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You can use the BMC Middleware Automation product to solve many different kinds of problems, from troubleshooting web application servers to deploying applications on many servers quickly. The following fundamental activities that you perform in BMC Middleware Automation enable you to perform many different kinds of configuration and deployment tasks:

Create Server Profiles

A Server Profile contains the information that BMC Middleware Automation needs to connect to an application server to create Snapshots and install Configurations. It includes information that describes the server, such as vendor and version, network addresses, and the security credentials required to establish a connection. The Server Profile is also where you save environment-specific token values that are substituted into a Configuration before it is installed on the server.

For more information, see Creating Server Profiles.

Create Snapshots

A Snapshot is a BMC Middleware Automation Configuration that is created by retrieving configuration data from a server. After you create a Server Profile, the product can create a Snapshot. It connects to the server, retrieves the configuration data, and saves a Configuration document in your project's Configurations folder. The Configuration is an XML document based on a schema developed by BMC. A schema exists for each application server that BMC Middleware Automation supports.

If you periodically save Snapshots of server configurations, you can compare them to each other to see what has changed. This capability makes Snapshots useful for troubleshooting server problems.

When you edit a Snapshot, you create a Configuration that you can reinstall on the server or install on other servers. During an installation, BMC Middleware Automation uses the application server's administration API to compare all the information in the Configuration with the server's current environment. It makes only the required changes and saves a report showing the changes that it made.

For more information, see Creating a Snapshot.

Create a restricted Configuration

A Snapshot contains all of an application server's configuration data. When you are deploying applications, you need to modify only a small portion of that data. You can use the Configuration Packager tool to select just the objects that you need to install. Smaller Configurations install more efficiently and eliminate the possibility of introducing errors by changing objects unrelated to the current task.

If files, such as .ear, .war, and .jar files, are associated with the Configuration, you can add them to the Configuration so that they are uploaded when you install the Configuration. For IBM WebSphere, you can further minimize deployment times by associating a partial application with the Configuration; only specific files within the archive file are uploaded during the installation of the Configuration. You can also specify commands to execute on the server before or after the Configuration is installed.

BMC Middleware Automation provides templates that you can use to create Configurations for common tasks, such as configuring server ports, virtual hosts, or JMS queues and topics.

For more information, see Preparing Configurations for installation operations.

Tokenize the Configuration

Configurations contain hard-coded, environment-specific attribute values. For example, Configurations typically contain server host names and port numbers. When you create a Configuration to deploy on multiple servers, you do not want to edit the host name and port number, and all the other server-specific data, each time you install the Configuration on another server.

With BMC Middleware Automation, you can replace hard-coded values with tokens that are substituted with values just before the Configuration is installed. The values are stored in the Server Profile for each target application server. You can have multiple token sets in the Server Profile, with different replacement values for the same set of tokens. For example, you could have a token set for the development environment and another for the production environment. BMC Middleware Automation verifies that you have provided values for all of the tokens before it proceeds with the installation.

The Tokenization Wizard helps you locate server-specific values in Configurations and replace them with tokens. You search for a value — such as a port number, installation path, or host name — and the wizard finds every occurrence of the value in the Configuration. Then you can specify the token to replace the hard-coded values.

If your Configuration specifies application archives to deploy (.ear or .war files), you can tokenize any text files inside the archives so that variable values can be set when the application is deployed. This is useful for applications that are configured using Java properties files.

A benefit of tokenization is that after you have created and tested a Configuration, you can reuse it without having to alter it. You can just set token values in the Server Profile and install the Configuration on the server.

For more information, see Tokenizing Configurations.