Cloud Integration

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
sammythesm
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Cloud Integration

Postby sammythesm » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:16 am

So this is the right forum for pie-in-the sky ideas and requests, right? Here goes:

I'll start with one practical/easy/short-term one:
1. Can't the church integrate an automated offsite/cloud backup of all MLS data?

When I was installed in my calling a year ago, the usb key we had been so thoughtfully provided with for MLS backups had not been updated in a year. Furthermore, the backup was not being held offsite, which really negates the benefit of having it. (a lot of church fires recently here in Texas)

Seems like it would be a really low-risk enhancement to MLS to just send up the MLS back up file with the send/recieve and just store the 10 latest in the church data center. That's less than 1mb of data storage per ward and a WHOLE lot of peace of mind and protection.

2. (more pie in the sky) Why can't MLS be a web application?

Every Sunday it's a race to the MLS computer. Secretaries want rolls, to input home and visiting teaching, to update membership records, and to handle donations and expenses, to update callings, and to print out that list or recommend the Bishop needed 10 minutes ago.

Members could do their callings much easier if they were able to manipulate MLS data from their home or work at their own convenience.

The church stands to gain much in terms of system security with a MLS web app as well. They can more closely monitor user activity, studying data for trends and more easily spotting and thwarting misuse of church data.

Think of it from a global adoption perspective as well. A MLS web app would be much more useful in the developing world where security and cost prevents local units from installing desktop computers and broadband connections into church buildings. Mobile, wireless, light-weight, inexpensive computers which can run the MLS over a cellular or wireless network would be much more practical in these situations. The church's work which is currently only beneficial to a fraction of the church population would quickly be able to be utilized by leaders outside of the US/Canada, without need a large capital investment in equipment.

Web apps also allow for much more rapid, iterative, and phased development. New languages and features could be more easily and quickly phased in.

I hope someone in the church tech dept is really studying cloud computing closely. The Family History department seems to be leading the way here with the indexing program and the new.familysearch.org. Hopefully we can develop a strategy that will someday catch the church up... we seem to be a decade behind in terms of the technology and strategy we're using.

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Postby eblood66 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:31 am

WhiteEyebrows wrote:2. (more pie in the sky) Why can't MLS be a web application?


This is a lot less pie in the sky than you might think. If you're a ward clerk you can go to the Beta LUWS right now and see the direction it's going. Already you can get a number of reports (like the Action and Interview List and attendance roles) from the web site. There are only placeholders for things like making record moves, editing membership records and recording ordinances but the site indicates that these should also come online in the next few months.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:51 am

WhiteEyebrows wrote:I'll start with one practical/easy/short-term one:
1. Can't the church integrate an automated offsite/cloud backup of all MLS data?


The church makes a off-site backup about once every 30 days. You may noticed it as a longer then normal send/receive if you are on dial-up.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby aebrown » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:52 am

WhiteEyebrows wrote:Seems like it would be a really low-risk enhancement to MLS to just send up the MLS back up file with the send/recieve and just store the 10 latest in the church data center. That's less than 1mb of data storage per ward and a WHOLE lot of peace of mind and protection.


The Church already does this once per month. An entire MLS backup is transmitted to CHQ, which is then available if for some reason (building is destroyed by fire or earthquake) to be restored. I don't know how many older versions of this monthly backup are retained, but there is certainly at least one. The system is in place, and so the only differences between what you suggest and what is already being done would be a question of frequency vs. bandwidth vs. storage space.

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Postby sammythesm » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:18 am

Awesome. I had no clue about the automatic monthly backup. I've never seen this 'advertised' anywhere. We use broadband, so all our send/receives happen pretty quickly. Just to confirm, though, it does a FULL backup, of financial data too, right? Would be nice if the church did this on a weekly basis and eliminated the user prompt to back up every time financial data changes.

Also, the BETA LUWS looks great. For some reason I wasn't able to get in a few months ago when I tried, but now it looks like I can. I love the new calendar, photos, etc. I'm not seeing links for moving records around, etc, but I'm assuming that's because I'm not a developer on the project.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:52 am

WhiteEyebrows wrote:Awesome. I had no clue about the automatic monthly backup. I've never seen this 'advertised' anywhere. We use broadband, so all our send/receives happen pretty quickly. Just to confirm, though, it does a FULL backup, of financial data too, right? Would be nice if the church did this on a weekly basis and eliminated the user prompt to back up every time financial data changes.


The automated monthly backup is really a last resort for disaster recovery. I believe policy still calls for the frequent local backups -- one on removable media onsite, another offsite. I suspect that many units are not in compliance with this policy, and just do the backups to the C: drive that MLS forces clerks to make when financial data changes.

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Postby eblood66 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:54 am

WhiteEyebrows wrote:Also, the BETA LUWS looks great. For some reason I wasn't able to get in a few months ago when I tried, but now it looks like I can. I love the new calendar, photos, etc. I'm not seeing links for moving records around, etc, but I'm assuming that's because I'm not a developer on the project.


You don't have to be a developer (I'm not) but you do have to have a ward-level clerk calling listed in MLS (using a standardized position). If you do have such a calling then you should be able to do the following:

  1. Go to https://beta.lds.org
  2. Click Sign In in the upper right corner.
  3. Sign in using your LDS account.
  4. You should then see a 'Member Experience' screen listing 4 sections: General Conference, Ward and Stake Directory, Ward and Stake Calendar and Leader and Clerk Resources.
  5. Click on the header for Leader and Clerk Resources and it will take you to the site that shows MLS-like functions.
Bishopric members should be able to see this section too but it's possible they see a different view of things that may or not include some of the records management stuff.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:06 am

eblood66 wrote:You don't have to be a developer (I'm not) but you do have to have a ward-level clerk calling listed in MLS (using a standardized position).



It appears that while ward clerks have this privilege, assistant ward clerks do not. In the long run, this may be a problem in units where the hands-on work is delegated.

Another difference between this authentication model and that in MLS is that it seems hard-wired to specific callings. In MLS, the local priesthood leaders have the discretion to assign application privileges for cross-training assistant clerks.

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Postby eblood66 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:46 am

boomerbubba wrote:It appears that while ward clerks have this privilege, assistant ward clerks do not. In the long run, this may be a problem in units where the hands-on work is delegated.


I expect that's a beta limitation. Assistant clerk for membership and assistant clerk for finance are standard positions used in most all wards of any size so I can't imagine they won't have access eventually. However, the screens would have to be reconfigured for each calling to remove the functionality they don't have rights to and that is probably a lower priority than getting the functionality working in the first place.

boomerbubba wrote:Another difference between this authentication model and that in MLS is that it seems hard-wired to specific callings. In MLS, the local priesthood leaders have the discretion to assign application privileges for cross-training assistant clerks.


That remains to be seen still. The beta calendar supports adding additional administrators. The beta directory does not (to my knowledge). There isn't any place holder in the Leader and Clerk Resources pages for managing rights but I don't know if the design is complete.

In my ward, as ward clerk I serve as backup to the assistant clerks and we don't really do any cross-training between the assistants. However, if it's important in your ward you might want to have your ward clerk submit feedback on that section.

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Postby lajackson » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:02 pm

WhiteEyebrows wrote:Awesome. I had no clue about the automatic monthly backup. . . . Just to confirm, though, it does a FULL backup, of financial data too, right?


Yes, it does a full backup, membership and financial. I have had occasion to use it in one of our branches where they did not have a good local backup. We were fortunate. The Hq backup had been taken just two weeks earlier. Worst case would be 4-5 weeks. It is a monthly backup.

Hq also will take a backup when there are database problems the developer needs to troubleshoot or fix.


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