OracleAppsBlog
A day in the life of an Oracle Applications Consultant

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oracle e-Business Suite Release 12: New Features for Sys Admins

Fear not System Administrators: There are exciting new system administration features in the pipeline for managing e-Business Suite environments.

Well, I’ve made it back home to Charlotte and I’m getting caught up with my notes from Open World.  One of the sessions I attended last week was by Oracle Senior Project Manager Biju Mohan.  His session covered some of the improvements and new features system administrators can look forward to in the upcoming release of the e-Business Suite plug in for Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM).

One seemingly never ending task that takes up a considerable amount of time for System Administrators is cloning.  It wasn’t long ago that cloning was done manually (maybe I’m dating myself), using home grown scripts and following documented (or not so documented) procedures.  I’m sure there are still a few of us out there who still follow manual processes, and although Oracle Applications Manager and the adclone utilities and scripts have helped sysadmins reduce the time and effort for cloning, there are still a few areas where things we being done manually behind the scenes.  I’m happy to report the product teams at Oracle have been hard at work, and will be releasing a number of new or improved features for e-Business Suite management in the future.  Here are a few of the improvements I learned about regarding cloning.

Cloning support through OAM will be decommissioned, and in the future cloning will be accomplished through the cloning dashboard in OEM - with the e-Business Suite add on (the “apps pack”) installed.  The process will be automated through a provisioning framework, where OEM will walk an administrator through an interview process to determine cloning parameters.  Sys admins will be able to create images, so the possible cloning combinations will be:

  • Source to Target (e.g. PROD to DEV);
  • Source to Image (e.g. PROD to an image to put on the shelf and use for future clones to DEV, UAT, etc.); and
  • Image to Target (e.g. refresh DEV from an earlier image of PROD or another imaged environment).

One feature I’m sure many have been waiting for is the ability to scramble or purge sensitive data.  I’ve been told this feature will work with 11i10 and Release 12.  This is great news for cloning production environments down to development and test instances where the apps password isn’t always policed as it is in production.  Although the instance might not be production, the data still originated in a production environment, and the ability to scramble or purge sensitive HR, payroll or other personal data (e.g. to meet HIPAA requirements) has been needed for a long time.  It was not made clear as to how extensive the process was, or what data elements for each of the modules would be covered, but it was my understanding that the scrambling will be implemented as an engine where additional input parameters can be input to the process.  Data obfuscation will occur during the cloning of either a Source -> Target or Source -> Image clone, and will not be reversible.

I’ll keep my ears posted on when we can expect the release of the apps pack for OEM.  Post a comment if you hear any news on the next release.  More details on additional Release 12 system management features to come in a future post.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

OOW06 Ten Things You Can Do To Prepare for Fusion Applications

Confused about Fusion?  You shouldn’t be.  Although Fusion Applications are years away, there are many components of Fusion Middleware that are available today to help get you one step closer to Fusion Applications.

I’ve sat through several sessions and keynotes regarding Release 12, Fusion Middleware, and Fusion Applications.  The message from John Wookey, Cliff Godwin, Nadia Bendjedou, and others has been consistent - You don’t need to wait for the release of Fusion Applications to start preparing for Fusion.  Moving to Fusion Applications will require new skills and experience to install, configure and support the new Applications Suite.  However, many of the tools and technologies for Fusion Applications are available today and can be leveraged with 11i10 and/or Release 12, allowing you to get a head start on preparing your environment and staff for Fusion Apps.

I must not have been the only one to complain, as they moved Dr. Nadia Bendjedou’s session “Oracle E-Business Suite Customers: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Oracle Fusion Applications” to a larger room.  Despite the fact the room held almost 500 people, it was still standing room only for some.  There is obviously a lot of interest in Fusion, and the good news is you don’t have to wait years to start preparing today.  Nadia’s presentation focused on both best practices as well as product components, and listed 10 items e-Business Suite customers should start focusing on now:

Top 10 List

  1. Rethink your customization strategy
  2. Consider Master Data Management (MDM)
  3. Move to SOA-based integration
  4. Extend your business intelligence portfolio
  5. Adopt enterprise reporting and publishing
  6. Secure your global enterprise
  7. Consider grid computing
  8. Centralize your lifecycle management
  9. Upgrade to the e-Business Suite R12
  10. Prepare a Fusion project plan

Each of these items is a topic in and of itself.  My plan is to go into more detail on each one in future posts.  Items 1, 9 and 10 focus more on best practices, where the remaining items focus on the product technologies behind the EBS.  There have been numerous sessions on Release 12 and Fusion Applications, and the good news is I’ve been able to take some good notes in many of them.  Post a comment or start a thread in the forum to let me know which topics interest you most.

For those who have been following along, today is the last day of the conference.  Several good sessions remain, and then it’s off to the airport to catch an overnight flight back home to Charlotte.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oracle Open World: Day One Summary

I’ve made it to San Francisco, and can report the conference is in full swing.

First Impressions

The attendance this year is significantly higher than it was when I last attended in 2004.  This is not new news to anyone following the conference, but I’ve noted the impact in a few areas:

  1. We’re now eating lunch outside (well, sort of).  Granted, serving lunch for 40,000 plus people is an accomplishment in and of itself, where to seat them all during the lunch hours can also prove to be a logistical nightmare.  Fortunately, Oracle has some obvious influence with the city of San Francisco as the solution was to block off an entire street in between Moscone North and South and construct a giant lunch tent, complete with stage for live lunch entertainment.
  2. The free wireless access works some of the time.  There are numerous hot spots in the convention halls, but at times they were luke warm at best.  It was difficult or impossible to authenticate during peak break times.
  3. The weather in San Francisco on Monday was fantastic!  Although I needed a coat in the morning, I was sweating in it by the afternoon.
  4. Congestion around some of the lecture halls was so severe, they stopped scanning badges for entry as it was delaying the start of the presentation.  This didn’t happen everywhere.  Mostly it occurred in areas where they had messaging centers and other kiosks (coffee, snacks, etc.) set up.  Queues of session “hopefulls” who couldn’t register for a session form outside the door while those who are registered try to get in.  I’ll be one of these people myself as I’m still trying to get into Nadia’s session on preparing for Fusion Applications.

The Road to Release 12

Speaking of new releases of the e-Business Suite, I sat in on Cliff Godwin’s presentation regarding technology directions for the EBS on Monday.  His presentation centered around both R12 and the future Fusion Applications.  In hopes of gaining more information regarding Fusion later today, I’ll comment on a few key takeaways regarding release 12:

R12 will focus on providing a superior ownership experience, additional Business Intelligence capabilities, and service enablement.  The user interface will get an overhaul under the current “SWAN” initiative, and will use the native sun client doing away with JInitiator.  Changes in the technology stack include using 10g R3 with OC4J at the application server tier, and 10gR2 for the database.

XML Publisher will be further integrated into the EBS and will include over 800 templates, many of which will also be translated into over 30 languages.  Additional improvements include a bursting engine, and the ability to consolidate XML reports from multiple sources into a single publishable document.

From a system management perspective, additional packs will become available for Oracle Enterprise Manager, replacing the older grid control for 11i.  Management packs will also be available for PeopleSoft and Siebel, as well as the EBS.

All things considered, Monday was a long but productive day.  I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s sessions, and meeting up with other Oracle Bloggers tonight at the Annual Blogger’s Meetup, organized by Mark Rittman.  Stay tuned - more Oracle Open World 2006 news to follow.

 

Friday, October 20, 2006

Countdown to Oracle Open World: Schedules and Blog Cards

I’ve finalized my Oracle Open World schedule for next week, and have a good mix of e-Business Suite technology, Release 12, Fusion Middleware, and Business Intelligence sessions lined up.

For the most part, I was able to get into the sessions I wanted with one exception.  I’d really like to attend Nadia Bendjedou’s session entitled Oracle E-Business Suite Customers: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Oracle Fusion Applications, and apparently so would quite a few others as the session has been booked to capacity for several weeks now.  I’ve seen her present before, and always walked away with a much better understanding behind e-Business Suite technology.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, or maybe I’ll just linger outside the room and hope to sneak in.

Richard came up with a great idea - the creation of OracleAppsBlog business cards.  I’ve created some of my own cards via Overnight Prints to distribute at the conference.  Here’s a preview of what the cards look like:

Front of OracleAppsBlog.com Card

Front of OracleAppsBlog.com card

Back of OracleAppsBlog.com Card

Back of OracleAppsBlog.com card

Post a comment if you plan on attending any of the sessions below, or if you plan on attending Oracle Open World.  It would be great to meet some of the other members of the blog in person.

Monday

The Next Application Platform
Technology Directions for Oracle Applications
Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing in the Next Major Release of Oracle Database
Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Tips and Tricks
Oracle’s Business Intelligence Road Map

Tuesday

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Architectural Overview
Oracle E-Business Suite Technology Updates
Deep Dive: Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 New Technology Stack
Oracle Analytic Applications Road Map
What’s New in Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition 10.1.3.2?

Wednesday

Oracle E-Business Suite System Management: Release 12 New Features
Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12: Installation and Cloning Enhancements
Analytic Applications Q&A with Development and Strategy Executives
Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Standard Edition Discoverer 10g Best Practices

Thursday

The Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12: Process, Integration, and Eventing
Best Practices for Implementing Siebel Business Analytics
Using Analytics to Compete More Effectively, Improve Sales Execution, and Maximize Revenue
Oracle Discoverer Future: Protect, Extend, Integrate
Oracle Daily Business Intelligence: A Business Intelligence Solution for Oracle E-Business Suite, Providing Relevant, Timely Information to End Users

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oracle Releases Eighth Critical Patch Update

Oracle DBA’s and Sysadmin’s: You’ve got a “friend” in Oracle’s October 2006 Critical Patch Update (CPUOct2006).

Winter Spring Summer or Fall,
All you have to do is call,
And I’ll be there yeah yeah yeah.
You’ve got a friend.
- James Taylor

Just like the lyrics in the famous James Taylor song, Oracle came calling again (yeah, Yeah, YEAH!) with its Fall Quarterly Update.  If, by chance, you don’t have any friends, at least you’ll have job security.  And if you’re an Oracle DBA or system administrator you probably don’t have time for socializing anyway, especially if you’re responsible for identifying, testing, and implementing the 101 patches identified in CPU #8.

But this time our jobs should be a little easier, as Oracle has included additional notes which include an executive summary that provides a summary of the vulnerabilities addressed with the latest patches. A rating system based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) has also been incorporated into the risk matrix.  Although the risk matrix is nothing new to the CPU’s, MetaLink Note 394486.1 will help you understand the new format of the matrix.  I believe the new format will help facilitate an easier “yes/no” identification approach, and also help identify the resources and effort required to implement each of the patches.

For e-Business customers, there are 13 vulnerabilities identified in Appendix D.  According to the Oracle Global Product Security Blog, the patches are cumulative for all products except for the e-Business Suite.  If you’ve lagged behind in applying all the quarterly updates, you will need to do a gap analysis on previous CPU’s issued for the e-Business Suite to ensure you are compliant.  CPU’s for the technology stack components, however, should be cumulative, which means you can simply apply the latest CPU patches specified to ensure you are compliant.

I’ve got an out of the box 11.5.10CU2 environment I’ll be installing soon, so to identify all the patches required to ensure compliance, I’ll start by reviewing MetaLink Note 391564.1.  I’ll post my gap analysis in a future post.

I’d be interested in hearing how well others have been keeping up with the quarterly updates, and strategies for identifying patches to apply.  Do you apply all patches applicable to your environment?  Is there a change management process you follow?  What is your strategy for regression testing and production migration?  Post a comment to let us know your thoughts on dealing with these quarterly updates.

 

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