannot have both a standard sandbox and a premium sandbox simultaneously.
- The sandbox environments are updated with the new Alma monthly release, two weeks before the general release to the production environments (typically, this means that the sandbox environments are updated on the second to last Sunday of each month; refer to the exact release schedule published by Ex Libris).
- The first premium sandbox refresh is typically delivered shortly following "Go Live" if the actual purchase of the premium sandbox takes place prior to "Go Live". However, when the premium sandbox is purchased after "Go Live", the first premium refresh may take a few weeks to process.
- Leganto and Alma share the same sandbox infrastructure. Therefore, acquiring or enabling the Alma premium sandbox enables the Leganto premium sandbox.
During the initial phase of implementation, Ex Libris provides access to the Alma standard sandbox, which you use to learn and become familiar with Alma as your institution is undergoing Alma training. For more information on logging into Alma and Alma domains, see Your Alma Domains
As you progress in your implementation of Alma, you continue to use the Alma standard sandbox for training purposes. During training, focus on end-to-end business processes and prepare your project team to review product functionality and test data migration following the delivery of the Alma production environment. After you receive your Alma production environment during the implementation phase, the majority of your implementation work will take place on the Alma production environment until "Go-Live." However, it is still common to continue to use the standard sandbox to assist in configuring your required integration and authentication setup, and to perform internal staff training. Upon "Go-Live," when your Alma production environment contains your "live" data, the sandbox remains an especially useful environment for ongoing staff training and testing new features with each Alma release, before using these features on your live Alma production environment.
If you are using your sandbox for authentication with one of your IdP authentication systems, you must ensure that your sandbox domain/URL is recognized by your IdP system.
If you purchased a premium sandbox, you can request the replacement of your standard sandbox with the premium sandbox following "Go Live". The premium sandbox contains all of your institution's data and configurations.
From "Go-Live," institutions with an Alma premium sandbox are entitled to request a refresh of the sandbox from their production environment up to once every quarter. Institutions with an Alma standard sandbox are entitled to request a refresh from the clean, standard Ex Libris training data up to once every quarter. Each sandbox refresh is not performed automatically; you must request one explicitly. To request a sandbox refresh, you must open a support case in the Ex Libris customer center CRM indicating your institution's name and the desired time frame for the sandbox refresh. You must provide at least 30 days notice between the request and the desired refresh date (refresh requests may not be for future quarter schedules). Ex Libris will schedule the sandbox refresh based on the request and availability of cloud operation scheduling, and will update you with the final planned schedule through the CRM support case. As noted, premium sandboxes may be refreshed only between the first Sunday and the second to last Sunday of every month, while the Alma versions of production and sandbox environments are the same (a requirement for the sandbox refresh). Standard sandbox refresh requests may be scheduled and refreshed without this specific version restriction.
During the actual refresh process (which typically lasts up to 4-5 days, depending on the institution size), the sandbox will be unavailable. You can track the status of the sandbox refresh and availability from the Sandbox Management page. Once completed, the CRM support case is updated accordingly.
To view the status of your Alma sandboxes, see Sandbox Management.
See Recommended Configuration to Account for Sandbox Refresh for one-time steps to perform so that authentication on your sandbox continues to work seamlessly after every refresh without any additional configuration, or with minimal configuration.
The following table lists the differences between the standard and premium sandboxes for several key areas and tasks within Alma.
|Area of Alma||Task||Supported Sandbox Type|
|Training||Alma training during implementation||Standard (premium not available before "Go Live")|
|Try out and learn new functionalities and features following a release; ongoing training following "Go Live"||Both standard and premium|
|Data services||Load patron records||
|Import bibliographic data (including e-books, digital resource metadata, and authority records)||
|Publish bibliographic data to the Primo sandbox||
Note that changes to records in the Alma sandbox will be seen within the Primo VE sandbox.
Load digital objects to the Alma cloud storage (Amazon S3)
For the premium sandbox, files that belong to records that are refreshed from the production environment can be viewed, but cannot be modified.
|Perform global data changes||Both standard and premium|
|Search for records in the Community Zone, see what e-records are available, activate global e-inventory in the Institution Zone||Both standard and premium|
|Fulfillment and courses||Test changes to fulfillment such as fulfillment configuration, loans, requests, fine/fee assignment, notices, and courses||Both standard and premium
Standard is limited to 1,000 reading lists (including Leganto).
|Acquisitions||Perform trial runs of EDI and EOD||Both standard and premium|
|Perform trial runs of fiscal period closure||Both standard and premium|
|Test acquisition workflows, such as purchase order claims and cancellations, or returns of material||Both standard and premium|
|Export requests for payment||Both standard and premium|
|System administration||Test changes to authentication settings||Both standard and premium|
|Test changes to configuration settings||Both standard and premium|
|API integrations testing||Test Alma API developments
Analytics APIs are not available on either a standard or premium sandbox. They are available only in a production environment.
|Both standard and premium|
|Data and configuration refresh||Refresh the sandbox data and configuration. This deletes all data and configuration on the sandbox and replaces it with:
The refresh is handled by opening a support case in the Ex Libris customer center CRM
|Both standard and premium – Up to once per quarter|
|Logo customization||Customize the sandbox with your own logo and color scheme. Note that a sandbox refresh resets all customizations performed on the sandbox.||Both standard and premium|
The following are additional considerations to take into account regarding the Alma sandboxes:
- If you are centrally managing multiple institutions with sandboxes, such as in a consortia, one institution is designated the "contract lead", with access to information about all of the sandboxes. Other institutions have access to their own relevant sandbox (if any). Note that you do not have to implement a Network Zone to centrally manage sandboxes for multiple institutions.
- Neither the Alma premium nor the Alma standard sandbox includes Alma Analytics. Alma Analytics runs on top of a designated data warehouse (not on top of production data), in a read-only mode. Since production data is not impacted, it is safe to use the Alma Analytics available using the production environment to test and develop new reports (a sandbox is not required).
- In an Alma standard sandbox, data and configurations on the sandbox are reset with every sandbox refresh. In an Alma premium sandbox, all data and configurations are copied from your production environment as part of a refresh. These replace any data and configurations on the sandbox. The premium sandbox refresh cannot take place in the two weeks between sandbox and production releases while the two releases are different.
- Both the Alma premium and Alma standard sandboxes are limited to 30 active/distinct users who may log in (you may create generic users for sandbox login such as TEST_1, TEST_2, and so forth).
- A single institution cannot have both a standard and a premium sandbox environment. Following "Go Live", you must choose between these two options.
For a collaborative network, Ex Libris provides two Alma standard sandboxes as part of the Alma standard subscription. If your collaborative network implements a Network Zone, Ex Lirbis provides an additional Alma standard sandbox for the Network Zone, which is linked to the two Alma standard sandbox members. A collaborative network acquiring the premium sandbox option can choose the number of premium sandboxes to acquire (based on sandbox guidelines noted below). Typically, a collaborative network implementing a Network Zone purchases a Network Zone premium sandbox (a copy of the Network Zone), and several premium sandboxes to serve as copies of selected representative member institutions. If any member institution opts to acquire a premium sandbox, you must purchase a Network Zone premium sandbox as well. Additionally, while not required, it is recommended in this situation that at least one other member institution opt for a premium sandbox to facilitate collaborative workflow testing, which requires more than one member. Standard and premium sandboxes cannot be mixed within a collaborative network (they must all be standard or all premium). If one institution member opts for a premium sandbox, all of the other entitled sandboxes in the network, including the Network Zone, must upgrade to premium as well.
|Implementing a Network Zone||Default Standard Sandboxes||Recommendations for Premium Sandboxes|
|Yes||Total of 3:
|No||2 standard shared by all institutions||
In addition, If you are implementing a Network Zone, the Network Zone is the "contract lead" when you are managing multiple sandboxes for the institutions in your collaborative network. Otherwise, any institution may be the contract lead.
As discussed in Overview of the Alma Sandbox Environments, the Alma sandbox and production environments are completely separate from one another and cannot impact one another. The sandbox provides you with a safe environment for training and testing.
The following table delineates the main differences between the Alma sandbox (both standard and premium) and your production environments.
|Area of Alma||Alma Production||Alma Sandbox|
|Email services||Email services are active by default, using real email addresses that were loaded to Alma from SIS and other sources||Email services are disabled by default. You can activate the email services (for testing purposes) by entering email addresses in the Email Include List mapping table (see Configuring Allowed Emails). Email services are handled in this manner in order to prevent unintended emails from being sent.|
|Alma Analytics||Provided as part of Alma and accessible to Alma users. Alma Analytics supports the creation and testing of new reports without distributing them, providing limited access to specific users. This enables you to test new reports prior to their distribution.||Alma Analytics is not part of the sandbox. Instead, new reports can be safely created and tested in your production environment before distributing them to production users. Analytics APIs can also be used with a production environment and are read-only in nature.|
|Number of users||Limited according to your subscription parameters||Limited to 30 active/distinct users who may log in.|
|Integrations with third-party systems||All integration interfaces are available and enabled by default.||
FTP for publishing to Primo is available in a modified form (see below).
Other integrations involving FTP are disabled by default. You can enable specific FTP addresses for communication by entering FTP host names/IP addresses in the FTP Include List mapping table (see Configuring Allowed S/FTP Connections During Testing). This enables the testing of FTP-related integrations with third-party systems.
All other integration interfaces are available and enabled by default.
|Community Zone contribution Jobs||Ability to contribute bibliographic record changes and other electronic resources to the Community Zone is available from the production environment. You can define publishing and other jobs as required.||Users of sandbox environments can use the Community Zone, but will not be able to make changes or contribute material to the Community Zone from sandbox environments.
The automatic scheduling of jobs is unavailable on sandbox environments.
You can run jobs manually on demand by selecting Run Now (when available) on the profile configuration page, or by selecting Run Now for the job in the Scheduled tab on the Monitor Jobs page (Administration > Monitor Jobs).
|Publishing to Primo and the Primo sandbox||You can define the publishing to Primo job as required.||The Alma premium sandbox can publish up to 10K selected records to the Primo sandbox (premium or standard)|
|Environment infrastructure||The Alma production environment runs on a highly scalable infrastructure, using high availability and redundancy capabilities across all layers of the infrastructure.
The production infrastructure can scale and accommodate a high performance load.
|Sandbox environments use scaled-down infrastructure that provide you with cost-effective testing environments.
The sandbox environment does not match the production environment in sizing/strength and cannot be used to benchmark/time batch loading of records or performance of API calls.
|Digital objects in the Ex Libris cloud||The production environment includes the digital resource metadata and all the digital objects loaded to the Ex Libris cloud storage, according to the subscription agreement.||Sandbox environments (premium or standard) do not contain a replication of the digital objects that were loaded by the customer to the Alma production environment. Note that the premium sandbox will contain the digital resource metadata.|
There are two types of Primo sandboxes: standard (containing up to 100,000 records) and premium (containing a full replication of your data). They are referred to generically in this section as Primo sandbox. Note that the Primo premium sandbox is an add-on option that must be purchased separately from Alma. For more information on the Primo sandbox, see Primo Sandbox
For the initial population of a Primo sandbox, use the same published files from your Alma production environment's initial full Primo publish (done when you go-live with Alma). If the Primo sandbox is premium, all initially published records are loaded to Primo sandbox, otherwise, a selected set of those initially published records from Alma production (up to 100,000) are loaded to Primo sandbox.
The best practice for optionally integrating your Primo sandbox with Alma after Alma and Primo go-live depends on whether you have an Alma standard sandbox or an Alma premium sandbox.
Since an Alma standard sandbox has standard Ex Libris configuration and data and will not match your Primo configuration setup with your institution's settings, the Alma standard sandbox does not link to any Primo. Institutions with an Alma standard sandbox can use their Alma sandbox as a test environment (not connected to Primo) for testing new Alma functions and features.
Instead, your Primo sandbox can be set up to communicate with your Alma production environment. This enables ongoing tests between Primo sandbox and Alma production (of changes in areas such as Primo normalization rules or the Primo user interface) on the Primo sandbox, while using live data from your Alma production environment to vet those Primo-side changes. Since this model potentially updates the Alma production environment with any user request or My account actions done from the Primo sandbox testing, all tests should be done in a controlled and limited manner. For information on how to link a Primo sandbox to an Alma production environment, see How to allow production Alma to return responses to a sandbox Primo.
The following diagram presents this setup:
Primo Sandbox Working with an Alma Production Environment
On an ongoing basis, a Primo standard sandbox can be updated by loading select records published from your Alma production environment, while a Primo premium sandbox can remain current using the ongoing publishing pipes based on the full incremental changes occurring to the data on Alma production.
In the above model, all test user requests submitted from the Primo sandbox environment enter into the Alma production system. It is suggested that these tests are done with a specific staff or specially defined test user on Alma production.
An Alma premium sandbox has your full configuration and data replicated from your Alma production environment, which matches your Primo premium sandbox setup. This setup allows the Alma premium sandbox to link to the Primo sandbox for fully integrated testing.
As part of an Alma premium sandbox refresh, Ex Libris Support performs a full Primo publishing. This data is then pushed from Primo production to your Primo premium sandbox. If you harvest the data that is published to your Primo production environment (which is then pushed to your Primo premium sandbox), your Alma and Primo sandbox environments will be synchronized.
If you are working with a Primo standard sandbox, you can publish up to 100,000 records only, in installments of sets that include up to 10,000 records. The full publishing following an Alma premium sandbox refresh is not relevant if you are working with the Primo standard sandbox.
In order to perform specific, targeted tests, you can publish some records (up to 10K) from your Alma premium sandbox to your Primo sandbox. The Alma sandbox publishes these records to a dedicated sub-directory of the same FTP location used by Alma and Primo production. These records are then retrieved by the Primo sandbox. If your Alma sandbox is not currently set up to work with your Primo sandbox (this is generally handled during the implementation process), you can set up your Alma sandbox as described in Linking Primo Sandbox to Alma Sandbox and Linking Alma Premium Sandbox to Primo Sandbox below. The Primo sandbox then communicates with the Alma sandbox for all user actions, such as requests and My Account.
The following diagram presents the Primo sandbox’s communication with the Alma premium sandbox:
Primo Sandbox Working with the Alma Premium Sandbox
- Your Alma premium sandbox environment is a full replication of your Alma production environment. It includes all of your institution's configurations and records. Your Primo sandbox environment may have only a partial representation of your institution's records (depending on your Primo sandbox model). So you may have records in your Alma sandbox that are not in your Primo sandbox.
- To test discovery of specific Alma records, you can publish a select set of records (up to 10k) from the Alma premium sandbox to the Primo sandbox.
- Primo sandbox is configured to work with Alma premium sandbox, so ensure that Primo configuration export/import is not done between Primo sandbox and Primo production or vice versa (the target Primo environment would then be—at least initially—working with the wrong Alma environment). If this must be done, reset the Primo-defined Alma URLs to the correct Alma environment immediately afterwards (see Linking Primo Sandbox to Alma Sandbox below) to avoid any cross-sandbox/production mishaps.
To link your Primo sandbox to Alma:
- In your Primo sandbox environment, ensure a single ILS API base URL entry for the relevant Alma environment (Alma production if you have Alma standard sandbox or Alma sandbox if you have Alma premium sandbox) exists. If not, update or add a mapping row to the OPAC using Primo – ILS API Configuration mapping table (Primo Home > Advanced Configuration > All Mapping Tables) that specifies a single row URL for the relevant Alma environment. For example:
API Base URL configuration for communication with the Alma environmentNote that this page should already contain a mapping row for your Alma production environment (defined by Ex Libris), so institutions working with Alma standard sandbox may not need to update this table. Institutions working with Alma premium sandbox will likely need to update the ILS API Base URL with the Alma sandbox URL to replace the Alma production URL.
- In your Primo sandbox environment, ensure all three Delivery Base URL references to Alma in the Institution Wizard (Primo Home > Ongoing Configuration Wizards > Institution Wizard) refer to the correct Alma environment (Alma production URL for Alma standard sandbox or Alma sandbox URL for Alma premium sandbox).
Alma URL references in the Primo Sandbox Institution Wizard
- Ensure that the authentication setup in your Primo sandbox is pointing to the appropriate Alma environment (Alma production URL for Alma standard sandbox or Alma sandbox URL for Alma premium sandbox). If you are still using PDS, your authentication remains directed at Alma production, and authentication relies on your existing users from Alma production. For other institutions using Primo's authentication manager, ensure the parameters ALMA_LOGIN_URL and USER_INFO_URL on the Login Profile page (Primo Home > Ongoing Configuration Wizards > User Authentication Wizard) refer to the correct Alma environment (Alma production URL for Alma standard sandbox or Alma sandbox URL for Alma premium sandbox).
For more information on Primo authentication setup, see Primo User Authentication
- Ensure that a pipe definition exists on the Primo sandbox which connects to the appropriate FTP location where Alma publishes its Primo data. If not, and you are unable to set up the relevant credentials in the Primo sandbox pipe, open a support case with the title Credentials needed for harvesting published Alma records to Primo sandbox. For Primo sandbox pipe definition setup for working with Alma premium sandbox, add an additional sub-directory in the pipe definition as noted in Linking Alma Premium Sandbox to Primo Sandbox.
- Deploy any changes in the Primo back office by entering and choosing the deploy option from Primo Home > Deploy and Utilities > Deploy All
To link your Alma premium sandbox to your Primo sandbox:
Perform the steps in the above procedure (Linking Primo Sandbox to Alma Sandbox), and then perform the following steps.
- In your Alma premium sandbox environment, configure Alma to use the same Primo URLs that the Primo sandbox uses (in order to allow successful communication between Alma and Primo):
For information on these two parameters and their syntax, see Configuring Other Settings.
- Enter the URL of the Primo sandbox login page in the primo_pds_url parameter.
- Update the primo_service_page_url parameter with the Primo sandbox service page URL (which also allows Leganto and course-related communication with the Primo environment denoted).
- Ensure that:
- The Primo publishing profile on Alma sandbox is active and configured like it is in production (by default, after a premium sandbox refresh, it should be identical to production). Although you cannot schedule publishing on the Alma sandbox, you can publish up to 10K records using the on-demand job Primo Republish Set of Titles.
- On the Alma sandbox, all relevant FTP host names/IP addresses are in the FTP Include List mapping table (see Configuring Allowed S/FTP Connections During Testing).
- The values of the above Alma parameters are restored to the values of the Primo production URL when your Alma premium sandbox environment is refreshed by your Alma production environment. To re-enable your Alma premium sandbox to work with your Primo sandbox, reconfigure these parameters following a refresh.
- After an Alma premium sandbox refresh, the Primo sandbox may become slightly out of sync with the newly refreshed Alma sandbox data. A full publish from Alma premium sandbox is done by Ex Libris as part of the Alma sandbox refresh process. Like all changes in this setup, this full publish does not affect the production environments. This published data may be optionally loaded by your institution to synchronize your Primo sandbox, according to the Primo sandbox allowances (Up to 100K records for Primo standard sandbox or all Alma records for Primo premium sandbox). A full Primo publish process cannot be performed and may not be requested separately from an Alma premium sandbox refresh process.
- In your Primo sandbox environment, change the FTP location of the pipe from which to import records. The Primo publishing profile on the Alma sandbox appends /sandbox onto the subdirectory of the target FTP server; this ensures that the Alma and Primo production and sandbox servers publish and harvest to/from different locations. For example, if your Alma production environment exports MARC 21 data to the directory a/b/c, the Alma sandbox environment exports to the directory a/b/c/sandbox. You must define the Primo pipe definition with the same directory location (with /sandbox) for harvesting those Alma premium sandbox published records. For more information on Alma's Primo publishing and Primo's harvesting, see Publishing Alma Data to Primo and Harvesting and Publishing Alma Records in Primo
To test publishing between Alma premium sandbox and Primo sandbox with a select set of records (up to 10k):
- Create a set of titles on the Alma sandbox.
- Run the Primo Republish Set of Titles publishing profile on the Alma sandbox.
- Harvest to the Primo sandbox by running the pipe (for example, with pipe name: <customer_code>_ALMA_sandbox) on the Primo sandbox.
- Wait until the indexing and hotswapping are complete.
- Test the data.