System requirements | Perception 5.4 | Questionmark

System requirements | Perception 5.4

Applies to the following products: 
Questionmark Perception
Applies to the following Perception versions: 
Perception 5.4

Before you install Perception, you should ensure that your system(s) meets the minimum requirements. These are listed in the following sections:

Note that you will need administrative permissions for the server on which you will be installing Perception.

The name(s) of the server that you install Perception on and your database servers must not contain any underscores, dashes, or other illegal characters, or the database links will not be created when it comes time to configure Perception. For more information on illegal characters and Questionmark, see A4. Illegal characters.

Recommended hardware

The recommended hardware for Perception 5.4 will depend on the environment you intend to install it in. For details about the recommended hardware requirements for Perception, see Question Perception Scalability Guide.

The recommended hardware specifications for your Perception server are:

  • An x86- or x64-compatible (not ia64) quad-core CPU, preferably of the i7 or Xeon (E3, E7, or Sequence) processor family
  • 8GB RAM (At least 4GB RAM at minimum)
  • SAS or SATA 7200RPM HDD or greater

The recommended hardware specifications for your ETL server are:

  • An x86- or x64-compatible (not ia64) quad-core CPU, preferably of the i7 or Xeon (E3, E7, or Sequence) processor family
  • At least 4GB RAM (8GB RAM recommended)
  • SAS or SATA 7200RPM HDD or greater

The recommended hardware specifications for your database server(s) depends on the load that your database server(s) will need to accommodate; a higher volume of assessments being delivered will require more computing power or you will see degraded performance. As with the recommendations for the Perception and ETL servers, for more details about scalability and recommended hardware requirements, you can refer to the Scalability Guide linked to above, but it is recommended that the hardware of your database server(s) is at least as powerful as what is recommended for the Perception and ETL servers.

As Perception can be hardware-intensive at times (especially when delivering a large number of assessments at once), it is recommended that the server you install Perception on is dedicated solely to running Perception. Try to keep your Perception server as free of other programs as possible for maximum performance. If you have other applications or web services, install them on different servers.

Disk space required

Depending on the type of installation you intend to set up, the server on which you want to install Perception must have the required free disk space as highlighted in the following table:

Install type

Free disk space required

Perception software prerequisites/PHP


Single-server install

Approximately 2GB

Multi-tiered install

...on server hosting QPLA: 200MB

...on server hosting Enterprise Manager: Less than 1GB

...on server hosting Analytics: Less than 1GB

Additional space will be required to store logs, resources, and database files that are created or required by Perception.

Supported operating systems

Perception is compatible with the following English-language operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (x86 and x64)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)

Non-English versions of Windows Server 2008 are not supported. While they might work with Perception after some modifications, please be aware that doing so is at your own risk.

Although unsupported by Questionmark, if you are using a non-English version of Windows Server 2008 (or R2), see ADV10. Using a non-English version of Windows Server 2008 for information on some settings that must be edited for the ETL service to function correctly.

If you want to create assessments that use non-English characters, you will need to install the correct language pack(s). This is to ensure that non-English characters can be displayed by Perception and the database server(s) used. For further information about installing language packs, see ADV2. Language packs.

Supported database systems

The following database systems and versions can be used with Perception.

If you will be using Perception for production use, Perception should be installed on an application server (or multiple servers) and the Perception databases should be installed on a separate database server.

SQL Server

For the shared repository (Perception_REPO), Main (Perception_MAIN), Results Warehouse (Perception_RW), and temporary ETL (ETL_Temp) databases, you can use:

  • SQL Server 2008
  • SQL Server 2008 R2

You can use either the 32- or 64-bit version of SQL Server 2008.

Please note that the database servers should have a minimum of 4GB RAM.

Installation notes

In SQL Server, there are two database collations to set, the SQL Server collation and the Database collation.

For English and non-English characters to appear correctly when using SQL Server, your collations should be set as:

  • SQL Server collation must be configured to use the SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation. This collation utilizes the 1252 (ANSI - Latin 1)codepage. The SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation is the case-insensitive version. You should take care not to use the case-sensitive version of the collation. The case-sensitive version can be identified with the initials CS appearing in the collation title while the case insensitive version can be identified by the initials CI. This collation must be set when installing SQL Server. Please be aware that when installing SQL Server 2008, it will automatically attempt to get the most-appropriate collation depending on what the server locale has been set as. In most cases, this will need to be manually changed to use the SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation.
  • Database collation must be set to SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS to ensure that all data written in Perception is stored and displayed correctly. It will be set to this collation by Perception when it is installed.

Please note that the collation used should be SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS, not Latin1_General_CI_AS.

Users wishing to set up the English version of Perception on a non-English operating system should ensure that the correct language packs are installed for both the database and the operating system. Additionally, the language pack 1252 (ANSI - Latin 1) must be installed for both servers and the SQL Server collation and database collation set to SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS.

The question searching facility in Authoring Manager requires the full-text indexing component of SQL Server to be installed and configured and will not work without it. Once full-text indexing is installed, it will need to be enabled for the database before the repository is created.


For the shared repository (Perception_REPO), Main (Perception_MAIN), Results Warehouse (Perception_RW), and the temporary ETL (ETL_Temp) database, you can use:

  • Oracle 11g R1
  • Oracle 11g R2

You can use either the 32- or 64-bit version of Oracle 11g for the shared repository, Main, and Results Warehouse databases.

However, you must use a 32-bit version of the Oracle client on your ETL server for the temporary ETL database.

While you can use either 32- or 64-bit versions of Oracle 11g for the Perception databases on your database server, the ETL service onlyworks with 32-bit Oracle client drivers. Even if you are running Windows Server 2008 64-bit or Windows Server 2008 R2 (which is a 64-bit operating system) on your ETL server, you will still need to install and use a 32-bit Oracle client on your ETL server (or whatever server you install the ETL service on) that is compatible with your Oracle database.

Installation notes

There are a number of factors that need to be taken in to account if using Oracle as your database system for Perception. These include:

  • For non-English characters (Latin characters and other Western European characters) to appear properly when using Oracle, your Oracle installation must be configured to utilize the AL32UTF8 character set
  • For 2-bit characters (such as Japanese or Chinese), you must utilize the WE8MSWIN125 database character set
  • If using the WE8MSWIN1252 database character set on a non-English operating system, the National Character Set (NLS) must be set to English(either US or UK)

No other character sets can be reliably supported at this time. You can either change your database to use the appropriate character set (providing that other applications using Oracle can work with this), or else set up a separate Oracle installation with the appropriate character set for Perception to use.

To use the Scoring Tool component of Perception Server with Oracle, ODP.NET (Oracle Data Provider) version 9.2 or higher must be installed on each application server you will be running Perception on. ODP.NET can be obtained from

The question-searching facility in Authoring Manager requires Oracle Text to be installed and configured and will not work without it. Oracle Text is not installed by default in some versions and may need to be installed.

Other things to keep in mind when installing and configuring Oracle

Please note you will need to install at least 2 database instances. One will be on the database server containing the shared repository, Perception_MAIN, and Perception_RW databases, and the other (for the ETL_Temp database) will need to be on the server running the Extract, Transform, and Load service.

Supported browsers

For information about the supported web browsers for Enterprise Manager and the Questionmark portal, see Which browsers are supported for Perception 5?

Software prerequisites

The applications required by Perception are listed below:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 7 or 7.5
  • .NET 2.0
  • .NET 3.5
  • .NET 4.0
  • Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
  • PHP 5.3
  • Windows Server AppFabric
  • SQL Server 2008 or Oracle 11g (for the ETL service)


  • SMTP

For more information on each of the programs, as well as installation instructions, see:

2. Install and configure the prerequisites (for a single-server install)

2b. Install and configure the prerequisites (for a load-balanced install)

For a multi-tiered install, refer to steps 37, and 11.

License files

When you install Perception, a license is included that allows you to use the product for 30 days. After this evaluation period expires, you will need to obtain a valid license. See ADV1. Licensing Perception for more information after you have installed Perception.

Virtual environments

Perception can be installed and run in virtual environments. Questionmark supports installations of Perception in the following virtual environment platforms:


VMWare is a virtualization solution produced by VMWare Inc. and is the market leader in virtualization. VMware software provides a completely virtualized set of hardware to the guest operating system.


Hyper-V is a hypervisor-based virtualization system for 64-bit systems. It is a new virtualization technology that Microsoft implemented in Windows Server 2008 and directly replaces Microsoft Virtual Server. Hyper-V is built in to the host and guest operating systems and allows for improved performance over Microsoft's traditional virtualization methods.

If using virtual environments care should be taken to ensure that the host computer running the virtualization software is robust and powerful to ensure that Perception is not left without the ability to create and store data or process actions. The virtual environments need to be setup to work as hardware based machines and should be setup with adequate amounts of memory, hard drive space and processor speed. The network configuration for the virtual environment will depend on your organization network setup, but Perception has been tested extensively using a bridged network connection from the virtual environment to the physical network.

Questionmark Perception is multi-threaded, but it is not specifically vSMP aware. It will use whatever resources the guest operating system makes available to it. While it can be run on guest operating systems that utilize a single vCPU or multiple vCPUs, it is unable to communicate directly with the host operating system in a virtualized environment to optimize resources via vSMP.

The workload of delivering assessments from Perception is handled by IIS. IIS assigns a response to a thread and thus the processor use is determined by IIS and not by Perception.

General virtualization tips include:

  • Don't mix single vCPU and multiple vCPU guests on a single host
  • Prevent the straddling of CPUs (For example, a server with 2x 6-core CPUs cannot run 3x 4-vCPU guests efficiently, as one would straddle two CPUs.)
  • Ensure host capacity is capable of supporting all guest operating systems under load. If the host constantly runs at close to 100%, consider separating some of the guest systems to other hosts.