Alteryx Server Knowledge Base

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Alteryx Server Sandbox Environment

DavidHa
Alteryx
Alteryx
Created

Introduction 

Alteryx Server is a cloud-hosted or self-hosted application for publishing, sharing, and executing Alteryx Workflows. In a Server deployment, users can publish Designer Workflows, Macros, and Analytic Apps to a private Server hosted on your company's server infrastructure, or in the cloud. Once published, these workflows can be scheduled or shared with other users to collaborate and view the results. 

Alteryx Server environments often support hundreds of users, involve data connections to multiple data sources such as Snowflake, Databricks, and Microsoft SQL Server, and are counted on to process business critical applications.  Therefore, the performance and efficiency of the Alteryx Server environment is critical.  In this article we will look at the importance of the Alteryx Server Sandbox environment to help ensure the smooth operation of the production Alteryx Server environment. 

 

Alteryx Server Sandbox Overview 

A sandbox is a development and testing environment isolated from a production environment or repository.  Sandboxing protects an organization’s production data, programs, and other content from changes that could be damaging to mission-critical systems.  The recommended best practice from Alteryx is to leverage a “Sandbox” environment for developing and testing Workflows, data connections, user configurations, and other settings before publishing to a production environment.  The Alteryx Server Sandbox is a special license that allows an organization to setup Alteryx Server in a manner matching their production Alteryx Server environment, but for the purposes of testing and/or development.  The Alteryx Server Sandbox environment may match the production Alteryx Server environment in terms of number of machines and CPU cores. The Sandbox environment may be used as a single testing environment, or even as a full pre-production environment.  Multiple Sandbox environments may be used in combination to provide a development, staging, and production deployment.  

image.pngimage.pngAn example 3-tier deployment where Sandbox License #1 is used as a development environment, and Sandbox License #2 is used as a pre-production environment, to support the Production Alteryx Server environment. 

 

 

Sandbox Use Cases 

 

Testing Workflows 

A Sandbox environment provides a safe development area for experimentation and testing without the risk of disrupting the production environment.  Whether you are publishing a new Workflow, or making changes to an existing Workflow, testing in a Sandbox environment first ensures the production environment is not impacted by any unforeseen problems.  Poor workflow design can cause performance issues across the Server environment, so it is best to identify this in a Sandbox environment rather than impacting the Production environment.  

 

Workflow Review / Approvals 

A follow on to the above testing workflows scenario, but with a focus on governance and control.  Many organizations have found success with an approach where Designer users build Workflows and publish them to a Sandbox environment for review, and then the Sandbox environment has approvers that review the Workflows, and if all standards are met, promote to the Production environment.  As organizations grow and add users to the Alteryx Server environment, this creates a standard publish process to ensure production can scale with the user base to ensure it operates efficiently. 

image.pngimage.pngAn example deployment, where workflows are first published to an Alteryx Server Sandbox environment, where IT can review, approve, and then promote to the production Alteryx Server environment.  

 

Data Connections 

A Sandbox environment allows Workflow publishers to build workflows leveraging data connections built on Aliases or DSNs, which are configured based on the environment.  The Alias or DSN is setup to translate to either a development database or production database depending on which environment the Alias or DSN is configured on.  This allows the Workflow to be built with an Alias or DSN name that is consistent across both the Sandbox and Production environments, yet the Workflow can be migrated from the Sandbox environment to the Production environment without requiring any configuration changes on the data connection. 

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An Alteryx Server deployment where an Alias or DSN in the Sandbox environment points to a Dev database, and the same Alias or DSN in the Production environment points to the production database. 

 

Testing Software Updates 

A sandbox environment provides a safe place to test software changes before rolling them into the production environment.  This can include both Alteryx Server version upgrades and patches, as well as Microsoft Windows Server updates.  Additionally, IT might need to reconfigure network or firewall rules to adhere to the latest security standards.  Validating these changes don’t impact the Alteryx workflows in a Sandbox environment will ensure that the same changes when applied to Production won’t impact those business-critical applications.  Finally, Alteryx Server allows connectivity to hundreds of data sources through connectivity leveraging ODBC, OleDB, APIs, etc…  If any data source driver versions or config changes need to be applied, testing these in a Sandbox environment will ensure those data connections are successful before applying to the production environment.  

 

Alteryx Server Config Changes 

An Alteryx Server environment allows for extensive customization through configuration settings at the Gallery, Worker, Controller, and Persistence layer.  From time to time, an organization may wish to modify these system settings to reconfigure components like MongoDB, authentication, or even logging.  It is recommended to make these changes in a Sandbox environment first to confirm the desired behavior, and ensure no unforeseen issues arise.  Then the settings can be promoted up to the Production environment.  

 

Conclusion 

The Alteryx Server Sandbox provides an organization the ability to separate business critical production job execution from developers who are building and testing new applications while also giving IT an environment for testing patches, upgrades, and configuration changes. If you have any questions about the Alteryx Server Sandbox, including how many licenses and seats are recommended for your goals, please reach out to your Alteryx representative. 




 




 

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