The Blackbaud Management Console: Part I – What Exactly is the Blackbaud Management Console, Anyway?
A very long time ago, in a shaded and dusty corner of a lonely cubicle haphazardly scattered with post it notes, partially used pens, assorted Star Wars memorabilia, and a coffee stained mug, the Blackbaud Management Console (BMC) was born. Quickly rising to fulfill its destiny, it became the one utility that is included with each of the core Blackbaud products at installation and is used extensively to this day.
Being that it is installed as a part of The Raiser’s Edge, The Financial Edge, The Education Edge, The Patron Edge, and The Researcher’s Edge; the chances are pretty good that you’ve seen it before. You may have even used it, clicking on its many various options and interacting with its helpful Wizards, but did you really know what it was and what it was doing? Officially dubbed the Blackbaud Management Console or BMC for short, there is much under the surface of the utility that warrants a closer look.
At first glance, it may appear that the BMC is simply a database management tool. It is the BMC, after all, where one would go to create, attach, or detach a database. It is the BMC where database backups can be created and restored and where maintenance tasks, like check integrity and rebuild indexes, are run. Pretty much, for the purposes of basic database management, the BMC has everything you need.
At its heart, the BMC is a GUI (graphical user interface) front-end that plugs in, behind the scenes, to Microsoft’s already existing SQL Server management tools. For example, when you instruct the BMC to create a database backup, it simply crafts a SQL command with argument list and passes it to SQL. The same is done for database management tasks, like a Check Integrity.
What makes the BMC special, though, is that it does much more than to simply manage a database. When you initially attach a database to a SQL instance, it is the BMC that creates the corresponding SQL user accounts which are used by Blackbaud applications. If you were to attach the database directly to SQL, for example, those accounts would not be created and chances are you would encounter issues when attempting to access the database.
In addition, it is the BMC that manages the deploy folder, which is shared on the server and referenced by each and every workstation in an organization and is where those workstations receive instructions about which databases are attached and how to connect to them. Using the BMC, attaching a database not only causes it to be attached to the SQL instance you specify, but also results in the deploy folder being updated. This, in turn, sparks a small update on workstations the next time they log in. The workstations notice that things have changed on the server (you attached a new database), so they update themselves accordingly (using the information that the BMC previously wrote to the deploy folder to determine the new database added and the connectivity settings required to make a connection to it). Going back to our example above, if you were to attach a database directly to SQL (not using the BMC), then workstations would have no idea it existed. If you wanted them to see and use it, you would have to manually edit ODBC and registry entries – a task that we would be remiss to ask anyone to do on their own, experienced user or not.
Thus, though of humble origin, the BMC itself is a highly useful tool – one which was crafted for the express purpose of lightening the load placed upon the users of all organizations. One which was designed with the intention of making it possible for anyone, regardless of Technical ability, to be able to successfully manage their organization’s database(s).