This is the first in a series of articles on implementation advice to optimize the designs and configuration of Oracle Utilities products.
Early in my career my mentor at the time suggested that I expand my knowledge outside the technical area. The idea is that non-technical techniques would augment my technical knowledge. He suggested a series of books and articles that would expand my thinking. Today I treasure those books and articles and regularly reread them to reinforce my skills.
Recently I was chatting to customers about optimizing their interface designs using a techniques typically called "Responsibility Led Design". The principle is basically that each participant in an interface has distinct responsibilities for the data interchanged and it was important to make sure designs took this into account. This reminded me of one of favorite books titled "The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey" by Ken Blanchard, William Oncken Jr. and Hal Burrows. I even have a copy of the audio version which is both informative and very entertaining. The book was based on a very popular Harvard Review article entitled "Management Time: Who's Got The Monkey" and expands on that original idea.
To paraphrase the article, a monkey is a task that is not your responsibility that is somehow assigned to you. The terms for this is the "monkey jumping on your back" or simply "Monkey on your back". This epitomizes the concepts of responsibility.
So what has this got to with design or even Oracle Utilities products, you might ask?
One of the key designs for all implementation is sending data INTO the Oracle Utilities products. These are inbound interfaces, for obvious reasons. In every interface there is a source application and a target application. The responsibility of the source application is to send valid data to the target application for processing. Now, one of the problems I see with implementations is when the source application sends invalid data to the target. There are two choices in this case:
- Send back the invalid request - This means that if the data transferred from the source in invalid for the target then the target should reject the data and ask the source to resend. Most implementations use various techniques for achieve this. This keeps the target clean of invalid data and ensures the source corrects their data before sending it off again. This is what I call correct behavior.
- Accept the invalid request (usually in a staging area) and correct it within the target for reprocessing - This means the data is accepted by the target. regardless of the error and corrected within the target application to complete the processing.
More and more I am seeing implementations taking the latter design philosophy. This is not efficient as the responsibility for data clensing (the monkey in this context) has jumped on the back of the target application. At this point, the source application has no responsibility for cleaning their own data and has no real incentive to ever send clean data to the target as the target is now has the monkey firmly on their back. This has consequences for the target application as it can increase resource usage (human and non-human) to now correct data errors from the source application. Some of the customers I chatted to found that while initially they found the volume of these types of transactions were low that over time the same errors kept being sent, and over time the cumulative effect of the data clensing on the target started to get out of control. Typically, at this point, customers ask for advice to try and reduce the impact.
In an Oracle Utilities product world, this exhibits itself as a large number of interface To Do's to manage as well as staging records to manage and additional storage to manage. The latter is quite important as typically implementations keep forgetting to remove completed transactions that have been corrected once they have been applied from the staging area. The product ship special purge jobs to remove complete staged transactions and we recently added support for ILM to staging records.
My advice to these customers are:
- Make sure that you assign invalid transactions back to the source application. This will ensure the source application maximizes the quality of their data and also hopefully prevents common transaction errors to reoccur. In other words, the monkey does not jump from the source to the target.
- If you choose to let the monkey jump on the target's back, for any reason, then use staging tables and make sure they are cleaned up to minimize the impact. Monitor the error rates and number of errors and ensure the source application is informed to correct the error trends.
In short, avoid the monkey in your inbound transactions. This will make sure the resources you allocate to both your source and target are responsible and are allocated in an efficient manner.
One of the major activities in any implementation of an Oracle Utilities Application Framework based product is to manage extensions to the product. These are customizations that partners, customers or consultants have built to extend or alter the product to suit the needs of an individual site.
There are typically a number of components that constitute extensions:
- ConfigTools objects - In newer versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework special configuration based objects were introduced to allow implementers to build configuration based objects such as Business Objects, Business Services, Service Scripts, Data Areas and UI Maps. These are typically managed using Bundling, Configuration Migration Assistant or ConfigLab. The latter is available for older versions of Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing as Configuration Migration Assistant was introduced in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2 and above.
- Administration Data - One of the major features of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework is the ability to define business values, business rules and business logic in administration data. This data is typically available from the Administration menu of the product and is managed using Configuration Migration Assistant or ConfigLab. The latter is available for older versions of Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing as Configuration Migration Assistant was introduced in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2 and above
- Database Scripts - Database changes are new database objects delivered with the extensions that conform to the guidelines in the Oracle Utilities SDK and DBA Guides shipped with the products. They are typically managed by the database tools of choice at a site.
- Miscellaneous Files - One of the facilities in the Oracle Utilities Application Framework is the ability to extend the technical configuration with a set of custom templates and custom user-exits which include any extensions related to the technical configuration of the product. These are typically managed manually.
Now to minimize the impact of all these changes the following guidelines are recommended:
- For SDK based files use the Oracle Utilities SDK tools to deploy your customizations. Avoid directly undeploying and manually building WAR/EAR files. This will avoid manual effort and also reduce manual errors. Do not manually splice and dice your code into the product files. Whilst it is technically possible to manually use jar and ant to build files, using the SDK utilities are lower risk and ensure the customizations, regardless of complexity, are placed in the right locations.
- When using the SDK utilities, always build full releases but use the patch build facility to build smaller deployment files. Using these patches will greatly minimize the build times and subsequent deployment times.
- Avoid deploying the appViewer, unless necessary. The appViewer is only a tool helpful for developers and administrators, it is not recommended for production use or even for environments where developers are not working regularly. Administrators and other people can use the appViewer deployed on a local server, in offline mode, rather than included in your implementation. The main reason is that the appViewer is a large set of documentation and takes time to rebuild. This will greatly reduce outages in patch installation as well as deployment. In newer versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework, appViewer is now a completely optional installation.
- If using ConfigLab or Configuration Migration Assistant, run the comparison ahead of time. This will mean that the application of the changes will be the only thing that needs to be applied. Ensure all changes have been preapproved or at least approved by the business prior to the application. If you are a customer that has access to both ConfigLab and Configuration Migration Assistant then use the latter as it is more logical and quicker for application of changes. Note: ConfigLab has been removed from Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing V2.5 and above.
- Use the Database Lifecycle Management Pack to manage database changes. Oracle ships an extension pack to track and manage database changes across your enterprise. Additionally third party solutions are also available to manage database change history.
- Centralize your templates and user exits for deployment. Custom Templates and Custom user exits can be environment specific or global depending on individual needs. If they are global, using commonly used configuration management practices can be used to copy them. It is recommended that copying of these files be done in the initial phases of the migration to take advantage of any rebuilds.
- Avoid multiple rebuilds. The application of changes in EAR/WAR files requires a rebuild of the files and so do other activities such as patching. By using the options on the initialSetup utility you can minimize the build and deployment process. This is documented in the Server Administration Guides (or Operations and Configuration Guides) shipped with your product.
- Consider using native installations rather than embedded installations. This is quite a saving. In the embedded installation the product must be down to build the EAR/WAR files as they need to be updated and are actively being used by the Oracle WebLogic server. You cannot update open files. In the native installation, the files are deployed in the Oracle WebLogic domain through the deployment (or update deployment process). This means you can build the EAR/WAR files when they are being used as they are copied during the deployment or update deployment process. The update deployment process can be executed from the WLST command line, Oracle WebLogic console or Oracle Enterprise Manager (on the Oracle WebLogic targets). This update process will take a far shorter time than a full load and deployment. In some cases this can be done live. Customers using Inbound Web Services already use this technique as it updates the deployment (effectively it is being copied to Oracle WebLogic's staging area to be used). For example, on test systems we notice that update deployment takes less than a minute (depending on the hardware of course).
- Concepts - General Concepts and Introduction.
- Environment Management - Principles and techniques for creating and managing environments.
- Version Management - Integration of Version control and version management of configuration items.
- Release Management - Packaging configuration items into a release.
- Distribution - Distribution and installation of releases across environments.
- Change Management - Generic change management processes for product implementations.
- Status Accounting - Status reporting techniques using product facilities.
- Defect Management - Generic defect management processes for product implementations.
- Implementing Single Fixes - Discussion on the single fix architecture and how to use it in an implementation.
- Implementing Service Packs - Discussion on the service packs and how to use them in an implementation.
- Implementing Upgrades - Discussion on the the upgrade process and common techniques for minimizing the impact of upgrades.
Two new whitepapers are available for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products from My Oracle Support.
The new whitepapers are:
- Oracle Application Testing Suite for Oracle Utilities - Overview (Doc Id: 2014163.1) - This is an overview of the Functional and Load Testing accelerator released for Oracle Utilities applications that uses Oracle Application Testing Suite to accelerate functional, regression, load and performance testing. This whitepaper outlines the features of the accelerator, the role Oracle Application Testing Suite pays in the testing process and a frequently asked questions section to clarify the accelerator.
- Oracle Utilities Application Framework - Keystore Configuration (Doc Id: 2014161.1) - This is an overview of keystore management for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. The keystore is used for advanced security of transport and for inbuilt application encryption.
One of the major advantages of the Oracle WebLogic Server Management Pack Enterprise Edition is the JVM Diagnostics (JVMD) engine. This tool allows java internals from JVM's to be sent to Oracle Enterprise Manager for analysis. It has a lot of advantages:
- It provides class level diagnostics for all classes in executed including base and custom classes.
- It provided end to end diagnostics when the engine is deployed with the application and the database.
- It has minimal impact on performance as the engine uses the JVM monitoring API's in memory.
It is possible to use JVMD with Oracle Utilities Application Framework in a number of ways:
- It is possible to deploy JVMD agent to the WebLogic servers used for the Online and Web Services tiers.
- It is possible to deploy the JVMD database agent to the database to capture the code execution against the database.
- It is possible to use standalone JVMD agent within threadpoolworkers to gather diagnostics for batch.
This article will outline the general process for deploying JVMD on the online servers. The other techniques will be discussed in future articles.
The architecture of JVMD can be summarized as follows:
- JVMD Manager - A co-ordination and collection node that collates JVM diagnostic information sent by JVM Agents attached to JVM's. This manager exposes the information to Oracle Enterprise Manager. The Manager can be installed within an OMS, standalone and multiple JVM Managers are supported to support large networks of agents.
- JVMD Agents - A small java based agent that is deployed within a JVM it is monitoring that collects Java diagnostics (primarily from memory, to minimize performance impact of collection) and sends them to a JVMD Manager. Each agent is hardwired to a particular JVMD Manager. JVMD Agents can be deployed to J2EE containers, standalone JVM's and the database.
The diagram below illustrates this architecture:
Before starting the process, ensure that the Oracle WebLogic Server Management Pack Enterprise Edition is licensed and installed (manually or via Self Update).
- Install the JVMD Manager - Typically the JVMD Manager is deployed to the OMS Server but can also be deployed standalone and/or multiple JVMD managers can be installed for larger numbers of targets to manage. There is a video from Oracle Learning Library on Youtube explaining how to do this step.
- Deploy the JVMD Agent to the Oracle WebLogic Server housing the product online using the Middleware Management function within Oracle Enterprise Manager using the Application Performance Management option. This will add the Agent to your installation. There is a process for deploying the agent automatically to a running WebLogic Server. Again there is a Youtube video describing this technique.
One the agent is installed the JVMD agent will start sending diagnostics of java code running within that JVM to Oracle Enterprise Manager.
Customers using the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities will see the JVMD link from their Oracle Utilities targets (it is also available from the Oracle WebLogic targets). For example:
Once selecting the Java Virtual Machine Pool for the server you will get access to the full diagnostics information.
This include historical analysis
JVMD is a useful tool for identifying bottlenecks in code and in the architecture. In future articles I will add database diagnostics and batch diagnostics to get a full end to end picture of diagnostics.
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The twitter account is https://twitter.com/theshortenspot. Use your favorite twitter client (or just the browser) to view the tweets...
One of the new features of Oracle Utilities Application Framework V188.8.131.52.1 for Oracle WebLogic customers is that new installation of the product will be using HTTPS rather than HTTP by default. In past releases it was always possible to use HTTPS instead of HTTP but the decision was an opt-in decision. In this release since the use of HTTPS is provided as the default option, the decision is an opt-out if you do not want to use the HTTPS installation option.
Customers upgrading will not be affected as the configuration decision is retained across upgrades.
If you do use the default HTTPS setup you should be aware of the following:
- By default, a demonstration development certification is provided with Oracle WebLogic. This certificate is limited in its scope and is only provided to complete a basic HTTPS configuration within Oracle WebLogic. The certificate will be detected as not valid by your browser. This is not a bug but intentional behavior as Oracle cannot issue production quality certificates in Oracle WebLogic as part of its base installation. If the default certificate is used, developers can accept the certificate according their browser preferences (Mozilla Firefox will ask you to add an exception and Internet Explorer will ask you to confirm that is ok to proceed). If you proceed the browser will indicate you are using a digital certificate visually on the address bar of the browser (this will vary from browser to browser).
- It is HIGHLY recommended that customers who want to use the HTTPS functionality obtain a valid digital certificate from a valid certificate issuing authority and implement the certificate as per the Installation Guide or WebLogic documentation.
- To find out the valid Certificate issuing authorities supported by the java version you have use the following command:
keytool -list -v -keystore $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/security/cacerts
The bottom line is that if you want to use HTTPS then get a valid certificate for your organization, otherwise you can opt-out and use HTTP if that is valid for your site. Typically, most installations are expected to use HTTP for non-production and HTTPS for production to minimize costs.
The What's New in FW4 whitepaper is a whitepaper that summarizes all the major changes from Oracle Utilities Application Framework V2.2 to Oracle Utilities Application Framework V184.108.40.206.1.
It has been updated for new functionality and changes implemented in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V220.127.116.11.1.
It is available from My Oracle Support at What's New In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 (Doc Id: 1177265.1).
Note: In earlier versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 some features have been introduced that have been replaced with newer features in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V18.104.22.168.1. In this case, the entries in the What's New have been altered to remove these replaced features. Refer to the release notes for the version of Oracle Utilities Application Framework for details of this replaced functionality.
Oracle is progressively moving their products to a new exciting user experience called Oracle Alta.This new interface style optimizes the user interface for both desktop and mobile platforms with a unified user experience. The features of the new interface are too numerous to mention but here is a summary of the Oracle Alta implementation in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V22.214.171.124.1 and above:
- The user interface is clearer and with a more modern look and feel. An example is shown below:
- The implementation of Oracle Alta for Oracle Utilities uses the Oracle Jet version of the Alta interface which was integrated into the Oracle Utilities Application Framework rendering engine.
- For easier adoption, the existing product screens have been converted to Alta with as small amount of changes as possible. This means training for adoption is minimized and helps existing customers adopt the new user interface quicker. Over subsequent releases new user experiences will be added to existing screens or new screens to take full advantage of the user experience.
- There are a few structural changes on the screens to improve the user experience as part of the Alta adoption:
- The fly-out menu on left in past releases has been replaced with a new menu toolbar. The buttons that appear on the toolbar will depend on the services that user is connected to on their security definition. An example of the toolbar is shown below:
- User preferences and common user functions are now on a menu attached to the user. For example:
- Portals and Zones now have page actions attached in the top right of their user interfaces (the example at the top of this article illustrates an example of this behavior). The buttons displayed are dynamic will vary from zone to zone, portal to portal and user to user depending on the available functions and the users security authorizations.
- In query portals, searches can now be saved as named. In past releases, it was possible to only change the default view for an alternative. It is now possible to alter the criteria, column sequencing, column sorting and column view for a query view and save that as a named search to jump to. It is possible to have multiple different views of the same query zone available from a context menu. The end user can build new views, alter existing views or remove views as necessary. All of this functionality is security controlled to allow sites to define what individual users can and cannot do. Also, views can be inherited from template users in line with bookmarks, favorites etc. An example of the saved view context menu is shown below:
- Menu's have changed. In the past the menu item supported the Search action (the default action) or "+" to add a new record. In Alta, these are now separate submenu's. For example:
- Page titles have been moved to the top of zones to improve usability. The example at the top of this article illustrates this point. The User page title used to be above zone in the middle, now it is up the top left of the portal or zone.
- Bookmarking has been introduced. This is akin to browser bookmarking where the page and the context for that page are stored with the bookmark for quick traversal. The Bookmark button will appear on pages that can be bookmarked.
- The new user interface allows Oracle Utilities products to support a wide range of browsers and client platforms including mobile platforms. Refer to the Installation Guides for each product to find the browsers and client platforms supported at the time of release.
This article is just a summary of the user interface changes. There will other articles in the future to cover user interface aspects, and other enhancements, in more detail.
The Technical best Practices and Batch Best Practices whitepapers have been updated with new and changed advice for Oracle Utilities Application Framework V126.96.36.199.1. Advice for previous versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework have been included as well.
The whitepapers are available from My Oracle Support at the following document ids:
Oracle Utilities is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing V2.5 with the new Oracle Utilities Application Framework V188.8.131.52.1. This new release features the following:
- New Look and Feel - The user experience has been upgraded to support the new Oracle Alta Look and Feel which is being progressively implemented across Oracle products. This release allows for better visibility with new useability features such as bookmarking, named query views as well as a cleaner user interface.
- Support for different browsers - Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 2.5 and Oracle Utilities Application Framework V184.108.40.206.1 now supports Microsoft Internet Explorer in native mode (compatibility mode is no longer required) and now supports Mozilla Firefox. Other browsers will be added in service packs.
- 100 % Java implementation - Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 2.5 is now 100% java. Oracle Utilities Application Framework V220.127.116.11.1 has removed support for COBOL based extensions. This results in a simpler implementations with overall lower memory requirements.
- Optimized for latest Oracle technology - Oracle Utilities Application Framework has been optimized for use with Oracle Database 12c and Oracle WebLogic 12.1.3 and above.
- New Graph engine - A new engine to generate graphs has been introduced that is backward compatible with existing graphs but now offers additional features to enhance the user experience and display data in a more flexible way. This also removes the necessity for Flash integration for graphs.
- ConfigLab/Archiving Engine has been removed - The ConfigLab functionality has been removed from the product as the Configuration Migration Assistant, introduced in the past release, provides an alternative. The inbuilt Archiving engine has been removed from the product as the ILM based solution, introduced in Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 18.104.22.168.0, provides a viable, more powerful and more flexible alternative.
- XAI menu items migration - With the announced deprecation of XML Application Integration (XAI), components retained for future releases have been moved to a new External Message menu and renamed accordingly. XAI Servlet is provided in maintenance mode, with all potential enhancements frozen, in this release to allow customers to migrate to Inbound Web Services and other mechanisms accordingly.
- New platform versions supported - New platforms and versions have been added to this release to allow for maximum supportability and performance.
This information is available with more information in the release notes provided with the software download. The software is available for download on Oracle Software Delivery Cloud today. In the coming weeks a number of whitepapers will be release outlining the new features as well as a set of articles highlighting new features.
A minor update has been added to the Technical Best Practices in response to some customer feedback. There are some instructions on how to build a data model for data modelling tools such as SQL Developer Data Modeler and Enterprise Manager's Data Masking and Subsetting Pack (formerly known as Test Data Management Pack).
The SQL to build the model has been updated to include some additional constraints available in OUAF 4.2 and above.
Customers intending to build the data model using this technique should refer to the updated instructions in Technical Best Practices for Oracle Utilities Application Framework Based Products (Doc Id: 560367.1) available from My Oracle Support.
In past releases of Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing, a sample Web Self Service (WSS) set of code was shipped for customers and partners to build their own Web Self Service applications.
The WSS sample code has been removed from the Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing product in Version 22.214.171.124.0 and above.
It is highly recommended that customers using WSS consider migrating to Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service for a fully integrated self service solution.
The Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service has superior functionality with the following advantages:
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service is a production ready web application based around industry standards with advanced functionality.
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service is pre-integrated with functionality within single and/or multiple Oracle Utilities products.
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service provide superior levels of scalability and availability utilizing Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture.
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service provides customer communication methods for communicating to end customers including web, mobile etc..
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service allows for greater customization options including skin support and portal customization.
One of the common requirements of an IT group is to rack the availability of a system. A system is the total end to end architecture for a particular product. All of the components need to be tracked to truly determine whether the system is available or not.
Within Oracle Enterprise Manager it is possible to track each component individually and is also possible to create a definition which groups the targets in an architecture together with some availability rules. This is known as a Generic System target within Oracle Enterprise Manager. Using the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities in combination with other targets it is possible to define such a target to track the overall availability of the Oracle Utilities product.
Here is how you can set it up. Note: The example below uses Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing as an example, this technique applies to any Oracle Utilities product supported by the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities.
- Logon to Oracle Enterprise Manager using an appropriate administration user.
- Navigate to the Setup --> Add Target --> Generic System menu option to initiate the maintenance of the Generic System target. For example:
- Fill in the appropriate settings for your Generic System.
- Name the system appropriately for your site.
- Add comments which are useful for other administrators to understand the target. This might sound trivial but some comments can help other administrators understand the system represented by this target
- The Privilege Propogating System allows administrators to grant priviledges to other administrators in a manner in which new administrators get the same privileges as its member targets. In other words, granting a privilege to a system target may grant the same privileges to the member targets, if Privilege Propogating System is enabled.
- Time Zone is set for the target just like any other target for scheduling etc..
- System Properties allows you to add additional tagging information.
- Select the targets to be added to the System definition. At a minimum consider the following:
- Add the Oracle Utilities Batch Server, Oracle Utilities Web Application and Oracle Utilities Web Services Application to the Generic System. Avoid adding the Oracle Utilities Home and Oracle Utilities System Environment targets as they do not have any availability status.
- Add the base Fusion Middleware targets including the Oracle WebLogic Domain, Oracle WebLogic Server and Application Deployment targets associated with Oracle Utilities products. Customers using Inbound Web Services should also add that Web Services Application Deployment to track Web Services availability. Oracle WebLogic Cluster targets can be also added if desired.
- Add the database targets associated with the environment (if you want to track them as well) whether that the Database Instance target (for non-PDB or Oracle 11 and below targets) or Pluggable Database targets (for PDB implementations in Oracle 12c).
- Avoid duplication of targets. For example, avoid adding Host targets as the child targets are already covered.
- If you have other targets in your architecture then consider adding them such as SOA etc.. Remember that you may only use targets that are in the base Oracle Enterprise Manager or you have licensed.
- Once all the targets are selected, you can proceed to the next stages. For example:
- Confirm the relationships between the targets. Oracle Enterprise Manager will typically default all of it for you but you can add or modify your own relationships as necessary. For example:
- The next step is to identify the Key Members used to track availability. Targets that are not Key Members are also tracked but do not contribute to the overall system definition of availability. You might ask then why we should added them into a definition. Well, Generic System targets are used for other purposes (that will be covered in another article). Here are a few guidelines:
- Select targets that are key to the architecture that will represent the critical points of your architecture.
- Use parent objects to cover as many child objects as possible. For example, use Oracle WebLogic Servers or Oracle WebLogic Cluster as Key Members to cover the Applications deployed within those servers/clusters. This optimizes the definition by minimizing the definitions.
- Ensure you cover each component of the architecture at least once in your Key Member definition to cover the end to end architecture.
- Decide whether you want to consider either all or at least one target is available to consider the system available.
- At a minimum use Oracle WebLogic Server target associated with the Oracle Utilities product deployments to cover online and Web Services, at least one Oracle Utilities Batch Server to cover batch and the database as Key Members for Oracle Utilities products. For example:
- The next step allows you to define the metrics and columns to be displayed on the home screen and dashboard for the Generic System target. For the example, the defaults are taken. For example:
- Review the definition for completeness. You can alter the definition at any time after saving it or now using the breadcrumbs at the top of the page to navigate to the definition you want to change. For example:
- The Generic System target is now available for your tracking within Oracle Enterprise Manager. For example:
- The Generic System target is now also available from the targets page like all other targets. For example:
These targets are very useful and can be defined at a low or high level (and any level in between those extremes). They can be modelled on your IT group or just generically. This technique can combine targets from many different compoennts of the architecture.
For customers wishing to run Oracle Utilities products on Internet Explorer versions greater than Internet Explorer 8, you must use compatibility mode to support the vastly different levels of standards represented by the different versions of Internet Explorer.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- In IE9 and IE10 you can open the site and then click the Compatibility Mode icon next to the URL to add the sites URL to the compatibility list. Refer to the article from Microsoft on this.
- In IE11 you can access the Compatibility Mode Settings from the Tools menu and add the URL directly. Refer to this help page for details.
- Customers using Microsoft's Enterprise utilities such as IEAK and others such as Group Policy, can prepopulate this list using Enterprise Mode. Refer to this document for details of this process.
Use of compatibility mode ensures a wide range of Internet Explorer versions can work with Oracle Utilities applications allowing customers to migrate their sites to newer versions as necessary.
This article is also available from My Oracle Support at Running Oracle Utilities Applications in Internet Explorer Compatibility Mode (Doc Id: 1997802.1)
In the 126.96.36.199.0 release of Oracle Utilities Application Framework, a new ILM based data management solution was implemented to allow customers to manage the increasing cost of storage for their Oracle Utilities products. It is being progressively rolled out across each of the Oracle Utilities products over the next year. With utilities across the world having to deal with larger and larger data volumes over time, the cost of storing that data and ensuring appropriate access by the business to that data become key concerns. ILM offers tools to address that.
The benefits of using this facility are as follows:
- ILM is about designing the lifecycle of your transaction data in a storage point of view. The first step of implementing the approach is for the business to define the data retention period for individual objects within the product itself. This defines the active period of the data, in days, where the business wants active update actions on the data. One of the major issues in data storage is the ability for the business and IT to commit to communicate when the business needs active access to the data. This addresses this by making it explicit in configuration.
- When a transactional object, that is ILM enabled, is created, the data is then automatically tracked internally using ILM specific fields. This defines when the date to consider the data active from (ILM_DT) and a flag indicating the ILM status of the record (ILM_ARCH_SW) in terms of the business. An easy way to remember this is that the date set for ILM is basically a ticking clock. As soon as the record is created, the ILM clock starts. It tells the product when to consider the before mentioned retention period from in respect to that individual object.
- As the ILM data is part of the object itself, it can be manipulated by any custom business process if desired. For example, say some customer transaction data was due to expire but the utility receives a complaint at the last minute on that data. It is possible to create a customization to delay the individual records, to keep them active, till the complaint is resolved. This basically means the ILM data can be manipulated by a business process, if desired.
- A dedicated background process, known as an ILM Crawler, assesses data when it expires to make sure nothing is outstanding on the object and indicates this state using an ILM flag. This tells the IT group that the individual data is now considered less-active by the business so the IT group can now manage the storage using Oracle's ILM facilities.
- The ILM flag effectively protects the data from any storage based solutions as long as it is needed by the business. The business can defer the lifecycle of the individual objects as needed and internal processes affecting the flag will ensure the data is protected if it is still active.
- The IT Group is free to reuse their storage solutions capabilities or use the ILM features within the database such as partitioning, compression and now in Oracle Database 12c, Automatic Data Optimization.
- The cost savings in terms of storage can be realized in a number of ways:
- Partitioning - Product tables can be partitioning along data retention times to realize cost savings using tiered storage solutions. For example, placing less active data on lower cost storage saves costs. Partitioning also means you can use Transportable Tablespaces to quickly remove data that is dormant (not needed by the business at all). Transportable tablespaces are also useful for restoring data.
- Compression - Oracle offers a full range of compression options from basic compression built into the database, the optional Advanced Compression option which offers flexible row level compression optimized for OLTP systems to the high performance HCC compression offered by Oracle ExaData,
- Automatic Data Optimization (ADO)/Heat Map - This allows real time tracking of data usage regardless of the state or business activity of the data. This feature coupled with Partitioning and/or Compression allows sites to realize additional savings regardless of the state data as it is based upon real usage rather than expected usage. For example, customers may want to keep two years of data as active on the database. In reality, they may not update the data after 1 year, ADO determines the last date/time the record was updated and can compress the data automatically if it detects that it has not been updated for a while, which realizes more savings.
- The tools for the technical definition of ILM are available from the command line, Oracle Database Control, Oracle EM Express, ILM Assistant or Oracle Enterprise Manager. These are tools that most DBA's and technical people will already be familiar with so skills can be reused in this respect.
The ILM based data management solution for Oracle Utilities, a powerful and flexible solution that marries the business needs for data against the storage costs associated with that retention. It allow sites to realize costs savings whilst retaining appropriate business access to data.