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Autumn/Winter 15 Issue 58

Java Cloud Service


Scratching the surface of what it
offers for WebLogic Admins

APEX 5
Features that make life easier and
work more fun for Developers

Apps Upgrade Options


Do you go leading edge, bleeding
edge or avoid the edge altogether?

OracleScene
Serving the Oracle Community

The Pursuit
of Enterprise
Mobility

This editions
sponsors:

www.ukoug.org
An independent publication not affiliated with
Oracle Corporation

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Welcome to Oracle Scene

Inside this issue


Oracle Scene Editorial Team
Editor: Brendan Tierney
Email: editor@ukoug.org
Deputy Editor (Tech): Martin Widlake
Deputy Editor (Apps): Currently vacant
UKOUG Contact: Brigit Wells
Email: brigit@ukoug.org
Sales: Kerry Stuart
Email: kerry@ukoug.org
UKOUG Governance
A full listing of Board members, along with
details of how the user group is governed,
can be found at:
www.ukoug.org/about-us/governance
UKOUG Office
UK Oracle User Group, User Group House,
591-593 Kingston Road, Wimbledon
London, SW20 8SA
Tel: +44 (0)20 8545 9670
Email: info@ukoug.org
Web: www.ukoug.org
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Next Oracle Scene Issues
Issue 59: March 2016
Content deadline: 11th January
Issue 60: June 2016
Content deadline: 4th April
Issue 61: September 2016
Content deadline: 27th June
Issue 62: December 2016
Content deadline: 5th September

More than 15,000 people


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OracleScene UK Oracle User Group Ltd


The views stated in Oracle Scene are the views of the
author and not those of the UK Oracle User Group Ltd.
We do not make any warranty for the accuracy of any
published information and the UK Oracle User Group
will assume no responsibility or liability regarding the
use of such information. All articles are published on
the understanding that copyright remains with the
individual authors. The UK Oracle User Group reserves
the right, however, to reproduce an article, in whole
or in part, in any other user group publication. The
reproduction of this publication by any third party,
in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without
the express written consent of the UK Oracle User
Group. Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle
Corporation and /or its affiliates, used under license.
This publication is an independent publication,
not affiliated or otherwise associated with Oracle
Corporation. The opinions, statements, positions
and views stated herein are those of the author(s) or
publisher and are not intended to be the opinions,
statements, positions, or views of Oracle Corporation.

www.ukoug.org

08

ORACLE MOBILE CLOUD SERVICE


TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW

12

JAVA CLOUD SERVICE:


QUESTIONS A WEBLOGIC
ADMINISTRATOR MIGHT ASK

by Chris Muir

32

WHY USE ORACLE ENTERPRISE


ARCHITECTURE?
by Phil Wilkins

by Simon Haslam

54

A ROADMAP FOR
DECIDING AN ORACLE
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY

by Kartik Subbaraman & Chinmay Jain

TECHNOLOGY

Mastering the APEX Universal Theme by Roel Hartman


An Introduction to Oracle Read Consistency by Martin Widlake
Oracle Standard Edition Database Something for the Enterprise?
by Ann Sjkvist
Virtual Tuning by Jonathan Lewis
Write Less Code, With More New Oracle 12c Features by Oren Nakdimon

17
24
28

35
38

APPLICATIONS
Oracle Tears Down the Final Barriers to Cloud Adoption:
Finding Your Perfect Path to the Cloud by Joyce Boland
Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Steve Davis
Integrated Real-Time Reporting from E-Business Suite at the
University of Oxford by Susan Gillis

44
50
58

BUSINESS & STRATEGY

Key Considerations for Cloud Adoption: A Decision Framework


by Sean Snow

EVENTS

UKOUG 2016 Calendar of Events


UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards: Presenting Your 2015/16 Winners

FOCUS ON

Women in IT: Ambition in the Face of Adversity


Striking the Right Balance by Debra Lilley

ADVERTORIALS
VIP Apps
Certus Solutions

News & Reviews

D I G I T A L

67
20

48
16

57
42

REGULAR FEATURES

OracleScene

62

06

View the latest edition and access the online archive:


www.ukoug.org/os

03

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

First Word

First word
Welcome to this bumper winter edition of Oracle
Scene. Yes it is a larger edition as we have squeezed
in as much practical content as it was possible to
because this is the type of content you have been
telling us that you love to see.
This edition also coincides with the big annual flagship
UKOUG conferences. These are the Technology (TECH15),
Applications (APPS15) and the JD Edwards (JDE15) conferences.
This year Apps15 & Tech15 are co-locating with JDE15 at the
ICC in Birmingham after spending the last couple of years in
Manchester and Liverpool. I really love these conferences, they
are the best and one of the cheapest ways to access the latest
and greatest of what is going on in your area of expertise.
Again this year there is the Super Sunday event prior to these
conferences. If youre going to Tech15 and can get to Birmingham
on the Sunday morning you can attend some top notch sessions
covering core internals of the Oracle Database, lots of topics for
the APEX fans, practical sessions on Cloud and then there is my
favourite topic of Analytics and BI. But sign up quick for the Super
Sunday event as places are limited. You sign up as part of your
Tech15 registration via www.tech15.ukoug.org.
I said earlier that this is a bumper edition. We had such an
incredible number of fantastic articles submitted and what you
see in this edition is just a subset of what we could have included.
Were holding onto a lot more for the next edition. I would like
to thank everyone for submitting not just for this edition of
Oracle Scene but to all our editions this year. We look forward to
receiving your articles in 2016 and beyond.

ABOUT
THE
EDITOR

In 2016 we will be increasing the size of each edition to


accommodate more content around applications, cloud
applications and business/IT strategy related topics. With this
in mind were looking to expand the editorial team for Oracle
Scene. It is a pleasure to welcome Martin Widlake to the editorial
team as a deputy editor to focus on the Oracle Database and
Technology related content. We also have another position to
fill. Do you work with Oracle Applications? If so would you be
interested in stepping up and joining the editorial team as deputy
editor focusing on Oracle Applications content? If the answer is
yes and you feel you can add value to the editorial team in this
area, then get in touch with me or talk to any of the UKOUG staff
or Board for more information.
Id like to take this opportunity to send you all festive greetings
and best wishes for the New Year. We will have more articles and
more Oracle Scenes for you in 2016. If you would like to be in the
next edition the submission deadline is 11th January.

More information on submitting an article can be


found online at: www.ukoug.org/oraclescene

Brendan Tierney
Consultant, Oralytics.com
Brendan is an Oracle ACE Director, independent consultant and lectures on
Data Mining and Advanced Databases in DIT in Ireland. Brendan has extensive
experience working in the areas of Analytics, Data Mining, Data Warehousing, Data
Architecture and Database Design for over 20 years. He started working with the
Oracle 5 Database, Forms 2.3 and ReportWriter 1.1, and has worked with all versions
since then. Brendan is editor of the UKOUG Oracle Scene magazine and is the deputy
chair of the OUG Ireland BI SIG. Brendan is a regular presenter at conferences
around the world.
Contact Brendan at: editor@ukoug.org

04

www.ukoug.org

flexible

hardworking

UKOUG Membership

helpful

friendly

professional

informative

Meet the UKOUG


accessible

confident

charasmatic

Knowledgeable

organised

Membership Team
efficient

skilled

cheery

driven

experienced

Martin Smithers

Ashley Soucy

Michelle Harris

Martin has worked in membership


organisations for over 15 years and
takes pride in helping members to get
the most out of their investments.

Ashley is new to membership but has


worked in customer service for five
years. She focuses on providing the best
customer journey in any field.

Michelle has been involved in various


systems projects both within and
without membership, with a focus on
continuous improvement.

What makes Martin tick?


I love travelling and spending time in
my vegetable garden

What makes Ashley tick?


I enjoy good movies and spending time
with friends

What makes Michelle tick?


I like to write and explore new places

Head of Membership

Membership Executive

The Membership Team...

Business Systems Support

Come and find us on the UKOUG stand (44) this December at


one of our national conferences, wed love to have a chat with
you. Whether weve met before or not, its always good to catch
up - we can discuss membership, your conference experience,
favourite animals... whatever you fancy.

Thinking about training for 2016?


UKOUG members benefit from exclusive discounts on Oracleapproved certification with our education partner - it really can
make a difference to your training costs, so come and ask us what
we have on offer.

Do you get the best out of your Oracle licence?


Find out at the UKOUG Licence Management Event on the
15th March 2016 and make sure youre up to date with all the
small print.

Elections are coming...

Stay informed with #ukoug_lme16 and book at


www.ukoug.org/lme or come to our stand in the Exhibition Hall

If youre interested in getting involved in leading your user group,


we have the following positions coming up for election in Spring
2016: Member Advocate and President Elect. Get in touch with
us to find out more about the roles and how you go about
submitting a nomination.

See us on stand 44 at Apps15, JDE15 & Tech15 or contact us today


on +44 (0)20 8545 9670 / info@ukoug.org
05

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

News & Reviews

Licence to Grill... FORTHCOMING


EVENTS
the Experts!
January
UKOUG Database Server SIG, London

K E N S I N G T O N C L O S E H O T E L | L O N D O N | #ukoug_lme16

February
UKOUG Project Management SIG,
London
UKOUG Hyperion SIG, London
UKOUG Oracle Financials SIG, London

Share your licensing questions and


better understand how to manage your
Oracle assets at our next UKOUG Licence
Management Event. The agenda will be
revealed at this years Apps15 and Tech15
conferences, rendezvous at our LME taster
sessions to be briefed on what to expect
from this event.

March
OUG Ireland 2016, Dublin
UKOUG Business Analytics SIG, London
UKOUG Application Server &
Middleware SIG, Solihull
UKOUG HCM SIG, London
UKOUG Licence Management Event
2016, London
UKOUG Systems SIG, London

15TH MARCH 2016

94% of delegates at our last Licence


Management Event rated their overall
satisfaction as good/very good/excellent.
Heres what they said:

Pretty inspiring, I work on a larger


customer estate than Britvic but what
they managed to do in such a short
space of time is impressive
This was excellent... a lot of useful tips
and conversations were had
Very informative

See page 67 for the 2016 calendar


and www.ukoug.org/events for
more information.

Secure your place now at:


http://bit.ly/ukoug_lme16

partneroftheyear

2016 Dates
Were excited to announce that
Oracle Scene is evolving into a
quarterly magazine in 2016.
The larger magazine will offer the
same amount of content for our
technical readers, but from spring
2016 will also enable us to include
more pages for the non-technical
reader too. So if you are working
in the applications space and have
stories to share with our readers, we
want to hear from you! Make a note
of the 2016 deadlines below and
send your article proposals and/
or finalised pieces to
articles@ukoug.org
Issue 59
11th January
Issue 60
4th April
Issue 61
27th June
Issue 62
5th September

06

2015/16

Wed like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in voting for UKOUG
Partner of the Year Awards 2015/16. We received a staggering 4,666 votes from more
than 2,300 Oracle end-users around the world - the highest weve ever had and its all
down to you! Your winners received their awards at a ceremony on 15th October. Check
out pages 20-22 to see who topped the winners table in each category.

Women
in IT

December Breakfast
Meeting
On Tuesday 8th December from 08:00 09:00 well be hosting our Women in IT
breakfast meeting at Apps15, JDE15 &
Tech15 for all members of the community
to network and find out more about how

UKOUG

Out n
About

this initiative will be moving forwards into


2016. Find out more on the agenda pages
of each conference website. We hope to
see you there!
www.ukoug.org/conferences2015

Come and see us at the Oracle Modern Customer Experience


conference on 2-3 February 2016 at the InterContinental London O2. Well have members of our team there ready to run through your
membership options and tell you more about UKOUG activities.
www.moderncustomerexperience.oracle.com/london
www.ukoug.org

News & Reviews

Delivering
Direct ROI
to Partners

Generating brand awareness, exposure to the market and


explaining your offering to potential clients is imperative to
your business success and working with UKOUG is one of the
ways this can be achieved.
Many of our partners start small, usually by taking a stand
and maybe some sponsorship at a UKOUG conference. This is
exactly what Beoley Mill Software (BMS) did and they reaped
the rewards. Exhibiting gave BMS a platform to talk face-toface with genuinely engaged potential customers generating
many leads to follow up on. The work generated from their first
UKOUG event realised 240,000 of revenue from just 3,000
expenditure. Needless to say they have returned every year since
and now regularly contribute to conference sessions as well.
UKOUG helped BMS to become the UK market leader in their
field with a turnover of 12 million. Stuart Rimmer, Chief

Executive Officer of BMS believes We would have eventually


reached our goal, but without partnering with UKOUG it
would have taken far longer. Partnering with UKOUG is an
essential element of BMSs marketing mix, ensuring we retain
our position in the market by continuing to engage with new
customers and building our relationship with existing ones.
Create your own package
If you regularly participate in UKOUG events and activities youll
save money with an annual agreement. By committing upfront
to the year were able to leverage discount and maximise your
exposure to the membership.
To find out how we can support the promotion of your
organisation or take advantage of a 2016 annual agreement,
get in touch with Kerry Stuart on +44 (0)20 8545 9685.

UKOUG Leadership Roles


Nominations Opening Shortly
UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG) is
governed by a number of elected and
appointed leadership positions that make
up the UKOUG Board.

the following positions up for election Member Advocate and President Elect.
We will be announcing the call for
nominations shortly.

Board member tenures are staggered


to ensure stability and continuity
which means that every year there are
positions up for election. 2016 will see

Find out more about the roles at


www.ukoug.org/getinvolved and if youre
interested in submitting a nomination
contact the UKOUG Appointments Group.

www.ukoug.org/about-us/governance/
appointments-group

OUG Ireland 2016

OUG Scotland 2016

Call for Papers Now Open

Call for Papers Opening Soon

OUG Ireland 2016 is now open for abstract submissions.


All thats needed is just 250 words on what you would like
to present and who your target audience is. Closing date is
09:00 on 4th January 2016.

At the time of publishing the committee are still finalising


details, however, the call for papers is likely to cover similar
topic areas to the 2015 event. Keep an eye on the website for
more information.

www.oug.org/ireland

www.oug.org/scotland

www.ukoug.org

07

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology

Oracle
Mobile Cloud Service
Technology Overview
Addressing the enterprise challenges of moving to a mobility-first world
Mobility, in an era of disruptive digital technology, has become a priority for
enterprises to remain competitive and keeping their ever more mobile savvy staff
and customers happy. Yet in adopting the mobile-first mantra enterprises quickly
realise that there are significant challenges in providing mobile solutions beyond
creating their first Android or iOS apps. Security, mobile to enterprise integration,
data integrity and synchronisation, governance, analytics, all these cornerstones
of sound enterprise development do not disappear in the mobile world, but in
fact become more critical for enterprise mobile apps where your standard 8 to 5
corporate user becomes a 24 by 7 mobile user.
Chris Muir, Senior Principal Mobility and Development Tools Product Manager, Oracle
To tackle these concerns head on,
Oracle has introduced Oracle Mobile
Cloud Service, a specialised mobile PaaS
commonly known in the mobility industry
as a Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS).
A typical MBaaS is designed to reduce the
burden on mobile development efforts,
essentially reducing the time to market
taken by your development efforts.
Oracle Mobile Cloud Service differentiates
itself from the MBaaS crowd by not
just addressing the needs of the mobile
developer, but all parts of the business in
building and delivering and monitoring a
successful mobile campaign.

08

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Chris Muir

FIGURE 2
FIGURE 1

In this technology focused article, well explore, from a high


technical level, the major moving pieces of Oracle Mobile Cloud
Service so you can become familiar with it as a platform, as well
as its capabilities and what advantages it will provide you.

These SDKs written in the native language of each mobile


platform further address the development effort by reducing the
size of numerous REST API code calls, often taking 10 to 20 lines
of code each, to nothing more than 3 or 4 lines in many cases.

Design Time Overview

This leaves mobile developers time to focus


on building a compelling mobile application
over dealing with essentially a code-centric
integration challenge.

An introduction to the main Oracle Mobile Cloud Service


components is best highlighted by studying figure 1.
From the far left to far right, overall a key challenge that Oracle
Mobile Cloud Service is designed to solve is to simplify the
integration of your mobile applications, be they on Android or iOS
for example, with your enterprise systems, be they on-premise
legacy systems, other cloud or internet solutions, and Oracles
contemporary cloud product portfolio. In doing so Oracle Mobile
Cloud Service shapes the enterprise payloads, for example
potentially heavy weight SOAP services or other package specific
protocols, into light weight, fast, secure, RESTful services beloved
if not demanded of mobile developers everywhere.

This focus on giving mobile developers


what they want rather than just providing
another enterprise centric integration
solution is another key design tenet of Oracle
Mobile Cloud Service. Mobile developers are
extremely skilled at finding and adopting 3rd
party frameworks and APIs for their mobile
needs and tastes.
In providing mobile APIs Oracle Mobile Cloud Service takes great
care to provide mobile friendly RESTful services so that mobile
developers feel at home rather than feeling like they need to
swallow a proprietary non portable enterprise solution.
To take this one step further to really make mobile developers
cheer, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service provides native SDKs for the
likes of Android, iOS and Oracle Mobile Application Framework.
www.ukoug.org

Returning to figure 2 for each mobile application your enterprise


builds, within Oracle Mobile Cloud Service a Mobile Backend
is provisioned to act as a gateway for allowing access to the
various capabilities. The mobile backend maps to a Realm of
mobile users and their roles to give specific access to the APIs
required by the mobile application.
In terms of APIs Oracle Mobile Cloud Service provides both
prebuilt mobile specific APIs known as Platform APIs, as well
as custom built APIs by Oracle Mobile Cloud Service developers
known as Custom APIs, externalised to be consumed by your
mobile applications as RESTful endpoints. Platform APIs
provide the likes of mobile user management services, push
notifications, cloud storage, data synchronisation, analytics and
more, all designed to reduce the burden on mobile developers by
providing mobile centric services, ultimately increasing the pace
which you can deliver mobile solutions as these are provided out
of the box.
Alternatively, Custom APIs are a feature that allows service
developers in Oracle Mobile Cloud Service to, as the name
implies, build their own APIs backed by Node.js. There really are
unlimited options of what can be built, but a primary use case
is building a Custom API to allow your mobile application to
retrieve and transform data from your end enterprise systems,
or even disparate cloud or web resources, in a mobile optimised
payload.
Node.js is a noteworthy inclusion in the Oracle Mobile
Cloud Service specific mix. Node.js is a server side JavaScript

>>
09

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Chris Muir

FIGURE 3
FIGURE 4

framework specialising in server solutions, specifically those


working on the HTTP request-response cycle. Node.js is
incredibly popular with a huge developer community and
numerous 3rd party available modules. Of special note, Node.
js uses an extremely fast asynchronous non-blocking I/O
programming model that makes it ideal for high throughput
server solutions like that required by mobile. Given its
JavaScript roots the language syntax is also highly familiar to
many existing development teams with a JavaScript and Java
background, with the benefit of not having to deal with the
messy DOM programming model that web developers have to
tackle each day. Essentially JavaScript is no longer just a browser
solution, its ideal for server side programming too through the
likes of Node.js.
Beyond the custom APIs and Node.js implementation, to avoid
the mistake of coding security and connection details to external
services across numerous Node.js modules, Oracle Mobile Cloud
Service provides the concept of Connectors. A connector centralises
the settings around the external connections such as security
policies, so they are set once in your overall code base, easily
modified when you move your application from development
to staging/testing to production. In addition connectors provide
smarts under the covers to optimise for the mobile use case, for
example the SOAP technology specific connector automatically
converts heavy weight XML payloads to light weight JSON
payloads, instantly optimised for mobile delivery.

Beyond the Code

The Oracle Mobile Cloud Service development capabilities


stretch beyond code, APIs, integration and connections. Oracle
Mobile Cloud Service takes care to consider the typical lifecycle
of a mobile app and how it fits into the world of enterprise IT
processes too.

Oracle Mobile Cloud Service allows teams


to migrate the design time modules from
development to staging (testing) to production
environments as the application matures.

10

In addition the design time modules can be activated and


deactivated, published (locked) and versioned according to your
development, testing and production needs.
Another debilitating challenge in mobile development is when
things start to go wrong, how do you track down the issue? As
example service providers forget to communicate changes to
the external services youre dependent on, apps crash and your
mobile users quickly become irate.
Firstly, across the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service user interface
each API actively exposes test pages to each RESTful endpoint
so you can fire off tests without having to build a whole mobile
application to do so. This allows teams to isolate the mobile
application out of the equation and focus on the integration side
where problems may lie.

In centralising mobile integration through


Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, essentially a
channel between the mobile front ends and
rear enterprise systems, Oracle Mobile Cloud
Service has been designed to take advantage
of where it sits.
An extensive and light weight diagnostics and logging
framework looks into every API call, such that when things do
go wrong, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service gives developers and
administrators an insight into what is actually going on in each
API call, errors, warts and all. Stepping further back, Oracle
Mobile Cloud Service administrators can quickly monitor the
overall health of their solution with a highly visual dashboard.

Searching for Business Success

In looking into the needs of enterprises wanting to build mobile


applications, Oracle considered not just the developers needs,
but also what the business needs to know about the success
of the mobile apps delivered to customers and staff. Mobile

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Chris Muir

applications are intrinsically linked to business processes and


their KPIs, as well as marketing campaigns and other business
oriented initiatives. Rather than just delivering an app,
many enterprises want to judge the success of their mobile
applications to drive the success of their business too.

For example, if mobile users are easily getting confused and


referring to the mobile app help pages, these analytic events can
easily be captured and reported back to the Oracle Mobile Cloud
Service analytics dashboard.

To meet the business needs Oracle Mobile Cloud Service


makes analytics a core function. Business stakeholders can log
into Oracle Mobile Cloud Service and, through the analytics
dashboard, look to how many users are using the app, where
theyre located, what services theyre using, and track and
analyse trends.

Finally, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service allows


you to setup analytic funnels which track a
series of analytic events within a work flow
and how far your mobile users got through
the process.

The analytics capabilities dont just stop


there, as Oracle Mobile Cloud Service provides
mobile developers the ability to lodge custom
analytic events with specific information
around anything they need to capture.

For example, a shopping cart app typically has several steps


including putting items in the shopping cart, entering credit card
details, then pressing pay. With funnels you can judge how many
customers get through each stage, which gives you information
on potential pain points in your application or maybe where you
need to place some incentive for customers to continue.

Conclusion
Ultimately, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service is a unique product in that it acts both as a glue and oil between the mobile-savvy
development world and traditional enterprises. By providing integration and data transformation services between enterprise
systems and mobile apps, as well as giving a nod to traditional enterprise needs like lifecycles, multiple environments, analytics,
diagnostics and logging, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service essentially acts as the glue between the two parties so they can work
together. Yet in providing prebuilt, mobile-friendly RESTful APIs and services such as push notifications, flexible custom API
programming through the likes of Node.js, and providing native-optimised-mobile SDKs to mobile developers, Oracle Mobile
Cloud Service acts as a slick oil to ensure mobile developers can move at a pace theyre accustomed to even when working with
traditional enterprises. All with the goal of making your enterprise mobility development a success.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Chris Muir
Senior Principal Mobility and Development Tools Product Manager, Oracle
Chris Muir is an Oracle Senior Principal Product Manager, of the Oracle Mobile and Cloud
Development Tools customer enablement group. The group performs an outbound
product management role with a wide range of tasks focused on enabling customers
across the globe to be successful with Oracles mobile, cloud and web development
solutions.
Blog: blogs.oracle.com/onesizedoesntfitall

au.linkedin.com/in/chriscmuir

@chriscmuir

READ

WATCH

JOIN

cloud.oracle.com/mobile

youtube.com/user/OracleMobilePlatform

bit.ly/oramobcom

more about Oracle Mobile


Cloud Service

www.ukoug.org

Oracle Mobile Cloud Service


YouTube training

the Oracle Mobile Platform


Google+ community

11

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology

Oracles new Java Cloud Service enables


customers to run their Enterprise Java
applications entirely on Oracles IT infrastructure.
What does this mean for WebLogic and
middleware administrators? Read on for
answers to questions you might have

SPEAKER

Presenting at Tech15 on
9th December at 11:20

Java Cloud Service

Questions a WebLogic
Administrator Might Ask
Simon Haslam, Principal Consultant, Veriton

What is Java Cloud Service?

If youve not yet heard about Java Cloud


Service (JCS) this is Oracles WebLogic
Java EE application server and supporting
software, run from Oracles data centres,
with all hardware and software costs
bundled into a monthly subscription fee.
It is one of Oracles new products in its
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) portfolio.
JCS was first launched in autumn 2012
as Java-as-a-Service, but that particular
product has been re-badged as JCS
SaaS Extension which, as its name
suggests, is designed to make it easy

12

to create relatively small add-ons to


Oracle Cloud Applications (SaaS) but in a
tightly constrained environment; its not
discussed further in this article.
Over the last year weve seen the
introduction of JCS Virtual Image (JCS-VI)
and whats loosely called full JCS or JCS
PaaS. These two products offer the full
power of WebLogic with the control an
existing WebLogic Administrator is likely
to want. They are suitable for running
both custom enterprise applications and
commercial off-the-shelf products.

A JCS environment itself, known as an


instance, is a self-contained set of
virtual machines (VMs) running a single
WebLogic domain that can include
multiple managed servers, dedicated
Coherence servers and a load balancer.

How do I use JCS?

Well, firstly you need to create a JCS


instance. Figure 1 shows you almost all
you need to specify in the web console for
even the most complex JCS configuration.
Once you have created the JCS instance it

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Simon Haslam

Is there anything else for me to do


once Ive provisioned a JCS instance?
Yes, without doubt, there is! Whilst JCS
minimises the effort needed to create
and patch a Java EE platform, there are
often many more steps in deploying and
maintaining a typical application.

Your first task following JCS provisioning,


in almost all cases, will be to replace
the demonstration SSL certificates with
securely generated ones, especially
given that the JCS infrastructure is so
much closer to the internet than most
WebLogic systems running in your own
data centres. Then you will usually set up
the administrators, probably by hooking
into some form of identity provider. The
firewall rules, as configured in the Oracle
Compute Service, will need adjustment.
Now you may start to think about
deploying your applications, and maybe
choose to do that via Oracles Developer
Cloud Service. Finally, being the diligent
administrator that you are, you will want
to put in place monitoring and alerting
(via Enterprise Manager or some
other tool).

FIGURE 1

runs until you either stop it (which shuts


down the virtual machines but preserves
the contents of the disks) or delete it
(which permanently deletes everything,
except for backups in the case of full JCS).

Following provisioning,
which takes from around
40 minutes to an hour
or so depending on the
components chosen, you get
several new virtual machines
running pre-configured
Oracle software. In theory
you are then ready to deploy
Java applications.

FIGURE 2

www.ukoug.org

Figure 2 shows the provisioned


configuration. Note that all JCS instances
need a Database Cloud Service instance
too (for at least the Fusion Middleware
Infrastructure schemas), and full JCS
needs a Storage Cloud Service container
(for backup), but these are not shown in
the diagram.
Once running, a JCS instance (full
JCS or JCS-VI) can be accessed by the
usual web-based administration tools
(WebLogic console, Fusion Middleware
Control, Traffic Director console), or
else you can log directly into the virtual
machines themselves (with root privileges
if needed). This then allows you to run
commands such as WLST or set up
configuration management tools like
Chef or Ansible.

In addition to technical
operations, given that it
is very easy to create new
instances, someone within
your organisation needs to
monitor the billing side of all
your Oracle Cloud services to
make sure they are remaining
within budget.
How will JCS integrate with all the
other systems that I run?

Today we take it for granted that if


we need a corporate service, such as a
directory server like Microsoft Active
Directory, that it is available on either
the same network or one that is very
close by. In the cloud world, and this is not
specific to Oracle, servers may have
to communicate over relatively
convoluted network paths, with latencies
far higher than were used to, and more
reachability issues this is just something
we will have to cope with, and configure
retries, time-outs, and maybe caching
strategies, accordingly.
>>
13

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Simon Haslam

At the time of writing Oracle has no VPN


service (nothing comparable to Amazons
Virtual Private Cloud for example) which
means that JCS virtual machines cannot
talk directly to your existing systems
except via SSH tunnels (undesirable) or
port-to-port over the internet (almost
unworkable, even ignoring security, as
none of your internal systems will be
exposed directly). Apparently this will be
addressed by Oracle soon.
When thinking about how applications
will be integrated thats a little more
straightforward web service calls
between applications have become
ubiquitous and, whether via SOAP or REST,
are unlikely to be too tricky between data
centres connected over the internet (other
than the latency mentioned
above). Products such as Oracles
Managed File Transfer and Service Bus
give you options for handling more
traditional integration using file transfers
or messaging protocols.

How different is JCS from running


WebLogic at my own premises?

Clearly the architecture is slightly


different the servers are remote of
course, and arent located in a segmented
DMZ topology that you probably have in
your own data centre, although the Oracle
VMs do have firewalls between them.
The initial domain provisioning is different
too (as described earlier). With full JCS
you dont apply patches using OPatch,
but instead instruct JCS to update the
Oracle (or JDK) Homes in an automated
manner. Likewise full JCS has its own way
of backing up to both a local filesystem
and the Oracle Storage Cloud, but in
concept its still packaging up directories
and running RMAN backups comparable to
what you probably already do.

Other than this, if you


already run Oracle Linux or
Red Hat Enterprise Linux,
then working on JCS will be
almost identical to what
youre used to.

14

How does JCS fit in with Enterprise


Manager 12c?

This is a very good question. Firstly


the provisioning and management
mechanisms for Oracle Public Cloud
are completely different to Enterprise
Manager 12c Cloud Control (EM). Oracle
has recently introduced a gateway for EM
that allows you to monitor Oracle Cloud
instances in a similar manner to other
target types. The licensing position for
Enterprise Manager on JCS, as at Autumn
2015, seems unclear (unlike Database
Cloud Service which specifies which
packs are included with each service
level). However, EM integration with JCS
is an area that is evolving very quickly
so I think we will see clarification and
improvements later this year.

When should I choose Virtual Image


and when full JCS?

Various Oracle PaaS products come in


virtual image and full flavours but the
distinction between these service levels
is not always the same. In the case of
JCS, the full product adds cloud tooling
which provides automated backup/
restore, rolling patching and scaling.
Thesebackups can be synchronised with
DatabaseCloud instance backups. Scaling
can be by either changing the number
of managedservers, or by resizing each
VMscompute resources. This full JCS
tooling comes at a premium of between
38% and 100% (at the time of writing)
over the cost of JCS-VI, so you need to
consider this decision very carefully its
value to you will depend on what other
approaches you use currently.

Can I run Fusion Middleware on JCS?

JCS is just WebLogic 11g or 12c on Oracle


Linux x86-64 VMs so, yes, in theory you
can run any Fusion Middleware layered
product on it in fact installing SOA Suite
12c was one of the first things I tried with
JCS. Oracle has certified SOA 11g on JCS
and will support you if you wish to run
that version, but is not certifying SOA 12c
as you would be expected to use their
new SOA Cloud Service instead.
The JCS platform currently is missing a
few features you need for a real-world,
enterprise deployment too for example,
the VPN service as I mentioned earlier but

also shared storage, so you would need to


be creative in that respect.
Finally, it would probably not be financially
prudent to run products such as SOA
on JCS by bringing your own licences;
SOA needs WebLogic Suite so, unless you
had some spare SOA licences, you would
effectively be paying for WebLogic Suite
licence and support twice.

Whats the performance of JCS like?

My initial impressions of JCS performance


are favourable. The physical servers under
the VMs that I have been using over
the summer have Intel E5-2690v2 3.0
GHz processors, as used in Oracles X4-2
servers and engineered systems.

Ive not seen any obvious


evidence of CPU starvation
(i.e. steal time) and the
network tests that Ive done
between VMs suggest a
typical 10Gb Ethernet level
of performance.
Therefore, whilst its still too early to
comment on reliability and consistency
of service, JCS appears to perform
comparably to running your own modern
servers. Even though these JCS VMs may
have been on 2014 processors, lets face
it, in our own data centres it often takes
many months for a new server to reach
production anyway.
The way I see enterprise cloud services at
the moment is similar to the early days
of x86 virtualisation back then, prior
to processor enhancements, the primary
motivation for virtualisation were cost
savings from hardware consolidation,
rather than improved system
performance. The motivations for using
JCS are different but if you are looking for
maximum performance and predictability
I think, for the time being, you will still
need on-premises systems, such as
Exalogic or the Oracle Database Appliance
(which, despite its name, happily also
runs Fusion Middleware!).

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Simon Haslam

Are there any less tangible benefits


to using Oracle Cloud Services?

Yes, I think so. For example, most Oracle


customers, certainly in the mid-market,
are concerned about Oracle licence
reviews: they can present a significant
commercial risk if Oracle software
features have been used, perhaps
completely accidentally, but that havent
been paid for. Im no lawyer of course,
but common sense would suggest that it
will be more difficult for Oracle to pursue
you for additional licence fees if they have
allowed you to use forbidden software
features, given that they have full visibility
of your system. Of course only time will
tell how that works out, but not having
this particular Sword of Damocles
hanging over you must be a benefit!
A corollary to this is that the JCS
subscription model may signal a change
from the up-front pricing to something
far more flexible that can be scaled up,
and just as importantly, scaled down
when required this is usually impractical
given the contractual terms of Oracle
Support for on-premises software.

Another consequence of a
fully Oracle-provided platform
is having a single point of
support responsibility.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

From the experience Ive had of the


same concept with the Oracle Database
Appliance this doesnt necessarily mean
problems get fixed much more quickly,
but you dont have those difficult triage
situations with 3 or 4 vendors trying to
establish where the problem lies and
whose responsibility it is to fix it.

What will JCS mean for my daily job,


career prospects, mortgage, etc?

If youre primarily a middleware


administrator and another team handles
provisioning of the operating system and
below, using JCS may not be very different
to how you work today.
Firstly, think about what you do in your
daily work: the proportion of your time
you spend installing software, creating
domains and patching WebLogic will
depend on the degree of automation you
already have in place, and the volatility of
your environments, so the time savings
from JCS will vary. We all know that
applications change, that applications
break and that performance problems
arise in my opinion cloud will make
very little difference in this regard, but
what it should do is allow you to dedicate
more of your time to these businessvisible, high value tasks, rather than more
menial provisioning work.
Whilst Ive focussed on JCS here, the
wider architectural view also needs
to be considered including how other
PaaS/SaaS systems, and those running
on-premises, will co-exist with each
other something in which I expect
administrators, with their intimate

knowledge of existing systems, will be


able to play a vital role.

Changing the way our IT


infrastructure is provided also
brings new opportunities to
improve processes.
For example, as well as the web consoles,
all interaction with Oracle Public Cloud
can be carried out via REST APIs. This
allows for comprehensive automation,
improving both efficiency and build quality,
so I strongly encourage you to use this
opportunity to both develop your skills and
deliver more value to your organisations.
Finally, what no broad-market cloud
provider can do is be totally responsible
for your systems. Your organisation will
have a unique combination of business
departments, functional requirements
and software in use, as well as its own
rhythm peaks and troughs of activity
that depend on new initiatives and
perhaps cyclical demand: you are far
better placed than any cloud provider
to understand these factors and
respond accordingly.
In this article Ive only scratched the
surface of what Java Cloud Service offers.
Whilst it will affect some of the work
WebLogic administrators will do, it will
also allow us to focus on higher value
activities, so I think the futures bright!

Simon Haslam
Principal Consultant, Veriton
Simon is a consultant and Oracle ACE Director (Middleware & SOA) who helps mid-sized
organisations get the best value from their Oracle platforms. Hes a Fusion Middleware
enthusiast and, as of July 2015, an Oracle JCS Specialist, who spends a probably unhealthy
amount of time working with Oracle technology. Simon also invented O-box, a product
that provisions highly available and secure SOA environments onto Oracle Database
Appliance hardware - very quickly!
Blog: simonhaslam.co.uk

www.ukoug.org

uk.linkedin.com/in/simonhaslam

@simon_haslam

15

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Oracle ACE Program

SPEAKER

Presenting at Apps15 on
9th December at 13:10

Striking the Right Balance


Attend any UKOUG event and you will see the ACE logo against some of
the speaker names on the agenda.
In Issue 56 of Oracle Scene, Jennifer
Nicholson from the Oracle Technology
Network (OTN) - the biggest Oracle
community that exists and who runs
the ACE Program - explained what the
program is all about and in following
edition Oracle ACE Rene Antunez told us
about his journey to becoming an ACE;
which inspired me to share my experience.
The way I describe the ACE Program is
that its about finding a balance between
knowledge and sharing.
You might think being an ACE Director
is all about getting to travel to exotic
countries at Oracles expense, yet whilst
I have had wonderful opportunities to
visit places; it is about so much more than
this. Most OTN Tours are about taking
speakers to user groups which struggle to
get a wide range of speakers. So to me its
about the opportunity not only to share
my knowledge but also to learn what
Oracle means to different regions and
gain insight into their biggest challenges.
I feed this back into Oracle so they are
able to work at a local level to address it.
As an ACE Director you have the
opportunity to be involved at the very
early stages of new Oracle releases. Not
only have I worked with Oracle through
the development of Fusion Applications
but Ive been involved with future releases
of Cloud PaaS products, for example
the PaaS4SaaS proof of concept I did
earlier this year. I was also involved in the

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

16

what I do is delivered on Oracle Cloud.

ACE DIRECTOR

ACE

ACE ASSOCIATE

joint development of the Applications


User Experience Advocates program,
where ACE Directors of many technical
backgrounds learn more about the
applications and give valuable feedback
to Oracle as well as sharing their insight
with the community.
I recall one time when I was preparing to
speak about SOA suite in Australia and
Alex Gorbachev came into the session.
I was horrified; what could I teach him
about SOA? He told me I couldnt teach
him how to use it, but I could teach him
why which is my area of expertise, the
business reasons to use the technology.
Each year ACE Directors have two days of
briefings at Oracle HQ and an optional
third day for those of us with an interest
in Apps UX. These days are priceless.
Were under Non Disclosure Agreements
until announcements are made, however
Oracle sharing advance knowledge is
invaluable. Im unlikely to hear anything
about Apps I havent already heard
working with product development, yet
what I wont have heard about is all the
things coming in the wider technology
stack - which affects me since most of

OTN are always looking for the next ACE;


their role is to encourage community
which means being inclusive, not
elitist. An important part of being an
ACE Director is encouraging others,
who are doing great work in their own
communities, to step up to join the ACE
Program. Its important that people are
recognised for what theyre doing and
that there is room for upcoming ACEs
to be acknowledged by the Program. I
believe its our role as ACEs to identify
and encourage these people and this
year I shared stages with people that I,
along with many others, have encouraged
into the Program. These people are the
foundation of their communities and in
turn will encourage others.
OTN sponsors our UKOUG Speaker
Awards for this very reason. These awards
recognise our conference speakers that
delegates have given the best feedback
for. These people are the future of UKOUG
and inspire people to speak. Its just one
way we recognise great community input,
as is the ACE Program.
There are lots of people at different stages
of their community journeys that would
fit right into the ACE Program. There are
three levels you can enter the program at
so the opportunities are there for anyone
who wants to make the move. If you
want to know more, come and find me at
conference.

Debra Lilley
Debra Lilley, UKOUG Member Advocate
Debra Lilley, Board Member Advocate UKOUG and VP Certus Cloud Services Certus
Solutions. Debra has worked with Oracle Applications for more than 18 years.
Blog: debrasoracle.blogspot.co.uk

uk.linkedin.com/in/debralilley

@debralilley

www.ukoug.org

APEX & Database Development


SPEAKER

Presenting at Tech15 on
7th December at 11:20 &
9th December at 15:30

Mastering the
APEX Universal Theme
In the spring of this year the long awaited version 5.0 of Oracle Application
Express (APEX) was released. This version was not just another update, but
a major overhaul with two goals: increase developer productivity and create
better-looking applications on every device.
Roel Hartman, Director & Senior APEX Developer, APEX Consulting

Although APEX was already well known


for its speed of development, the
developer still needed to click around
quite a lot when making changes to his
application. Thats totally changed with
the appearance of the Page Designer.
In one view you can see all the details
of your page, a graphical representation
of what your page looks like and the
properties of the current selected item
(see figure 1). Just like in good old Oracle
Forms you can select multiple items at
once and make changes to common
attributes with just one click.
Next to Page Designer there are dozens
of other new features that makes APEX
one of the most productive, if not the
most productive, Oracle development
environments.
FIGURE 1: PAGE DESIGNER

The Issues With The Old Templates

The second goal of APEX 5.0 was to make it easier to create


good-looking applications on every device. In APEX, templates
define the look of an application. There are templates for every
type of building block, like pages, regions, buttons etc and a set
of templates is grouped into a theme. So youll get a uniform
look across your application when youve picked a theme. The
www.ukoug.org

downside is, you need a lot of templates for each and every
building block: one for a region with a border and one for a
region without a border; one for a report with a header and
one for a report without one. So you end up with an impressive
number of templates, and making general changes, e.g. a
change that applies to all region templates, is a lot of work. So
that should be made simpler.
>>
17

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

APEX & Database Development: Roel Hartman

Secondly, when you want to make changes to the look of your


application, like using a different colour on buttons, you need
to write CSS. While this is a very simple example, the required
CSS skills quickly outgrow the skills of a regular APEX developer.
So the challenge was, can we make CSS-like changes without
actually knowing CSS?
Finally, most themes are based upon HTML tables. These tables
are rather rigid and fixed by nature. So your application might
look good on a 1200 pixel wide screen, but on a smaller device
you need to scroll left and right and on a wider screen it just
looks odd. Therefore, in order to make your application adaptive
to different screen sizes, the templates need to be based on
HTML DIVs instead of tables.

As an example you can create a Template Option that shows an


item on a page in uppercase or lowercase. Therefore you have to
navigate to Shared Components > Themes > Universal Theme
> Global Template Options. Click on the button Edit Template
Options Groups and click Create on the next page. Then fill in
the popup screen as in figure 3.

FIGURE 3: TEMPLATE OPTION GROUP

FIGURE 4: TEMPLATE OPTION

Universal Theme

Next you have to add the Template Options itself. So click Add
Template Option. Pick the same Template Type as you used for
the Option Group, Field in this example, and select the group
you just created. Then enter a display name, this is what the user
of your Template Option, the developer, sees. Then define a CSS
class associated with this Option, e.g. Ukoug--Uppercase (see
figure 4). Do the same for a lowercase option.

Template Options

If you now navigate to an item on any page in APEX and click on


Template Options you can select the Case. If you switch it to
Uppercase as in figure 5.

The answer to the three issues mentioned above is 42. Every


theme in APEX has a name and number associated with it. The
new theme in APEX 5.0 is called Universal Theme and has, not
by accident, number 42. So what are exactly the solutions to the
aforementioned issues?

FIGURE 5: USING THE TEMPLATE OPTION

Running the page will add the CSS class you associated with the
option to an element on the page as you can see in figure 6.
FIGURE 2: TEMPLATE OPTIONS

Instead of creating a new template for every minor deviation


of the standard, the Universal Theme introduces Template
Options. Previously a developer had to look for a specific
template to get the look that fits his needs, now there is often
just one and all the deviations are controlled by setting Template
Options (see figure 2). So with just one click he can left or right
align all labels within a region or remove the borders around
a region. In the previous version of APEX this would probably
require multiple templates and some additional CSS styling.
The Universal Theme is shipped with a number of Templates and
Template Options. But you can also define your own! And you
will see that a Template Option is nothing more than just a class
thats added to an element on your page.

18

FIGURE 6: GENERATED HTML SHOWING THE CSS CLASS

Of course it doesnt do anything yet, you still have to define the


CSS that will present your data in uppercase. If you add
.Ukoug--Uppercase input { text-transform: uppercase }

to the inline CSS property of your page you should be able to


see it working. Of course you need to set that CSS styling rule in
your application level (or even theme level) css file, but thats an
exercise Ill leave to the reader.

www.ukoug.org

APEX & Database Development: Roel Hartman

Theme Roller and Theme


Styles

a Responsive Fluid Grid. A page is divided into a grid of 12


equal partitioned columns. You can use these columns can to
position a maximum of 12 regions. For instance you can position
Region 1 in column 1 to 5, Region 2 in column 6 to 10 then
Region 3 in column 11 and 12. Within these regions you again
have 12 columns at your disposal to position either items or sub
regions, and because the width of these columns are calculated
by percentages of the available width, your pages automatically
display fine on different screen sizes. See figure 8 for an example.

The default colour setting of


the Universal Theme comes
in three flavours or Theme
Styles: Vita (blue), Vita
Slate (grey) and Vista (similar
to the Alta-UI look of ADF).
But if your company colours
are different, how can you
change that look without a
deep dive into CSS?
Run your application from
the APEX Builder and you
will notice a developer
toolbar default at the
bottom of your page. On
the right side of that bar is a
Theme Roller option. Click
that and the Theme Roller
will make its appearance.
FIGURE 7: THEME ROLLER
You can now change the
colours of your application
and inspect the result on the fly. Although it is tempting to use
the Color Wheel, usually it is easier to set the colours one by one
in the Global Colors section.
Once you have achieved the desired result you can save the
new Theme Style. So even without any knowledge of CSS you
can make an application that adheres to the company colour
style sheet!

Responsive Fluid Grid

In previous versions of APEX you could create an application that


runs fine on different devices and different screen sizes. But you
needed a real CSS expert to accomplish that task.
But when using the Universal Theme in APEX 5 this feature
comes out of the box. This is implemented by something called

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

FIGURE 8: RESPONSIVE FLUID GRID

You can easily test that by reducing or enlarging the width of


your browser. You will notice your application adjusts smoothly,
almost fluid. To support devices with even smaller screen sizes,
media queries are implemented to make your application
responsive. All without knowing a lot about CSSS.

Summary
APEX 5 brings a lot of features that make life easier and work
more fun for a developer. Productivity and ease-of-use
are the words that describe this version best. Just get your
hands on the tool and experience it yourself.
If you want to know a lot more about the Universal Theme,
we will be running a one-day class on Thursday 10th
December in Birmingham following the annual UKOUG
conference. See http://apextraining.eu for more details.

Roel Hartman
Director & Senior APEX Developer, APEX Consulting
Roel Hartman carries over 25 years of Oracle experience of which around 10 years of APEX.
He is an independent consultant in The Netherlands and runs his own company APEX
Consulting. He is an Oracle ACE Director and a co-writer of three books, Expert Oracle
Application Express being the latest.
Blog: roelhartman.blogspot.com

www.ukoug.org

nl.linkedin.com/in/roelhartman

@RoelH

19

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

UKOUG

partneroftheyear
2015/16

P R E S E N T I N G Y O U R

2015/16 Winners
Huge congratulations to all of this
years UKOUG Partner of the Year Award
winners who were presented with
their awards at a ceremony on 15th
October. Look out for the winners at our
December conferences. If you would
like more information about the awards
visit www.ukoug.org/pya - the 2016/17
nominations will open in Spring 2016.

UKOUG CX Partner of the Year - Inc. CRM

Gold: BPI OnDemand


Silver
Bronze

Enigen UK
Atos

r
15 0 nso or
CH 6 o ns
TE and k Sp Spo
St tac on
At ti
C tra
RA gis
Re

UKOUG Business Analytics Partner of the Year

Gold: Rittman Mead


Silver
Bronze
20

Red Stack Tech


Prject (EU) Ltd

UKOUG Database Partner of the Year

Gold: Explorer
APPS15 Notebook Sponsor

Silver
Bronze

Red Stack Tech


dsp
www.ukoug.org

UKOUG: Partner of the Year Awards 2015/16

UKOUG Oracle E-Business Suite Partner of the Year

UKOUG Emerging (New Products) Partner of the Year

Gold: dsp
Silver
Bronze

Version 1
Hitachi Consulting

Gold: Succeed
APPS15 Stand: 58

UKOUG Engineered Systems Partner of the Year

Gold: Red Stack Tech

Rittman Mead
Accenture Enkitec Group

Silver
Bronze

UKOUG Hyperion Partner of the Year

Codec-dss
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Esteem
Inoapps

Gold: Konnagar Limited


APPS15 Stand: 63

Silver
Bronze

Madora Consulting
Infuse Consulting Ltd

Gold: ConfigSnapshot - Rookery Software


eBiz Answers Ltd
Succeed

www.ukoug.org

APPS15 Stand: 64

APPS15 Stand: 53

15 9
PS : 3
AP and
St

15 9
PS : 3
AP and
St

UKOUG Innovative (Product/Service) Partner of the Year

Silver
Bronze

TECH15 Stand: 61

UKOUG Independent Partner of the Year

Gold: AMOSCA
Silver
Bronze

Certus Solutions
Rittman Mead

UKOUG Hardware & Infrastructure Partner of the Year

Gold: Red Stack Tech


Silver
Bronze

Silver
Bronze

UKOUG ISV Partner of the Year

Gold: ConfigSnapshot - Rookery Software


Silver
Bronze

Succeed
Excel4apps

APPS15 Stand: 24

21

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

UKOUG: Partner of the Year Awards 2015/16

5
E1 14
JD nd:
a
St

UKOUG Managed Services (Outsourcing & Operations)


Partner of the Year

UKOUG JD Edwards Partner of the Year

Gold: Beoley Mill Software Limited (BMS)


Silver
Bronze

insightsoftware.com
Redfaire

APPS15 Stand: 46 & JDE15 Stand: 07


JDE15 Stand: 11

Gold: Estafet

Infomentum
Steltix UK Ltd

JDE15 Stand: 09

TECH15 Stand: 61

22

APPS15 Stand: 35

Silver
Bronze

Prject (EU) Ltd


Collabro

APPS15 Notebook Sponsor

UKOUG Training Partner of the Year

Gold: Succeed

eBiz Answers Ltd


Certus Solutions

Succeed
Evosys

Gold: Hitachi Consulting

UKOUG SME Partner of the Year

Silver
Bronze

Silver
Bronze

UKOUG Primavera & Oracle Projects Partner of the Year

Gold: Succeed

Cedar Consulting
Inoapps

dsp
Red Stack Tech

Gold: Certus Solutions

UKOUG PeopleSoft Partner of the Year

Silver
Bronze

Silver
Bronze

UKOUG Oracle Cloud Applications (inc. Fusion)


Partner of the Year

UKOUG Middleware Partner of the Year

Silver
Bronze

Gold: Cedar Consulting

Gold: Keyteach Limited


APPS15 Stand: 64

Silver
Bronze

Certus Solutions
Rittman Mead

www.ukoug.org

UKOUG Exclusive Member Offer*

Ukoug Furthers Member


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SPEAKER

Back to Basics | Series

Presenting at Tech15 on
7th December at 16:30

A series of articles focusing on an


introduction to Oracle-related topics
and themes

An Introduction to

Oracle Read
Consistency

It is vital, for any corporate data store, that when you access your data you know that what you
see is consistent and reliable. In this third article in a series giving an overview of how Oracle
works, Ill show you how Oracle ensures you see a point-in-time and consistent view of the
data, no matter what changes as your query runs. Finally, I will describe the very fast method
Oracle uses to find your data in the buffer cache.
Martin Widlake, Database Architect & Performance Specialist, ORA600
When you query a relational database, you want the data to be
accurate. Firstly, you want the data to be referentially correct.
That is, you want:
One and only one set of customer details for each customer
(we do not want two versions of the truth!);
Every order to link to a single customer, as it makes no sense
to have it any other way;
To be able to identify each customer and each order uniquely.
We use Primary key, Unique identifiers and Foreign keys
(amongst other things) to ensure these rules. There are lots of
articles and examples of this on the web and I am sure you all
understand the basic concepts of relational data. But we need
something else, we need to know that the data is consistent at a
point in time.
Let us consider an example. If we start running a report on all
orders received and their status at 13:00 exactly and that report
runs for 5 minutes, do we want to see an order that came in at
13:04? You might say yes, but think about it. Depending on
where the query has got to in the data set at 13:04 you may
or may not see that new record. If the SELECT statement was
just to show you the data as it finds it, the data you would
see would depend on how long that report ran for. Also, what if
someone had entered a new order at 12:59 but not committed
it - and in fact deleted it when they changed their mind at
13:01? You would not want to see that record at all.

24

What you want to see is the data as it is at


the very microsecond you start your query,
and only committed changes - no matter
how long your query runs for.
That is called a point-in-time view and it is vital to providing
a consistent and reliable view of the world. You do not want
that view shifting under your feet as more records come in and
others are changed. Having worked on a relational database that
did not implement a point-in-time model like Oracle does, I can
testify to how many problems it can create.
Before I describe how Oracle provides a point-in-time view, let
me quickly run over some key points from the previous articles.
See figure 1.
When you create, modify or delete a record in Oracle the change
is coordinated by your Oracle Server Process. The key thing to
be done is not the row being created or changed in the table
block in memory but actually the description of the change,
known as the change vector, being written to the redo logs. This
is done because the redo logs allow the change to be repeated
if there is a problem with the database; if it crashes or is shut
down suddenly. A COMMIT is completed when Oracle tells

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Technology: Martin Widlake

FIGURE 1: ORACLE ARCHITECTURE OVERVIEW

FIGURE 2: THE SCN AND UNDO TABLESPACE

your session that the change vector has been written to the
online redo logs on disc. So the redo log record is done first (1).
Then the change is done to the table block in memory (2). The
final step is for the block to be saved to the database files by the
DBWR process (3). It can take a while for (3) to occur a second
or three.

would be highly inefficient if Oracle waited until you committed


the transaction to make all the changes to the blocks in memory.
Oracle actually writes changes to the redo log and updates the
blocks in memory and might even flush them down to disc as
the update progresses.

The Order of Things - System Change Number (SCN)


Figure 1 (and the prior articles) miss out two key items.

The first is the System Change Number. You can think of this as
a clock with a very accurate time but it is in fact an incrementing
counter, held in the SGA. If this is a RAC database, the SCN is
the same and shared across all nodes in the RAC. Each time a
change is made to the database the SCN increments. A change
is any change at all to a database block in the database, including
internal changes to data dictionary objects. It is possible for the
same SCN to be used for several changes, e.g. for several records
inserted at the same time - but only if they are in the same
transaction. In this way, every database change gets an SCN
recorded with it. In figure 2 this is represented by the SCN clock.

The SCN is the key identifier of changes to


an Oracle database. It constantly increments
and is vital to such things as point-in-time
recovery and flashback database. It is also
critical to how Oracle shows you a consistent
set of data.
The second new item is the UNDO tablespace. This is a special
tablespace that is only used for internal purposes and one that
users cannot put any tables or indexes into. It still consists of
8K blocks, the same as a normal tablespace, but it holds the
information to undo changes to normal database blocks, to
tables and indexes.
Why is this UNDO information needed? One reason is that when
you change a lot of data in a table in one transaction (think an
update statement effecting hundreds or thousands of rows), it

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At the point the user commits the change, Oracle finalises the
data being written to the redo logs and confirms the commit.
But what if you cancel the changes? You issue a rollback, your
session terminates or, heaven above, the database crashes?
All those changes that have been done need to be undone.
That is where the UNDO tablespace comes in. Oracle can use
that data to unpick the unwanted changes. It is not the most
efficient process but that is because Oracle does not expect you
to rollback many changes. The whole process of writing and
controlling the changes you make to the database is designed to
make doing and committing the changes as fast as possible, not
undoing them.
To come back to our figure 2, when the Oracle Server Process
wants to update a block, be it for the table or an index it:
0. Gets the current SCN and uses it to mark the change.
1. Writes the change description for the table/index to the redo
log, including the SCN.
2. Writes the change description for the undo to the redo log,
including the SCN
3. Applies the change to the UNDO tablespace block, including
the SCN
4. Applies the change to the database block, including updating
the SCN on that block
I have labelled the getting of the SCN as 0 just to highlight
the point that it has to be done before all the other changes
(which may not be done in exactly the order I say, for example
both undo and block change can be written to the redo at the
same time) and the same SCN can be applied to more than one
change within a transaction.
As I said above, if the change is now rolled back, the undo
information is used to undo all the changes to the table and
index data. It is not a free activity, because it is designed to
be most efficient when you complete your changes. So if you
think that inserting a set of records to a table and then rolling
it back does not really do any work, please think again. In fact,

>>
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it is worse, as all the undo-driven changes to blocks are also


recorded in the Redo logs. They have to be so that the undo can
be repeated in the case of an instance or database recovery.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a while to undo all
those block changes. Therefore when you cancel a large update
or insert that has been taking a while to run, do not be surprised
when it takes a while to undo it.
So we have our changes being applied to the database, with
the description of the changes being written to the redo log in
order that they can be redone after a crash or database recovery
and the undo so an uncommitted change can be unpicked (or
undone after a crash if need be), all marked with a unique SN
or set of SCNs - we are protected. But this is not yet giving us a
point-in-time view. How does Oracle manage that?

The Time is Now: Point-In-Time View

See figure 3. Our Oracle Server Process is about to execute a


query against the database. One of the first things it does,
before the actual query starts running, is to grab the current
SCN (it does not increment it, it gets the current value). In our
case it is 45678 (it is usually a pretty large number, say 10 or
12 digits). This SCN is used for the whole duration of the SQL
statement. The server process now starts looking for the data in
the Buffer Cache (and if it is not found there, gets it from disc
see Issue 57 for details). For each block it visits, it checks the
SCN held against the block. This is the SCN when the block was
last changed.

This more recent block is copied and the


Oracle Server Process then looks up the
information for the latest change in the
UNDO tablespace and uses it to undo that
change to the copied block.
The SCN for this reconstructed block is now 45422, which is
before our query started. We can use it. The server process
works through the next couple of blocks and finds them both to
pre-date the query start SCN and so simply uses them (45607
& 45006). The next block, however, has an SCN of 45701, more
recent than our query start SCN. So again the block is copied
and the UNDO information for the latest change is used to roll
back the latest change. However, that still results in a block
with an SCN more recent than when our query started, so the
next change in the UNDO tablespace for that block is found
and applied. This does result in a block with an SCN prior to the
query start SCN.
{Just as an aside, Oracle is often not creating a version of the
block that really existed in the past - it is creating one that
shows the information you need to see in order to maintain a
correct point-in-time view. Part of the reason Oracle makes a
copy of the block and does not make an exact historical replica is
that the copied and modified block can be discarded as soon as
your query does not need it anymore the reconstructed block
does not need to go to disc and can be freed up immediately
should Oracle need space in the Buffer Cache.}
Thats it. Oracle works through all the blocks it needs to satisfy
its query and when one is found with a more recent SCN to that
when the query started, the changes in the UNDO tablespaces
are applied in reverse chronological order until the first version
of the block that pre-dates the query start is reconstructed.

This process of looking at the SCN of the


block and either using it immediately as it is
old enough or reconstructing it until it is old
enough is called a Consistent Get.
FIGURE 3: POINT-IN-TIME VIEW

The first block has an SCN of 45123. This is prior to our Querys
SCN of 45678 so the data in the block can be safely read. The
next block is examined and is found to again have an earlier
SCN, of 45007. However, the next block has an SCN of 45688,
compared to 45678 when our query started running. The block
has changed since our query started.

26

It is a term that seems to cause a lot of confusion as


people often think it means only blocks that have had to be
reconstructed with UNDO information; it does not. It means
block reads where the need to reconstruct it in order to
preserve a consistent view has been considered whether such
reconstruction was needed or not.

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Technology: Martin Widlake

The whole process of constructing this point-in-time consistent


view is greatly impacted by three factors:
How long the query runs for
How much change occurs to the blocks involved in the query
How large the UNDO tablepace is
When you see the ORA-01555: Snapshot too old error it means
that Oracle was no longer able to reconstruct the data as it
looked when your SQL statement started. The usual response
is to ask for an increase to the UNDO tablespace. The correct
response is probably to work out why the SQL statement is
taking so long to run!

How Oracle Finds a Block In Memory

I want to finish on a final thing. During this and the previous


two articles I have often said something bland like The Oracle
Server Process finds the block in the Buffer Cache. How? How
does it find the block? This has to be a fast process as it is
happening all the time. Does it use some sort of index? No, it
uses a hashing algorithm.
A hashing algorithm takes in an input - a number or string - and
produces a number. For a given input value it always gives the
same number. But if you input a very similar string, you will get
out a quite different number. The hashing algorithm is in effect
a bit of mathematics that generates the number and it can be
designed to give a value in a stated range, say 1 to 10 million.
Several very different input values to the hashing algorithm can
produce the same output, so it is not a unique value. The idea
is the input values are spread out randomly over the range of
allowed output numbers.

For the input value of AADBaAgABcDec we get the number


0821606. This number represents (as do all the others) one of
the positions in memory of a bucket of blocks. Each hash bucket
holds a small number of blocks, in our case three, and it is the
second one we are interested in. The server process basically
gets to the correct bucket and looks at the small number (about
0-5) of blocks in the bucket for the one it wants. If it is not found,
the Oracle server process knows the block is not in memory and
needs to go and get it from storage.
Calculating a hash is a very fast process, it takes just a little CPU
time. If the required block is fetched into memory from disc one
of the things that it does, of course, is register the block with
that bucket. {It should be noted that Ive hidden some detail
about latches controlling the buckets and that the blocks are
elsewhere and it is just the headers alone that are in the block
chain, but there is always another level of detail}
In summary:
Being able to show a consistent point-in-time view of only
committed data for the duration of a SQL statement is vital.
Oracle marks all blocks with the SCN of the last time it was
changed.
Using the current SCN at the start of a query, Oracle can
easily identify any blocks that have since changed and use the
UNDO tablespace to create a copy of the block that holds the
old data.
Oracle uses a hashing algorithm to quickly find blocks held in
memory.
In part 4 of this series of 3 (in homage to Douglas Adams) I will
give an overview of how the Oracle Optimizer works.

See figure 4. Here we are putting a string that represents the block
identifier into the hashing algorithm and getting a seven digit
number. Note how only the last character of the block identifier
changes but the resulting number is significantly different.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Martin Widlake
Database Architect & Performance Specialist, ORA600
An independent consultant specialising in Oracle database design,
performance and making systems work better. Martin has been
working with Oracle technology for half his life. Despite this he is
passionate about user groups, sharing knowledge and explaining
how Oracle works. He is a regular conference presenter both in the
UK and internationally. Martin is an Oracle ACE Director and a
member of the OakTable Network. His blog is part technical, part
management and part just musing on working in I.T. His real passion
is genetics. And cats.
FIGURE 4: FIND A BLOCK VIA HASHING, HASH BUCKETS AND
BLOCK CHAINS

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Blog: mwidlake.wordpress.com

uk.linkedin.com/pub/martin-widlake/2/7a2/8b/en

@MDWidlake

27

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SPEAKER

Presenting at Tech15 on
7th December at 11:20

Oracle Standard Edition Database

Something for
the Enterprise?
You may have
already heard that
Oracle Database
Standard Edition
will have a
dedicated track
at this years
UKOUG Tech15
Conference on the
7th of December in
Birmingham.
Ann Sjkvist,
Oracle Standard Edition
Database advocate

To my knowledge, this is the first time


that Standard Edition (often referred to
as SE) will have a place in the spotlight
at an Oracle User Group conference, and
I am really thrilled about this. Oracle
Database Standard Edition is a much
cheaper alternative to Enterprise Edition
(EE) but it can provide a solid and well
supported solution to all companies;
both small and large. Whether it is a
solution for you all depends on business
requirements. So first let us discuss what
Oracle Database Standard Edition is.

A Background to Standard Edition

Oracle Database Standard Edition (SE/


SE1/SE2) is exactly the same technology
as Oracle Enterprise Edition (EE) but
without some of the advanced features
and with some limitations on its use. I like
to think of it as like a Rolls-Royce Phantom
or Maserati Ghibli (or whatever luxury
car you prefer) without air-conditioning,
a navigation system, or front and side
cameras. This type of car is still a pleasure
to drive but we would need to lower the
windows to cool down, bring a map and
stick our head out of the window to
when parking.
Oracle SE has the same SQL capabilities,
the same optimizer engine, the same
referential integrity, basic RMAN features
of EE but it lacks features such as

28

Partitioning, Dataguard, Parallel Execution,


Virtual Private Database, advanced
security and the extra cost packs, such
as the tuning and diagnostics packs,
are not available full details are given
below. However, many of these features
might not be needed by a large number
of systems or there are alternatives. From
Oracle v10 to v12.1.0.1 (R1) SE allows use
of RAC and in fact, unlike with EE, it is
a free feature! You can create a physical
Oracle Standby either by creating your own
script that ships/apply the archive logs or
use 3rd party software that is available
on the market. The use of Dataguard
in SE/SE1/SE2 to manage your Physical
Standby database is not allowed. SE 12c
offers customers a container database
architecture, making it easier to plug into
the cloud.

SE1 is even cheaper but is


more limited in the hardware
it can run on (2 CPU sockets)
and there is no RAC capability.
The difference in licence cost can be
substantial. Looking at the September
1st 2015 Oracle Technology Global Price
List shows the following for processor

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Technology: Ann Sjkvist

licensing (NB this does not include support):


Standard Edition One
Standard Edition
Standard Edition 2
Enterprise Edition

$ 5,800
$17,500
$17,500
$47,500

On the 1st of September this year Oracle released the new


Oracle Database 12c Standard Edition 2 (SE2) version to replace
SE and SE1. With this release, Oracle has brought a new license
model to the Standard Edition Community.
Main changes in SE2 release:
With the 12.1.0.2 release SE and SE1 have been merged into
Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 (SE2). Note: Release
12.1.0.1 continues using old SE/SE1 concept.
SE2 database is available on servers supporting a maximum
of two sockets on all Oracle-supported operating systems,
including Windows, Linux, and Unix.
SE database (servers that have a maximum capacity of 4
sockets).
SE1 database (servers that have a maximum capacity of 2
sockets).
SE2 may use a maximum of 16 CPU threads at any time.
When used with RAC, each SE2 da-tabase may use a
maximum of 8 CPU threads per instance at any time.
The minimum number of NUP (named user) licences has
increased from 5 to10.
SE licensed customers can download the new SE2 without any
extra costs.
SE1 licensed customers can download the new SE2 for an
extra migration fee.
12.1.0.1 SE and SE1 customers will have 6 months of patching
support once SE2 12.1.0.2 is released with quarterly patches
still being available in Oct 2015 and Jan 2016.
This announcement of SE2 release from Oracle on 1st
September caused some buzz on Twitter, and here are some of
the comments:
Full database caching can be great for small databases on big
servers and is available in #se2
Ok, but what I was wondering was whether the host total
mattered? E.G. Intel purley may bring 56 cores for 2s!
You can also have as many instances as you want on the two
socket server. Go mad
Thanks for the clarification! :) Imagine a 56 core monster server
fully licensed for db se for $35k list
We didnt break anything just made sure it had a viable
future.
Oracle provides good information about SE2/SE/SE1 so please
check these documents:

MOS 2027072.1
Database Licensing
Database License Features & Options Information
Now let us look a little deeper into what Standard Edition can
and cannot bring.
SE functionality of interest and feature replacements:
When we have a SE2/SE1/SE database environment, we need to
think beyond the out-of-the-box solutions and can, with a
little more effort, work around some of the limits. Examples of
these are:
Partition Views to replace Partitioning. This was a technique
that we used back in Oracle 7.3 version and still works. If you
are interested in how-to-do-this please check my blog.
RMAN parallelism. When the application data model is well
designed and system is under-stood well, executing multiple
RMAN commands in succession through a Linux/Unix Pipe
might provide an acceptable solution.
Physical Standby database can be accomplished with 3rd
party applications.
Some people think that RAC is not available on the contrary,
it is and is free (unlike on EE).
From the release of 10gR2, the Oracle SE includes the Real
Applications Clusters option.
Oracle SE2 includes RAC (max of 2 one-socket servers).
Oracle Statspack is still available and works well on SE/SE1/
SE2, plus lots of free and purchasable 3rd party analyses/
monitoring tools are available.

Standard Edition vs Enterprise Edition

At the Harmony14 Conference in Finland, I gave my first


presentation about Oracle Database Standard Edition and
people asked me whats different in this edition compared
with the big brother Enterprise Edition? As I said before, it is
just like having a luxury car with some of the features like air
conditioning missing.
As an Oracle Certified Professional, I have learned how to drive
the Oracle SE database, and I have used the same core set of
basic skills as an EE DBA would use. But SE database also requires some extra skills, such as understanding the pitfalls and
Dos & Donts that a SE database unavoidably brings to the
table when administrating or using it.
I have also noticed that the importance of proactive
collaboration between DBA, customers, and Software R&D
departments in deepening all parties understanding about SE
restrictions in relation to supporting business requirements,
helping to provide a better and more solid solution.
A database administrator must understand the licence
agreement; which features and functions are available or not.
Also, in our amazing Oracle Community we have a great spirit
of knowledge sharing and by searching the internet we can find
all kind of solutions. However, a challenge is that most, if not all
of the results, are scripts or queries performed against an Oracle
>>

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EE database. For example this query will violate the licence


agreement in an SE database:
SELECT output FROM TABLE(dbms_workload_repository.awr_report_
text( v_dbid, v_Instance_number, v_curr_val, v_curr_val+v_snap_
delta))

EE Features not available in SE2/SE or SE1:


The following are some examples of some very nice features
that we cannot get out-of-the-box if we have an SE2/SE or SE1
database environment:

For those interested in the features/options to which I refer,


please start by using this link from Oracle.com (Standard vs
Enterprise).

Is SE Something for the Enterprise?

The SE Track at UKOUG Tech15

This is because the Diagnostic and Tuning pack is not available


for Oracle Database Standard Edition (and is in fact a licensable
option for Enterprise Edition - so it could violate the licence
agreement there too!).

The answer to this question is It depends. When business


requirements, software, security, performance, and legal
considerations do not necessitate the use of Enterprise
Edition features or options, my answer to the question is yes,
SE is something for the enterprise. Oracle SE is a very good
opportunity to provide robust functionality while limiting
licence costs, and provides complete upward compatibility,
protecting your investment as your usage requirements grow.
And if you encounter problems in Standard Edition, Oracle
Support will help just as they would with EE since it is fully
supported.

Data Guard
Real Application Security
Fine-Grained Auditing
Oracle Virtual Private Database
Build index online
Parallel Execution
Encryption (TDE, backup encryption, network encryption)
Replication
Compression
Performance (Diagnostic Pack and Tuning Pack)

As I already mentioned, the Standard Edition community will


have a track on the 7th of December, at the UKOUG Tech15
conference, with five presentations and an SE Round Table. So
why not come and listen and exchange your thoughts with us?
Oracle Standard Edition is Awesome!: Mr Tom Dale
Standard Edition Something for the Enterprise?:
Ms Ann Sjkvist
Silent but Deadly: SE Deserves Your Attention:
Mr Philippe Fierens
Max Protection Standby in Standard Edition RAC
Environment: Mr Eter Pani
SE DBAs Life a Bed of Roses?: Ms Ann Sjkvist
Oracle Standard Edition Round Table: Mr Joel Goodman
Take care, stay well and lets enjoy a great conference in
Birmingham see you there!

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Ann Sjkvist
Oracle Standard Edition Database advocate
Ann Sjkvist is an Oracle Standard Edition Database advocate and blogs about it. She was
born in Sweden and moved to Finland in 1985 where she learned the Finnish Language
and started her IT career. Ann has worked in many different roles within IT such as
analysis, system analysis, software test engineer, software test manager, customer care
support, project manager, integration specialist, and SaaS production man-ager. She is an
Oracle Certified DB Professional, and former COO. All these roles have helped to develop
her innovativeness, creativeness and curiosity into a solution finding mindset.
Blog: www.sejustloveit.com

30

fi.linkedin.com/in/annss

@annsjokvist

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Why Use Oracle


Enterprise Architecture?
Perhaps a less known aspect of Oracles offerings is its Enterprise Architecture
(EA) framework (Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework OEAF). In this article
Im going to draw out a number of benefits of Oracles framework and why you
might want to consider adopting it over other better known vendor/consultant/
integrator provided frameworks such as those provided by the likes of Capgemini or
just sticking with leading frameworks such as TOGAF.
Phil Wilkins, Enterprise Integration Architect, Specsavers
In looking at the benefits well see how OEAF relates to other
artefacts & processes available from Oracle, such as Unified
Method, reference architecture material (IT Solutions from
Oracle). With any EA initiative the question of tooling typical
comes up, so well address how OEAF addresses that dimension.

We also need to face into the challenge of the perception that


a vendor framework will always result in buying that vendors
solutions; and lets be honest regardless of the realities Oracle
has a reputation of being expensive.

FIGURE 1: ORACLE ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE FRAMEWORK (OEAF)

FIGURE 2: ORACLE ARCHITECTURE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

32

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Technology: Phil Wilkins

Starting with the question of whether the Oracle EA framework


just leads to Oracle sales. I was fortunate enough to have some
time discussing the EA framework strategy with a member of
the Oracle EMEA leadership. In part at least, the adoption of EA
by Oracle has occurred to take into account of Oracles historic
reputation of focusing on product not always on a solution (or at
least the customer might not appreciate the value the products
can offer). So the use of EA is becoming a mechanism through
which Oracle can work with customers (particularly those on
significant transformation programmes) to identify what needs
to change, the value of change and where the customer wants
to get to. In all these points, the focus is the customer and their
journey, not the vendor and whilst establishing these needs
there is no sign of product in any shape or form. As is the case
with any sensible vendor, they use the framework internally
as well.
You can see this in the Oracle Architecture Development Process
diagram (for those who are aware of TOGAF, this may look
familiar something well come back to). As the process shows
EA is being used to understand the business goals, what the
gap is between where things are and that objective along with
the business value. It is only the final stages of the process you
will start looking at overlaying your capabilities models (and
other representations of your future state) with Oracle product
capabilities. Even during this overlaying stage the emphasis
should be driven towards business value. Within the product
overlay process it is more than possible to actually overlay other
vendor products the only catch is that you will need to draw
out the value propositions and capabilities for those products
yourself, whereas Oracle has that detail for you.
Oracle does offer EA consulting as a service, but it is possible
to use without needing such a service. The key pieces of the EA
framework are already available, and I understand that there
will be more to become available. As with everything there is an
element of start-up cost, so lets consider those costs. Firstly,
Oracle dont offer training publically today there is only an
internal training capability this will become clearer shortly.
Secondly, and most interestingly Oracle have chosen not to
acquire or build tools to help with the EA framework instead
to keep the message clean of sales you can do all the work with
standard office tools as with all EA initiatives this is going to be
a case of the more tool support the less the manual graft to help
get the value from the artefacts. So Oracle will suggest tools to
you, if thats what you want. As the use of OEAF can be applied
in the presales activities it is of course possible for the artefacts
from process to be handed onto Oracle consulting resources if
such a step is chosen which should help make the transition far
slicker (in some respects providing a degree of organisational
memory for Oracle).
Now for the really big questions; Why no training? Why an
Oracle EA Framework? Well, thats because rather than try and
invent something from the ground up, Oracle have started with
TOGAF, which is a matured framework with great adoption. But,
and here is the first big win through adopting OEA, they have
undertaken Open Groups guidance of tailoring TOGAF to meet
specific goals. Oracles tailoring of TOGAF has been to produce a
stripped down lean framework that for many should deliver be
just enough EA perspective and just in time.
This means that if youre TOGAF trained the Oracle EA should
be obvious and understandable. The Oracle EA Framework
Development Process the Oracle EA equivalent to TOGAFs
www.ukoug.org

FIGURE 3: TOGAFs ADM

ADM is packed with provided templates (Open Group provides


plenty of templates as well, but theyre not wrapped up so much
with ADM).
So the training path is probably easiest to pursue TOGAF (lots on
this in my blog1), and then work with an Oracle Certified EA to
gain some mentored support through customisation.
Going back to the just enough and just in time points this is
the heart of one of the potential benefits of leveraging Oracles
EA resources. Adopting TOGAF requires the investment of time,
effort and ideally plenty of real experience to tailor it to your
organisational needs. Get that wrong and you are at risk of
creating a process that can be seen as lengthy, not producing
material that helps the organisation forward and difficult to
maintain. The EA processes therefore will benefit from being
battle hardened. If the Oracle approach looks like a pretty good
fit, then you have eliminated the customisation efforts and you
have a proven (battle hardened) framework. There is nothing to
prevent you from tweaking OEAF to meet any specific needs or
aesthetics, but too much tweaking and youre better off going
back to first principles.
With this understanding the next questions that come along
are likely to be so how does this fit with the IT Strategies
from Oracle (ITSO2) and Oracle Unified Methodology (OUM3).
Ive been studying the ITSO (see ITSO Mind Mapped4 for
example). The ITSO sits at the next tier down and provides the
technical design framework to determine how to establish the
technologies and maximise their value on the technical side, on
the lines of business side the ITSO is offering common business
patterns of technology use.
The relationship between OEAF and OUM is a little more complex,
you can work with one, or other, or both. The OUM does have a >>
33

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Phil Wilkins

reference back to OEAF in the Envision stage. But, if youve not yet
adopted OUM or even necessarily decided on Oracle products and
processes you can still leverage OEAF. Typically though, OUM is
used to help shape and drive the delivery phases rather than the
work to develop strategic thinking.
So having done a potted view of Oracle EA, how does it reflect in
our experiences? Getting TOGAF established has proven difficult
in so far as creating the breathing space to do the tailoring, and
then trying to get other parts of the organisation to go on the
journey without seeing value almost immediately has proven to
be enormously difficult. As a result weve picked up aspects of
TOGAF that have proven easy to work into the organisation and
applying existing processes and governance. The company has
taken an approach of investing in TOGAF training for its Architects
(along with the expectation to get their certification), from a
practical basis of providing something to standardise the practise
around, but also a factor that may help with recruitment.
But this approach hasnt yet yielded the benefits we would like
to see, which can support the organisations need for things

to be done quickly and with great agility; whilst still wanting


to be or remain being the market leader, innovative, very
entrepreneurial and yet remain very cost effective. But getting
the big dividends from TOGAF does require more of a committed
investment and long game thinking. So jump starting a stronger
EA approach by taking something off the shelf that is already
parred back should help us push the exploitation of EA forwards
faster. The fact we also happen to have a fairly significant Oracle
investment is an added bonus, and potentially an opportunity to
lean on a vendor to help drive adoption as well.
The bonus ball is that we are doing more and more with
System Integrators (SIs) that are also Oracle partners. All of
whom will have their own TOGAF skills and most will have
OEAF knowledge so we can share our resources with any of the
SIs and they can draw more understanding of business goals,
link their deliverables so that there is traceability back to the
originating business needs. At the same time you arent tied to
the SIs variant of TOGAF or custom methodology so there is
no cost in changing SI or using several SIs from
that perspective.

Summary
So, to summarise, the key values of Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework are:
TOGAF derived meaning youre building and exploiting the vast amount of effort into a proven architecture framework
Focus on quick value delivery which means you should see information that will define or give validity to strategies and not
seriously impacting change programme timelines
Using this framework isnt locking in Oracle products, if you have alternate products available or even want architectural
consistency in areas outside of an Oracle ecosystem. But if you want Oracle solutions, youre going to be guided the best answers
A means by which you can architecturally share vision with Oracle or its partners very easily, combined with the meta
material then in theory any TOGAF aware organisation can work with your models, which will promote solution thinking not
product thinking
Linked with other major Oracle design & delivery processes (OUM, ITSO).
The bottom line is that here is a framework that can help with Oracle, but need not be used in an Oracle environment that
allows the possibility of giving EA adoption some agility.
Some Helpful resources:
Oracle.coms Enterprise Architecture Home http://bit.ly/1LXHp1o
Whitepaper on OADP and position to TOGAF etc http://bit.ly/1H28Y1u

Short Whitepaper on OADP - http://bit.ly/1DOCcB1


When to call in an Oracle EA Oracle Blog post http://bit.ly/1VMVLEU
IT Strategies from Oracle - http://bit.ly/1fGTKsP

Id like to thank Mike Blackmore at Oracle to providing support from an Oracle perspective.
https://mp3muncher.wordpress.com/category/technology/togaf/
http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/entarch/itso-165161.html
http://www.oracle.com/us/products/consulting/resource-library/oracle-unified-method1-069271.pdf
4
https://mp3muncher.wordpress.com/category/technology/oracle/itso-oeaf/
1
2
3

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Phil Wilkins
Enterprise Integration Architect, Specsavers
Phil Wilkins has over 25 years experience in the IT industry having worked across many
different domains. Hes been working with Oracle technologies extensively for the last 4
years, during which he has become an active volunteer for UKOUG and advocate for the
user group within Specsavers. Phil has contributed his expertise and understanding to a
range of books as a technical reviewer during the book development phase and as a
reviewer for published books as well.
Blog: oracle.mp3monster.org

34

uk.linkedin.com/in/philwilkins

@mp3monster

www.ukoug.org

Technology

SPEAKER

Panel session at Tech15 on


7th December at 11:20
& presenting on
8th December at 15:30

Virtual Tuning
Virtual Tuning
The ideal for fixing performance problems, especially if youre using a 3rdparty product, is to find a way of making a difference without changing
the code and without fiddling with indexes or otherwise adding physical
overheads (like materialized views)
create table t1 (
to the application.
id
not null,
Jonathan Lewis, Freelance Consultant,
JL Computer Consultancy
Oracle has given us Stored Outlines, SQL Plan Baselines, SQL
Profiles, SQL Patches and (in 12c) SQL Plan Directives to help, but
theres a completely different technology thats been around for
several years that can solve many of the performance problems
caused by a bad choice of execution plan. Its the virtual
column which, particularly when it can be assisted by suitable
constraints, can bypass the problems of badly written SQL and
help the optimizer to create new access paths for existing code.

Sample Data

To demonstrate the concept Im going to create a table which


holds time-stamped data and then experiment with a query
for recent data. Unfortunately the query is going to have
some problems using the most suitable index because the code
applies a function to the indexed column. Figure 1 creates the
table and indexes:

www.ukoug.org

date_time
not null,
small_vc,
padding
)
nologging as
with generator as (
select rownum id
from dual
connect by level <= 1000
)
select

rownum id,
(trunc(sysdate) - 150) +

((rownum-1)/1440) date_time,
rpad(x,10,x)
small_vc,
rpad(x,100,x)
padding
from
generator, generator
where
rownum <= 1440 * 150
;

begin
dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(

ownname
=> user,

tabname
=>T1,

method_opt
=> for all columns size 1
);
end;
/
alter table t1 add constraint t1_pk primary key(id);
create index t1_i1 on t1(date_time);

>>
35

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Jonathan Lewis

The SQL is engineered to create 150 days worth of data at one


row per minute; and Ive created an index on the (date_time)
column to allow efficient access to narrow time-bands of data.
To keep the numbers constant as I modify and re-run the test
Ive got references to trunc(sysdate) in the data creation code
(and in the query) so that I can look for an easily recognisable
1,440 rows in cardinality estimates. Ignoring the slight lack of
realism, I want the application to deal with queries like the one
shown (with its execution plan) in figure 2:
select
count(small_vc)
from
t1
where
trunc(date_time) >= trunc(sysdate) - 1
;
-------------------------------------------------------| Id | Operation
| Name | Rows | Cost (%CPU)|
-------------------------------------------------------|
0 | SELECT STATEMENT
|
|
1 |
579 (14)|
|
1 | SORT AGGREGATE
|
|
1 |
|
|* 2 |
TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1
| 10800 |
579 (14)|
-------------------------------------------------------Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
--------------------------------------------------2 - filter(TRUNC(INTERNAL_FUNCTION(DATE_
TIME))>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)

Thanks to the trunc() applied to the date_time column the query


has disabled the optimizers ability to use the index, so the
execution plan uses a tablescan, which isnt going to scale as the
data continues growing. Not only is the plan undesirable, we can
see that the estimated cardinality is wrong Im expecting to get
1,440 rows, not 10,880. If youre wondering where the optimizer
got its number from, its the standard guess for function(column)
> constant which is 5% of the number of rows in the incoming
rowsource. Its not just the performance thats going to get worse
and worse as the data set grows larger and larger.

Next Steps

Depending on the degree of freedom we have and assuming


we cant rewrite the query there are a number of ways we
could start to address this problem. As a first step we might
consider changing the setting of the parameter optimizer_
dynamic_sampling from 2 (the default) to 3, the level at which
the optimizer will sample the data when it would otherwise be
using a fairly arbitrary guess. You could do this in a logon trigger
or at the system level. When I tested this approach with an
alter session command the shape of the execution plan didnt
change but, unfortunately, the predicted cardinality dropped to
101 in 11g and 82 in 12c! I havent tried to work out how Oracle
came to these specific numbers (though there are two obvious
guesses) but the problem happened because my interesting
data was clustered in a small number of blocks at the end of
the table and Oracle didnt find any of it until I increased the
sampling level to cover a large fraction of the table.
Of course setting the optimizer_dynamic_sampling to a nonstandard value at the system level is probably something you
wont be allowed to do anyway, and even using a logon trigger
to set it for the session might be unacceptable.
What you really need is a function-based index on (trunc(date_
time)) but, again, you may not be allowed to add an index to the
system, perhaps because of the extra workload it will introduce.
But if were thinking of the indexing is there any information we
36

can give the optimizer that might help it realise that the existing
index could be helpful? Heres a very simple thought: by definition
trunc(date_time) cant be greater than date_time so what
happens if we point out this obvious truism to the optimizer? Figure
3 shows how we can do that and the resulting execution plan:
alter table t1 add constraint t1_dates check(date_time >= trunc(date_time));
--------------------------------------------------------------------------| Id | Operation
| Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
0 | SELECT STATEMENT
|
|
1 |
19 |
33
(4)|
|
1 | SORT AGGREGATE
|
|
1 |
19 |
|
|
2 |
TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| T1
| 10800 |
200K|
33
(4)|
|* 3 |
INDEX RANGE SCAN
| T1_I1 | 1440 |
|
5
(0)|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
--------------------------------------------------3 - access(DATE_TIME>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)
filter(TRUNC(INTERNAL_FUNCTION(DATE_TIME))>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)

With that truism attached to the table Oracle suddenly realises


(using transitive closure to generate an extra predicate from
the constraint) that it can use the existing index. Unfortunately
theres a little oddity with the optimizer its not behaving
consistently with its cardinality calculations; it has managed to
use the correct access predicate to calculate the index cardinality,
but used the 5% guess when moving to the table. So we may get
the efficiency we want in this query but if this code was part of a
more complex query the cardinality error introduced here could
lead to the rest of the plan being inefficient.
Its important to note, by the way, that this trick of turning a
constraint into a predicate only works when the column is also
declared not null.

Virtual Columns

Having bypassed the option for creating another index, and


discarded the option for using dynamic sampling, weve found
that a clever strategy with a constraint can get Oracle to use
the index but with a very poor cardinality estimate. What
could we try next? How about using the function-based index
without the index? Lets create a virtual column that matches
our predicate. Figure 4 shows the method and the resulting
execution plan after gathering stats on the virtual column:
alter table t1
add date_only
generated always as (trunc(date_time))
virtual
;
begin

end;
/

dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
ownname
=> user,
tabname
=>T1,
method_opt
=>for columns date_only size 1
);

--------------------------------------------------------------------------| Id | Operation
| Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time
|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
0 | SELECT STATEMENT
|
|
1 |
19 |
579 (14)| 00:00:03 |
|
1 | SORT AGGREGATE
|
|
1 |
19 |
|
|
|* 2 |
TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1
| 1440 | 27360 |
579 (14)| 00:00:03 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
--------------------------------------------------2 - filter(T1.DATE_ONLY>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Jonathan Lewis

Weve got the right cardinality except were back to not


using the index. But, in the interests of testing carefully, I was
doing one test at a time; I had dropped the constraint from
the previous test before I created the virtual column clearly
I should think about bringing it back. (Notice, by the way,
that while my query has a predicate on trunc(date_time), the
execution plan is showing that the optimizer has transformed
the predicate into one that references the date_only column).

There is still one problem though notice how the index


cardinality and the total cost are both far too small for the
access to the 1,440 rows we know we need. Oracle has
generated a second predicate from our constraint and then used
it to generate some redundant arithmetic which means it has
applied an extra scaling factor to the index cardinality, the index
cost, and the table cost (the last because the table cost is derived
from the index clustering_factor).

Rather than adding a constraint that declares a truism about the


date_time column I have to create a constraint that relates the
date_only column to the date_time column. (Either constraint
should work in principle, but the optimizer isnt quite smart
enough (yet) to work through every permutation of messing
about with transitivity). Figure 5 shows the constraint creation,
and resulting execution plan.

So nothing is perfect. Without changing any code or any


parameter settings, or modifying or creating any indexes weve
managed to get the optimizer to use an indexed access path we
like with a correct table cardinality but the cost the optimizer
has given that path may make it choose that path in cases
where an alternative would be better.

alter table t1
add constraint t1_dates check (date_time >= date_only);
------------------------------------------------------------------| Id | Operation
| Name | Rows | Cost (%CPU)|
------------------------------------------------------------------| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT
|
|
1 |
6 (0)|
| 1 | SORT AGGREGATE
|
|
1 |
|
| 2 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| T1
| 1440 |
6 (0)|
|* 3 |
INDEX RANGE SCAN
| T1_I1 |
10 |
5 (0)|
------------------------------------------------------------------Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
--------------------------------------------------3 - access(DATE_TIME>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)
filter(T1.DATE_ONLY>=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!)-1)

So finally weve got there the cardinality estimate is correct


at 1,440 and the access path is the index we wanted and we
havent had to create an extra index or enable dynamic sampling
across the system or session. What weve got is a virtual column
and a constraint that is inevitably true at all times; in fact, if
we used this method on 12c we could even make that virtual
column invisible so there would be no risk of problems from
application code doing an insert or select without an explicit
column list.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Summary
If you have columns with not null constraints on them it is
worth remembering that the optimizer can play some clever
games turning other constraints on those columns into
predicates.
In particular you might be able to construct a constraint that
tells the optimizer how an index can be used for a predicate
that doesnt quite match the index definition. In some cases
you may find that the simplest strategy is to create a virtual
column that matches the target predicate and then use a
constraint to connect the indexes to the virtual columns
youve created.
There are still some anomalies in the way the optimizer
works with the extra predicates that get generated, so you
may need to experiment a little with the options: essentially
you have to worry about the access path, the cardinality,
and the cost and at present it looks as if manipulating
constraints may allow the optimizer to get two out of the
three looking reasonable, leaving you have to hope that the
third one is good enough to avoid problems.

Jonathan Lewis
Freelance Consultant, JL Computer Consultancy
Jonathans experience with Oracle goes back more than 25 years. He specialises in
physical database design, the strategic use of the Oracle database engine and solving
performance issues. Jonathan is the author of Oracle Core, Cost Based Oracle
Fundamentals and Practical Oracle 8i Designing Efficient Databases and has
contributed to three other books about Oracle. He is one of the best-known speakers
on the UK Oracle circuit, as well as being very popular on the international scene,
having worked or lectured in 50 different countries. Further details of his published
papers, presentations and tutorials can be found through his blog
Blog: jonathanlewis.wordpress.com

www.ukoug.org

uk.linkedin.com/pub/jonathan-lewis/2a/93a/340

@JLOracle

37

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology

Write less code


With more

Oracle 12c
new features

New versions of Oracle usually introduce revolutionary features, interesting


architectural changes and exciting (yet, sadly, separately licensed) new options, and
Oracle 12c is certainly such a version. This article, however, is not about that. It is
about the other kind of new features - the evolutionary ones - features that allow
us developers to write less than in previous versions in order to achieve the same
functionality; features that affect our day-to-day work and should be part of our
development toolkit.
Oren Nakdimon, Oracle Developer and Instructor, DB Oriented

Using features that allow writing less means more productivity


and efficiency. Shorter code is more readable and easier to
maintain. And when we write less, theres less chance to add
bugs (or is it just my wishful thinking?).
Rather than showing a feature and then giving examples, I chose
the other way around. Well start with concrete development
tasks, and for each task Ill suggest a pre-12c solution and a
solution that uses a new 12c feature (that allows us... to write
less, of course).
Since it is impossible to cover all the details and nuances of every
presented feature in the article, I wrote an addendum in the
form of a blog post series, with a post dedicated to each feature
(the link is at the end of the article).
All the examples in the article are based on this data model:

We have 3 tables: PEOPLE, PROJECTS, and a (very naive) join table


between them - PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS.

38

So lets start a day in the life of an Oracle 12c developer.


Task: fill the PEOPLE table with data from a text file
We have a comma-delimited text file - people.dat - where each
line contains the details of one person and the order of the fields
corresponds to the order of the columns in the PEOPLE table:

Oracle supports loading data from external files for decades.


There is the good old SQL*Loader utility and since Oracle 9i there
is also the ability to use External Tables. Both are very powerful,
but require quite a complex configuration even for very simple
files - either as a control file (for SQL*Loader) or as part of the
CREATE TABLE statement (for External Tables).
In Oracle 12c SQL*Loader can be executed in Express Mode. In
this mode no control file is needed and many defaults are used.
In our example we only need to specify the connect string and
the target table name:

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Oren Nakdimon

sqlldr user/pwd table=people

and our file is loaded, using the implicit configuration (the input
file name is the table name with the suffix .dat, it is located
in the current directory, its structure is identical to the tables
structure, the fields are terminated by commas, and many more
defaults). Many attributes of the default configuration may be
overridden using optional command line parameters.
Task: set a unique number to ASSIGNMENT_ID (implicitly) for
every new PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS record
Before 12c we could use a sequence and a BEFORE INSERT
trigger to achieve this. For example:
11g> create sequence project_assignments_seq;
11g> create trigger project_assignments_bir_tr
before insert on project_assignments for each row
begin
:new.assignment_id :=
project_assignments_seq.nextval;
end;

An Oracle sequence has always been an independent object and


it was the developers responsibility to associate its outcome
with a specific purpose (usually, assigning a unique value to a
table column).
In Oracle 12c a table column can be created as identity. As
a result, the column implicitly becomes mandatory, and a
sequence is automatically created and associated with the
table. Then (depending on exactly how the identity is defined)
the sequence is automatically used to produce values for the
identity column when new records are inserted.

11g> rename projects to all_projects;


11g> create view projects as
select * from all_projects where is_deleted=0;

By naming the view PROJECTS, just as the tables original name,


we make all the existing references to PROJECTS throughout
the applications see only active projects. Now we only need to
handle the rare cases where obsolete projects should be seen, by
using ALL_PROJECTS in the relevant SQL statements.
In Oracle 12c tables can be defined as ROW ARCHIVAL. As a
result, a hidden column - ORA_ARCHIVE_STATE - is implicitly
added to the table, holding an archiving (logical deletion)
state. The default value is 0, representing the Non-Archived
state and any other value means Archived. Based on a sessionlevel parameter, Archived rows are either visible or not.
In our case we can recreate the table like this:
12c> create table projects (
project_id integer not null
constraint projects_pk primary key,
project_name varchar2(100) not null,
status number(1) not null,
last_days_to_show_in_reports integer not null
)
ROW ARCHIVAL;

Now, in order to logically delete records we will update their


ORA_ARCHIVE_STATE column to 1 (or any other non-zero value).
By default, the following will return only the non-deleted
projects:
12c> select * from projects;

In our case we can simply recreate the table like this:


12c> create table project_assignments (
assignment_id integer GENERATED AS IDENTITY
constraint project_assignments_pk primary key,
person_id integer not null
constraint assignments_fk_people
references people,
project_id integer not null
constraint assignments_fk_projects
references projects
);

Task: delete obsolete projects, but keep their assignment history


We dont want to really delete obsolete PROJECTS records, as
we may have PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS records that reference
them (via a foreign key constraint). We just want to hide them,
or, as it is often called, logically delete them.
Before 12c we could add a column to the PROJECTS table IS_DELETED - which contains either 0 (representing an active
project) or 1 (an obsolete project):
11g> alter table projects add
is_deleted number(1) default 0 not null
check (is_deleted in (0,1));

Now, since we usually want to hide the obsolete projects, we can


rename the table to, say, ALL_PROJECTS, and create a view that
exposes only the active records:

www.ukoug.org

We can change the default behaviour in the session level. The


following will return all the projects, including the obsolete ones:
12c> alter session set ROW ARCHIVAL VISIBILITY = ALL;
12c> select p.*,
case ora_archive_state
when 0 then Active
else Deleted
end
from projects p;

To get back to the default behaviour we will issue the following


statement:
12c> alter session set ROW ARCHIVAL VISIBILITY = ACTIVE;

Task: add assignment period to PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS


PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS is too simplistic - it only says which
people are assigned to which projects, not when or for how long.
Now we want to add this missing information. Before 12c we
could add a pair of date columns to represent the active period
boundaries, e.g. PERIOD_START and PERIOD_END,
11g> alter table project_assignments add (
period_start date,
period_end
date
);

>>
39

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Oren Nakdimon

and add conditions based on the new columns to the relevant


SQL statements in the application.
In Oracle 12c a table can be defined with the PERIOD FOR clause,
to associate it with one or more valid time dimensions. Each
such dimension consists of a pair of date/time columns. These
columns can be created either explicitly or implicitly. As a result,
the data can become visible or invisible, based on statement- or
session-level definitions.
In our case we can simply add a period called ASSIGNMENT_
PERIOD to the table:
12c> alter table project_assignments
add PERIOD FOR assignment_period;

This statement added two hidden timestamp columns:


ASSIGNMENT_PERIOD_START and ASSIGNMENT_PERIOD_END,
which can (and should) be set explicitly when records of
PROJECT_ASSIGNMENTS are inserted and updated.
Statement-Level Control
The following query returns only assignments that are active
on 1/1/2015, i.e. records in which ASSIGNMENT_PERIOD_START
1/1/2015 < ASSIGNMENT_PERIOD_END (a NULL value in
ASSIGNMENT_PERIOD_START/END means unlimited):
12c> select person_id, project_id,
assignment_period_start, assignment_period_end
from
project_assignments as of period
for assignemnt_period date2015-01-01;

Session-Level Control
The call to dbms_flashback_archive.enable_at_valid_time
affects all the subsequent queries in the session; in this case
showing only assignments that are currently active:
12c> begin
dbms_flashback_archive.
enable_at_valid_time(CURRENT);
end;
/

select * from projects where ora_archive_state = 0;

so we may want to add an index on ORA_ARCHIVE_STATE to


optimise the query performance.
Task: write a query to get project assignments with pagination
Pagination is the ability to retrieve an ordered result set one
page at a time; for example, getting the first 20 records in
one query execution, getting the second page (records 21-40)
in another execution, or even jumping to page 9 and getting
records 161-180 in a third query execution. Before 12c, we can
implement pagination using inline views and the ROWNUM
pseudo column (or analytic functions like ROW_NUMBER), and
the result is quite cumbersome; for example:
11g> select project_id, person_id, assignment_id,
assignment_period_start, assignment_period_end
from (
select x.*, rownum row_num
from (
select project_id, person_id, assignment_id,
assignment_period_start,
assignment_period_end
from project_assignments
order by project_id, person_id) x
where rownum <= :page_size * :page_number)
where row_num > :page_size * (:page_number - 1);

In Oracle 12c this can be achieved using the new Row Limiting
clause, which can be added to the end of SELECT statements.
The size of the page is defined by either an absolute number
of records or a specific percent of records out of the complete
result set. You can define whether the page starts from the first
record of the original result set or from some offset. It can also
be defined how to treat ties (i.e. when several records with
the same value are on the borders of the page). So our query
becomes as simple as:
12c> select project_id, person_id, assignment_id,
assignment_period_start, assignment_period_end
from project_assignments
order by project_id,person_id
offset :page_size * (:page_number - 1) rows
fetch next :page_size rows only;

12c> select * from project_assignments;

There are two sides to every coin

Weve just seen two new features - In-Database Archiving


and Temporal Validity - that add hidden columns to tables
and hidden predicates to SQL statements. This is cool, but also
dangerous. When things are hidden, it is easy to forget them,
but we shouldnt. Take for example the statement
select * from projects;

when:
there are many records in the table
most of them are obsolete (i.e., their ORA_ARCHIVE_
STATE!=0)
ROW ARCHIVAL VISIBILITY = ACTIVE (the default behaviour)
We should remember that Oracle actually translates our
statement to

40

Task: write a procedure to update the status of multiple projects


We need to write a stored procedure that gets a collection
parameter of project updates, each one with PROJECT_ID,
UPDATE_TIME and STATUS, and updates the PROJECTS table with
the latest status of each project.
Lets start with the API. A nice solution would be to define the
procedure and the necessary types in one package, like this:
> create or replace package projects_dl as
type proj_update_t is record(
project_id projects.project_id%type,
update_time date,
status
projects.status%type);
type proj_update_tt is table of proj_update_t;
procedure update_status(
i_proj_update_list in proj_update_tt
);
end projects_dl;

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Oren Nakdimon

And now to the implementation: we can do it procedurally,


but since we have a collection as the basis for the data update,
and since we need to do some manipulation on the content
of this collection, and since a collection reminds me of a table
(well, many things remind me of tables, but Im sure collections
remind you of tables too), the best solution in my opinion is
doing it in a single SQL statement, using the TABLE expression to
un-nest the collection:

Task: write a query that shows all the people with a valid date in
their GENERAL_INFO column
We can write a small function - is_date - that gets a string input
and checks whether it represents a valid date or not, and then
we can call the function from the SELECT statement:
select * from people where is_date(general_info) = 1;

The big question is where to locate the function? Before 12c we


had only one choice: creating is_date as a stored function (either
in a package or standalone), whose scope is the entire schema.
But if is_date is used only in the context of this query, storing it
and exposing it to the entire schema is quite inappropriate.

> create or replace package body projects_dl as


procedure update_status(
i_proj_update_list in proj_update_tt) is
begin
merge into projects p
using ( select project_id,
max(status) keep(dense_rank last
order by update_time) latest_status
from table(i_proj_update_list)
group by project_id ) i
on (p.project_id = i.project_id)
when matched then
update set p.status=i.latest_status;
end update_status;
end projects_dl;

This solution works nicely in Oracle 12c, but not in earlier


versions. In 12c it is possible to select from package-level
collection types. If we try to compile this package in 11g it will
fail with the following error:
PL/SQL: SQL Statement ignored
ORA-22905: cannot access rows from a non-nested table item
PLS-00642: local collection types not allowed
in SQL statements

To achieve the same functionality in 11g we had to create the


proj_update_t and proj_update_tt types in the schema level,
rather than in the projects_dl package, although they are used
only in the scope of this package.

Oracle 12c offers a better option. The WITH clause can now
include not only subquery factoring but also PL/SQL declarations
of functions that can be used in the query (and procedures that
can be used in those functions). This allows for embedding
ad-hoc functions, that are relevant only for a specific SQL
statement, in the statement itself. In our case:
12c> with
function is_date(i_info in varchar2) return number
as
l_date date;
begin
if i_info is null then
return 0;
else
l_date := to_date(i_info, dd/mm/yyyy);
return 1;
end if;
exception
when others then
return 0;
end is_date;
select p.*
from people p
where is_date(p.general_info) = 1;

Conclusion
Weve seen several features that were added in Oracle 12c and can make our life as developers easier:
- With SQL*Loader Express Mode we can write less configuration
- With Identity Columns, In-Database Archiving and Temporal Validity we can write less application code
- With Row Limiting we can write less code in SQL statements
- With Package-Level Collection Type Un-nesting and PL/SQL in the WITH Clause we can write less inappropriately located code
These are only few of the new features that allow us to write less. Others include LATERAL Inline Views, Pattern Matching,
Extended Strings, the ON NULL Clause, Multiple Partitions in a Single DDL, and more.
To learn more about the features introduced in this article you are welcome to read the Write Less with More series of posts on
my blog: www.db-oriented.com/category/writelesswithmore

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Oren Nakdimon
Oracle Developer and Instructor, DB Oriented
Oren Nakdimon is an Oracle ACE Associate with more than 20 years experience with
Oracle-based systems, as a developer, DBA, manager and instructor. Oren gained lots of
knowledge about databases in general, and Oracle in particular, and likes sharing it. He
believes in good collaboration between developers and DBAs and tries to bridge the
traditional gaps between these two worlds.
Blog: db-oriented.com

www.ukoug.org

linkedin.com/in/orennakdimon

@DBoriented

41

The day in the life of our CEO


Certus CEO, Mark Sweeny was recently interviewed and this is
what he said
What made you start Certus?
I spent many years as a Project Manager
undertaking central government turn around
projects. I felt that I could build a company that
could enable organisations to transform their
businesses through Oracle technology.
I met Tim Warner, COO of Certus, working on the
same project in 2005. It was then during many
long days and nights, that Tim and I started to
talk about the next big thing.
In 2011, we saw the advent of the Cloud and the
future direction the industry was taking. We
could see that there was going to be paradigm
shift that would positively disrupt not only the
industry, but also the Oracle Partner Network as
the approach to implementation had to change.

We knew that we could achieve first


mover advantages by building a new and
different kind of business that had not
been seen before and also for the most
common reason people Climb Mountains
simply because its there and we could
and its fun.

Why Certus Solutions as the company name?


Certus in Latin means is certain; trust; reliable;
resolved, determined; these reflect our values as
a company. Solutions is an acknowledgement
that that there is always more than one way to
address an organisations challenge.
Why do you focus on Cloud?
In our opinion, cloud is very much the present and
the future. You wont see many new on-premise
deals if any at all! As our industry started to
experience this paradigm shift, we wanted to
be at the forefront and become the recognised
leader and trusted advisor in this field. We also
saw that the cloud would enable Oracle to
move into the new marketspaces and become
attractive to companies that previously would
never have considered Oracle as a viable solution.
Cloud provides access to innovation and greater
consumer choice at a lower price point than
on premise solutions. My passion is working
with disruptive technology to have a positive
transformational effect on a business and Oracle
Cloud does just this.

Why is there a need for Business Support when


Oracle gives you product support?
A customers investment in Oracle ERP & HCM
Cloud needs to be protected. Therefore a need
clearly exists to supply ongoing knowledge. Take
What is your role?
I provide the vision and strategic direction for the the R9-R10 upgrade for instance, which introduces
company, whilst being actively involved in helping new innovation in many areas, but does need
decisions to be made by you; who is best to advise
our prospects, customers in describing their
an existing customer on how to approach the
journey into the Oracle Cloud and how we will
upgrade than the partner who understands not
look after them not just in the implementation,
only the changes but the implications.
but over the life of the contract through our
engage Business Support Services offering. Our
approach to business development has always
been to understand and to paint and frame
Certus works closely with Oracle
that picture of our customers journey and what
development and we assist in early
they will experience. I also enjoy getting my
adopter beta testing.
hands dirty in ensuring that all our customer
engagements are successful and from a project
management and governance perspective.
42

Mark Sweeny

In doing so, we provide our customers a value


add service moving forward as we intrinsically
understand how the latest cloud innovations can
be implemented into our customers existing
configuration.

We take away any worry a customer may


have in regards to future upgrades thereby
protecting their investment.
Also, if we did not do the original implementation,
we have the expertise to on-board you onto the
service and look after you moving forward.
Check out my blog at:
http://marksweeny.blogspot.co.uk
www.ukoug.org

Protecting your Oracle ERP, HCM &


Taleo Cloud Investment
Oracle HCM has a very flexible absence system
which you configure to match the policies for your
organisation. In many organisations, especially ones
that have been around for a while, HR written policy
on absence may not be what actually happens in
practice, and there is nothing more controversial
than challenging existing practices on holiday (well
perhaps payroll issues).
Our more common call is in understanding how the
established practices can be added to the configuration,
and working with the organisation to determine if it is
system wide or restricted to those who have it.

Its quite surprising how many times we hear the


same story across our customers. They provide
the absence policies but then reel off a number
of caveats like we only apply that rule if and it
doesnt apply to, which any consultant will tell you,
is impossible to ask a computer program to make
a judgement on something so subjective. Oracle
Cloud HCM has many features that can be
leveraged to ensure users are guided through the
process with the appropriate rules applied for
them, but it also provides features that allow
variations in the flow depending on other situations
or events.

engage Business Support ensures that your Oracle Cloud services are supported by
an expert team for less cost than an in-house support function. We proactively guide
customers through the Cloud update process and manage all interactions with Oracle
on their behalf, leaving customers to focus on their core business. We will support you
through those next steps you take.

Certus support consultants have deep HR


knowledge and considerable experience of common
HR practices, which differentiates what we do from
our competitors. Anyone with the right training
can build an absence plan based on a policy, but
you need HR business experience to ask the right
questions in order to make the solution flexible
enough to work in the real world.
Paul Burchell,
engage Business Support
Manager

2015
2016

To learn more about our


BRONZE WINNER
engage business support
offering http://tinyurl.
Paul Burchell
com/q5gl8hc
PA R T N E R

OF THE

Y E A R AWA R D

PA R T N E R

OF THE

Y E A R AWA R D

2015
2016

SILVER WINNER

STOP PRESS

Certus wins Gold for the second time running at UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards.
Press Release http://tinyurl.com/qhouage

2015
2016
PA R T N E R

OF THE

Y E A R AWA R D

GOLD WINNER

Certus at Oracle OpenWorld


Certus were at the recent Oracle Open World in force, our CEO Mark Sweeny was accompanying one
of our customers, Richard Summerfield from JT Global.
Richard Summerfield joined Oracle on a Press
Round Table hosted by Loic Le Guisquet, president
of Oracle EMEA and Asia Pacific, talking about Cloud
Applications and our own Richard Atkins joined
Goldman Sachs talking on Oracles Cloud Strategy.
The two Richards presented on the JT Global
journey to HCM Cloud and what it meant to JT
Global business. Tim Warner, COO at Certus spoke
on 10 Ways to Enhance Your Oracle HCM Cloud
Applications and Debra Lilley, EVP Certus Cloud

www.ukoug.org

Services spoke on PaaS4SaaS\Upgrading to Cloud


Applications.
Tim and Debra are part of the Oracle ACE Program
and had participation with OTN at OOW. Outside
of the speaking we held many meetings with
Oracle Development and those responsible for
Midsize customers, and with the User Experience
Team we believe are central to the success of Cloud
Applications; underlining and developing our
relationship with Oracle. A very busy week.

43

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology

Oracle Tears Down the


Final Barriers to Cloud
Adoption
Finding Your Perfect Path to the Cloud
The Cloud. Weve
all been talking
about its costsaving, flexibilityboosting, and
agility-enhancing
capabilities for years.
44

Its had a huge effect on just about every


area of enterprise IT, and its completely
transformed the way organisations
acquire, manage, and deliver the software
they need.
But the shift to Cloud hasnt come
without challenges. While acquiring netnew apps may be easier than ever, moving
from existing on-premise apps to cloud
versions of the same core systems hasnt
always proven to be a simple decision.

Joyce Boland,
VP Applications
Marketing, Oracle

For IT teams, migrating from legacy apps


to next-generation cloud apps has been
at the top of their agenda for a while
now. But, thanks to the perceived levels of
integration work involved in these often
complex migration plans and concern over
lock-in to on-premise solutions, many still
havent been able to bring the full benefits
of cloud into their organisation.
Thats why we designed the Oracle
Customer 2 Cloud programa simple and
cost-efficient way for Oracle customers to
move from on-premise apps to the cloud.

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Joyce Boland

In this article well explore Oracles


Customer 2 Cloud program in more
detailexamining exactly how it can
help organisations move faster from
on-premise Oracle Applications to Oracle
Cloud Services.

What is Oracle Customer 2 Cloud?

At Oracle, weve been passionate about


the cloud and the advantages it can
deliver to businesses for many years
now. Weve seen countless customers
transform IT experiences, increase
business agility and cut costs by
migrating to the cloud. But we dont
think organisations should face obstacles
to gain those benefitswe think they
should be readily accessible to everyone.
With that in mind, we set about finding a
new way to remove the barriers to cloud
adoptionmaking it a very real option
for any organisation currently using
on-premise Oracle Applications with an
Oracle support contract.

Customer 2 Cloud enables


Oracle customers to
quickly and easily convert
on-premise applications
to Oracle Cloud Services,
accelerating their pace
of innovation and taking
advantage of rapid
implementation services and
packaged cloud integrations
Juan Jones, Senior Vice President of
Customer Support Services, Global Sales

Who is eligible for Customer 2 Cloud?


The program is open to all Oracle
customers of ERP, SCM, EPM, HCM and
CRM solutions from Oracles Siebel,
PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Oracle
E-Business Suite product lines, who have
a current support contract for these
applications with Oracle.

Under the Customer 2 Cloud


program, organisations
can redirect unused or
unwanted support fees for
those applications towards
an investment in Oracle
Cloud Services from the same
product family simply and
seamlessly.
And to help to ensure an ultra-smooth
migration, Oracle offers Cloud Express
rapid startup services, as well as packaged
cloud integrations between Oracle
Cloud Services and popular third-party
applications.
No need to wait for your current support
contract to finish
Oracle Customer 2 Cloud enables you to
shift unused support fees into budget for
innovative and flexible new cloud services.
If youre ready for the power, flexibility,
and unparalleled integration capabilities
of cloud services, but feel under pressure
to delay the move until your current
support contract is finished, Customer 2
Cloud makes the transition to the cloud a
viable option today.

Flexible finance models


Faster implementation services
Packaged integration services

At Oracle weve embraced the cloud, and


we want our customers to be right there
with us. If youve invested in ongoing
support for your Oracle on-premise
solutions, we dont want that to be a
barrier to you moving to the cloud as soon
as you can. In fact, we want to turn it into
a major catalyst to help you make the
move sooner.

Put simply, were taking away all of the


challenges associated with moving to the
cloud and getting the most out of best-inclass cloud applications.

Weve seen hundreds of organisations


jump at the opportunity to engage with
the program and redirect their support
spend to new cloud investments. And,

The Oracle Customer 2 Cloud program


eases the path to the cloud by offering:

were working with more and more


each day to demonstrate the power of
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and show
them why now is the ideal time to shift
on-premise apps into the cloud.

A Brief Introduction to SaaS and


the Cloud

The cloud conversation has become


unavoidable, but chances are that you
probably still have some questions that
need answering. How can SaaS help me
innovate faster? What advantages does
SaaS offer over on-premise applications?
What questions should I be asking
potential SaaS providers?
To help business managers that are new
to the cloud answer those questions
and to facilitate the discussion between
IT and business leaders, Oracle recently
worked with Wiley publishers on an
eBook entitled SaaS for Dummies. Its a
helpful tool for people of all levels of cloud
experience and there are a few key points
of information that organisations eligible
for Oracle Customer 2 Cloud support may
find useful.
You can access the eBook and other
assets here: www.oracle.com/goto/
Customer2Cloud
What does the cloud do that on-premise
doesnt?
The key to the success of the cloud
is flexibility. You can customise apps,
deploy new ones, and typically get up
and running much faster than with onpremise solutions.

Employees and teams can


connect to these new apps
in the ways that best suit
them, making the cloud an
ideal platform for modern
working patterns and device
preferences.

>>
www.ukoug.org

45

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Technology: Joyce Boland

Top 5 reasons to consider a move to


the cloud
#1: The cloud delivers the apps you
already love using, but makes them
easier to update, manage, and scale
alongside your demands
#2: You can access a greater number
of powerful enterprise applications
without worrying about upfront
investment or how youre going to
provision them on-premise
#3: Improved app interconnectivity
means your business-critical apps can
share more information than ever before
#4: Analytics dashboards help you
understand more about whats going
on across your application environment
#5: High upfront costs are replaced by
predictable operating expense (OPEX)
costs spread across the Cloud Service
lifecycle

The great IT finance shift

That final point about finance is one


of the biggest of all. The shift away
from upfront capital expense (CAPEX)
purchasing to OPEX-based, subscriptionstyle payment models has been a
major trend in both the enterprise and
consumer space for a number of years
now, and thats largely been driven by the
emergence of powerful cloud services.

The way cloud services are


paid for just makes sense to a
lot of todays businesses.
When the pace of change is so fast, do
you really want to lock into a new service
that might not be the ideal fit for your
organisation in a couple of years time?
Moving to an OPEX model removes that
doubt from IT teams minds and replaces
it with a model thats as flexible as they
want to be.
The entry costs can be lower too,
especially when it eliminates the need to
buy and provision new on-site hardware.
Purchasing decisions are so much easier
because considerations like those simply
dont apply in the cloud. You just pick your

solution, talk to your provider and you can


be ready to go in hours and days instead
of weeks and months.
However, there is still one major financial
hurdle remaining. Because many
organisations are tied into 3 or 5-year
support contracts for their on-premise
apps, moving to the cloud versions now
will require them to essentially pay for two
licenses at once. This isnt financially viable,
and its a situation that we think businesses
shouldnt have to face. By releasing
organisations from their support contracts
and turning any unused spend into cloud
budget, the Oracle Customer 2 Cloud
program eliminates this issue altogether.

Building your business case for cloud

So could the Oracle Customer 2 Cloud


program be right for you? Here are a few
questions you can ask yourself and the
rest of your organisation to see if youre a
good fit and start building a business case
for powerful new cloud applications:
1) What could your business achieve by
becoming more agile?
Increasing agility is a major goal for many
modern businesses. Competitive, market,
and technological changes have conspired
to create an environment thats never
standing still, and to keep up, businesses
need solutions that are as fast and flexible
as they are.
The cloud is helping businesses achieve
their agility goals by making powerful
applications, services, and tools faster and
easier to deploy, customise, and provision
than ever before giving businesses the
ability to react to changing conditions
and emerging opportunities as quickly
as possible.
2) Is your Oracle Applications support
budget being put to full use?
When you purchased your Oracle onpremise solutions, you very likely also
took out a support contract with Oracle.
But if your business needs or usage levels
have changed since then, you may find
that some of that support spend is now
unnecessary. With the Oracle Customer 2
Cloud program you can convert those fees
into budget for new Oracle Cloud Services.

3) Are you hoping to deploy new


enterprise apps in the near future?
If you want to deploy new applications in
any areas of your business, but lack the
budget to invest in them, the Customer 2
Cloud program offers a solution. You can
free up budget from your Oracle support
contract to reinvest in new cloud services,
with minimal additional budget required.
4) Are you spending too much simply
keeping the lights on?
Cloud vs. on-premise is often presented
as a battle of CAPEX vs OPEX, but its easy
to forget that on-premise technology also
carries a significant OPEX cost. If keeping
on-premise apps up and running is
constantly eating into your IT budget and
siphoning funds away from important
growth and innovation projects, moving
to the cloud is a great way to take control
of costs once and for all.

Oracle Customer 2 Cloud in action

So what might your organisations


engagement with Oracle Customer 2
Cloud look like? Heres a quick illustration
of a typical customers experience:
A few years ago, Company X purchased
Oracle Siebel CRM to help boost sales and
build stronger customer relationships.
Alongside the licenses, the company
signed up for a five-year support contract
to ensure that if anything went wrong,
or if anything needed to change, there
would always be expert help on tap.
Over the years, the companys needs
changed. Siebel was helping them achieve
their goals, but as the cloud became a
more appealing prospect, and as Oracle
added more functionality to its powerful
Sales Cloud suite, a shift to the cloud
looked more and more appealing.
Unfortunately, the CFO would not release
budget for new cloud apps while the
support contract for Siebel was still current.
But when the company heard about the
Customer 2 Cloud program, they realised
they could shift 250k in remaining support
spend for their on-premise solution and
convert it into budget for a subscription to
Oracle Sales Cloud.

Conclusion
The cloud is not a new concept. At Oracle weve spent years evangelising its capabilities and investing in the development of an
exceptional portfolio of cloud solutions. Weve broken down every barrier to adoption from addressing security concerns to
helping organisations plot a simple and manageable migration path.
Oracle Customer 2 Cloud is our solution to one of the final remaining barriers: the feeling that a move to the cloud can

46

www.ukoug.org

Technology: Joyce Boland

only come at the end of a support period for on-premise apps. By giving organisations that have invested in our on-premise
applications the chance to turn their support spend into an investment in innovative cloud apps, were creating a great
opportunity to move to the cloud today.
For some organisations this may be enough to get them talking seriously about the cloud for the first time. For others it will
be the final motivator they need to finally make the leap. But for every eligible company, its an opportunity that merits serious
consideration.
If youre interested in finding out more about Oracle Customer 2 Cloud, Oracle is happy to provide a free analysis of your current
on-premise applications and support contracts to assess how much you could re-allocate. To find out more, talk to your Oracle
rep or partner.
I also encourage you to participate in the UKOUGs Applications Innovation program. There are several upcoming events where
you can learn from your peers and subject matter experts on the transition to the Cloud giving you unique perspective and
insights that can help make your own journey even simpler.
Dont miss out get in touch today and see if you can turn your unused on-premise support spend into a cloud advantage for
your organisation.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

www.ukoug.org

Joyce Boland
VP Applications Marketing, Oracle
Joyce is responsible for driving marketing and demand generation programs for Oracle
Applications business across the globe. Joyce has over 20 years experience in the
enterprise applications market. She came to Oracle from Gartner where she was Vice
President of Enterprise and Supply Chain Management at Gartner Europe. Before
Gartner, Joyce held various positions with Dun & Bradstreet Software in Europe
and the US.

47

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Women in IT

Ambition in the
Face of Adversity
In a recent survey of IT professionals by Evolution Recruitment Solutions
and the UK Oracle User Group, over half of women believed that they
would be employed in a more senior role within
the next 5 years.

This ambitious outlook is against a welldocumented backdrop of lower wages and


poor representation for women working
in IT, with the level of pay for female IT
specialists 19% lower than that of men.

higher than the share of men who think


that they will be in a more senior job.
In fact, a higher percentage of men,
almost a third, felt that they faced a lack
of career prospects.

The negative working experiences of women


in the sector are such that when questioned
if they knew then what they now know,
a third of respondents stated the lack of
diversity would be a discouraging factor in
choosing IT as a career.

One aspect that may be driving positivity


is that women seem to be more willing to
move between roles and companies. Over
60% of women surveyed have worked
for their current employer for 1 year or
less. Men are more likely to have longer
tenure 20% stated that they had been
with their current employer for 4+ years,
compared to 12% of women.

65% of women surveyed agreed that their


salary was low when compared to that of
men. This was higher than the proportion
of men who felt the same way (59%) and
furthermore, 15% of male respondents
said they felt they were earning more than
they would have expected.
Thinking positively
However, the proportion of women that
foresee career progression is actually

48

If you want a job doing


In an industry described by one
female respondent as still having the
same issues that existed 30 years ago
there is little wonder that many women
feel that their advancement is a matter
that is something they need to
cultivate themselves.

BELIEVE

FT

BE IN A

MORE
SENIOR
ROLE IN

TIME

2/3

Those women entering the IT field are


generally well qualified, ambitious and
genuinely interested in their chosen career.
The appetite for progressing seems to

F DI

PROSPECTS

50%

EARN
<30k...

EE

LS
ALA
RY

...COMPARED

WITH 34%
OF MEN
OM
PA
RED

% OF
on 70k+
% of
on 70k+

www.ukoug.org

Everything to lose, everything to gain

CAREER

DONT KNOW
IF EMPLOYER HAS
A WOMEN IN IT
SCHEME

PEE

Turning this around will encourage more


women to plan longer careers with their
existing employers, but it must start
with measures to eradicate inequality in
salaries and champion more women in
IT departments. From a wider industry
perspective, enabling the advancement
of women will create a more diverse and
skilled workforce that will in turn attract
increased numbers of women into the
field. Furthermore, promoting the success

of women will challenge the societal


norm that the industry is a male domain,
thus helping to inspire young girls that
IT is an interesting and rewarding sector
worth exploring.

ABOUT

TO

This seems to be working, with the


proportion of female respondents earning
70k+ in line with the proportion of men
with earnings within this salary bracket.
The trend of job-hopping amongst
women is perhaps an indicator that
women understand the need to take
control, and will look for new opportunities
rather than wait to be recognised by their
current employer. This poses a real threat
to businesses who run the risk of losing
talented and ambitious employees.

PEERS

1IN 3

1IN 6

IT SPECIALISTS
ARE WOMEN

AS THEIR

POSITIVE

LOW

AS
VALUED

MORE

IS

FEEL

A LA

YEARS

1/3

T
PU

WOMEN
ARE

65 %

FIVE

GH

HR

OU

THEY
WILL

OF

JOBS IN IT

WOMEN ARE MORE


LIKELY TO SWITCH
ROLES AND CHANGE
COMPANIES

CTO

Y
S IT

KO

56

VE R

Women in IT: Survey Results

endure despite disparities in pay and the


poor representation of women in the sector.
As an entire industry we must take
responsibility for delivering opportunity
and fairness to match the ambition of our
female workforce.
To request a copy of the white paper
please contact
john.mcdonagh@evolutionjobs.co.uk

Join our Women in IT Breakfast


Meeting
On Tuesday 8th December from 08:00 09:00 well be hosting our Women
in IT breakfast meeting at Apps15, JDE15 & Tech15 for all members of the
community to network and find out more about how this initiative will be
moving forwards into 2016. Find out more on the agenda pages of each
conference website. We hope to see you there!
www.ukoug.org/conferences2015

49

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Oracle E-Business Suite

Should I Stay
or Should I Go?
As The Clashs Mick Jones and Joe Strummer lyrics said all those years ago;
If I go there will be trouble, an if I stay it will be double.
Steve Davis, COO, Namos Solutions

Decisions, Decisions

For those of us using Oracle E-Business Suite, whether


Financials, HCM, CRM, Procurement, Manufacturing etc. we are
always being told to go to the latest version, whether for the
fact that youre suddenly going to be unsupported, because they
are more rich in functionality, or there are fixes in later versions
that you really need. Either way software providers want us to
patch and upgrade on a consistent basis, its in their DNA in
order for us to remain reliable and supportable. Of course any
Payroll users will be rolling their eyes as they feel they dont have
much choice with Oracles support model.

50

So what were going to discuss here is, what are the drivers or
reasons why?
1. You could stay on 11i, if not forever at least for a while
longer or put it more bluntly, why should I move off a stable
platform?
2. If I decide to move, is R12 a good place to go, and what is
considered a stable version of this release?
3. Is Fusion (sorry Cloud slap wrist) the way to go or is it really
still bleeding edge, and is there really such a thing as coexistence?

www.ukoug.org

Oracle E-Business Suite: Steve Davis

The question then dear readers, and this isnt just focused on
11i users;

Are we going leading edge, bleeding edge or


staying away from the edge altogether?
11i Why should I move at all?

Here are some terms I hear quite regularly talking to Oracle


11i users.
1. If it isnt broke then dont fix it - Honest maybe, but there
is a point here, generally a number of users are still on 11i
because it works and is stable particularly 11.5.10 RUP2.
2. It does everything I need - In conjunction with point 1 comes
this comment. Basically speaking Ive bought Oracle, it does
what our organisation needs on a day to day basis so why
change.
3. My users know it so well - If I get a new system, even if I
upgrade there is going to be some training involved and that
comes with additional cost, it wont be like an 11.5.9 to 5.10
change.
4. My hardware and environments are in place and cope with
the throughput - Ive got good servers, good environment
strategy, we dont really do any development work or
improvements and space/processing times are not an issue.
Nothing is changing in the corporate strategy roadmap to
suggest any increase in transactional processing etc.
5. I have a good support arrangement with a managed services
provider - Support, whilst not that fantastic from Oracle lets
be honest (were all adults), is also provided by a number
of third parties. In fact a past employer of mine are still
supporting someone on 11.0.3!
6. IT strategy is steady and unremarkable for back office systems
- Lastly, for a number of organisations the Oracle E-Business
Suite/HR/CRM system is not the big concern or lifeblood
system that underpins their business, scary I know but that is
how some people feel about their ERP.

Blatantly though a natural progression from


point 6, there is also the other elephant in
the roomCOST.

Money, time and resources that quite frankly the business see as
being spent more wisely making the business more profitable.
Will a new version of their ERP really help with that or is
moving on just a necessary evil that must always be costed for
eventually?
Of course these arent the only reasons, but unless there is a real
driver to move on, then why do it? In fact dont do it! Therell be
plenty of people who will be able to help you, and sometimes
the bravest and most sensible decision is the one that is do
nothing. However, remember that youll need to review that
decision on a regular basis to ratify it.

But if I do move, where do I go?

What are the alternatives, and this isnt just for those of you still
on 11i, it has pertinence to current R12 users as well? Lets have
a quick overview of some of the options and well go into more
detail later on.
1. Release 12, but which version/release?
2. The Cloud slowly becoming the C word that offends people
more than any other. Well discuss this option, but Im sure
those of you who are seasoned readers and APPS conference
attendees there are many a Cloud-related session and article
that can do the subject more justice than myself here and now
3. A co-existence model, ironically does co-existence exist and is
it really viable?
4. Oracle wont thank me for this, and a strange one to raise in
an Oracle publication, but hey I always struggled to conform.
Lets mention it and move on to the other three in more
detail, but for some it has been or will become a viable option.
Clearly moving away from Oracle altogether will mean users
starting again from scratch on a completely new system, all
that data migration, all that user training but is Cloud so like
11i or R12 that you wont have to go through that anyway and
youd still have the reimplementation costs?
From my experience its a grown up conversation to have with
my clients and, as you would expect the cost of change is
usually higher than staying put with a particular provider, but
its healthy to do the due diligence in this respect and it puts
pressure on Oracle to up their game and provide systems that
really work for the user masses. Also if your company didnt
grow or is not using your current Oracle solution to its full
potential, then is it time to move software provider to reduce
running costs or better still take up an Oracle SaaS Cloud
offering, the savings could be significant?
>>

www.ukoug.org

51

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Oracle E-Business Suite: Steve Davis

R12

So R12 as an option to move, but which version is the one for


you, plus if youre already on R12 and dont yet want to make the
leap to Cloud, where can you go?

Each item above must then be assessed against each of the


offerings so for instance lets look at Infrastructure in the
tables below.

For a number of early movers and shakers to R12, release


12.0.6 was de rigueur, but a number waited it out and are now
on 12.1.3.

Cloud

To be honest 12.1.3 is, in my opinion and


experience in the biz, the more stable of the
two and a lot less buggy, but for anyone still
on 11i, 12.0.6 or 12.1.3 and any versions in
between, is it worth going to 12.2.4?
Again, the drivers are there and each have their merits, so
how do you make the right choice for you? Ive had many
conversations on this very subject with former colleagues and
the consensus of opinion was thus;
There are a great deal of factors (up to 20) including criteria
such as; Infrastructure, total cost of ownership, patching,
functionality, analytics, localisations and language,
performance, availability, flexibility, licencing, control and risk.

The criteria and diligence shown in R12 can and should be


repeated for Cloud offerings. If we take our example shown for
Infrastructure in R12 and apply it to Cloud we see the following
in table 2.
The option then for Private Cloud, would be to use Oracles
Private Cloud rather than non-Oracle infrastructure.
So again, the 20 or so criteria need to be reviewed. Patching
on a public cloud will always be up to date, but that has to be
tempered with the fact patching and testing cycles will be far
more frequent than organisations are currently used to, and
therefore the Control factor kicks in.
As I said earlier in the piece, there is not enough room here to
weigh up each criteria against each offering (maybe a more
expansive piece in the next issue), and there are always new
pieces written about the Cloud solutions all the time, as the
products themselves develop. HCM Cloud has been leading
the way and is well ahead of Financials or Cloud ERP, but yet it
still hasnt got a UK Localised Payroll. Financials is there now,
but SCM not so much, therefore a co-existence model may be
sought, for which the Fusion Middleware must be in existence.

Criteria

EBS R12.1.3

EBS 12.2.X

Infrastructure

Advantages
Typically requires 40-50% less disk
space than 12.2
Plenty of stable choices that are
reliable
Multiple instance costs are less than
12.2
Memory and processing requirements
are fewer than 12.2

Advantages
WebLogic clustering on multiple apps
tiers
WebLogic load balancing
WebLogic helps integrate 3rd party
apps
Newer infrastructure options

Disadvantages
Is becoming outdated
Total cost of ownership

Disadvantages
More specialist skills needed to
maintain
Higher cost than 12.1.3
Infrastructure more complex

Criteria

Public Cloud

Private Cloud

Infrastructure

Advantages
No infrastructure on site

Advantages
Control of infrastructure (unless
outsourced)
Only way to directly customise apps

TABLE 1: R12

Disadvantages
Little control in comparison to owning
the architecture on site

Disadvantages
Deemed to be costly and complex
Up to 4 times the level required
compared to R12

TABLE 2: CLOUD

52

www.ukoug.org

Oracle E-Business Suite: Steve Davis

Finally, the Public Cloud debate rages on. Talking to Oracle


recently the use of the word Public appears to have got
organisations in a bit of a stew, in that the belief is, that
everyone is sharing servers and other businesses are just a
password away from seeing your data Oracle project quite
the opposite belief, in that your data is indeed on your server,
and is more secure than most businesses own current on-site
hardware provision. I tend to side with Oracle here, your data
and security is fundamental to the future of Cloud, so to not

www.ukoug.org

And therefore we come full circle and back to paraphrasing


Jones & Strummer;
 This indecisions buggin me,
If you dont want me, set me free,
Come on an let me know, Should I Stay or Should I Go?.

Steve Davis
COO, Namos Solutions

15
ps 67
Ap and
St

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

give them the attention they deserve would be one of the


worlds worst business plans and a disaster for the corporation.

An experienced Oracle professional managing and delivering large programmes/


projects in the Oracle Applications space, whether implementation, re-implementation or
upgrades for a variety of customers through Mokum, PwC and now as COO of Namos
Solutions Ltd, ensuring they get the very best from their systems to help deliver
business success.

uk.linkedin.com/pub/steve-davis/a/298/81

@DeadlyNamos

53

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Business & Strategy

A Roadmap For Deciding an

Oracle Implementation
Strategy
Kartik Subbaraman & Chinmay Jain, Infosys

As corporations look to adopt global Oracle ERP systems, one of the primary strategic decision points
they face is whether to go for a big-bang approach for global implementation or to implement their
systems in a phase -n m wise manner (rollouts) or a combination of both. An ERP programme in
todays world is considerably complex, has a long gestation period and involves substantial monetary
commitment. The adoption of an incorrect implementation approach can lead not only to significant
monetary losses but also a serious erosion of competitiveness in the marketplace. The paper
endeavors to provide a comprehensive model illustrating strategic and operational parameters that
any programme management team must consider before deciding on implementation approach. It
illustrates a step-by-step methodology that should be adopted while attempting this exercise which
will aid implementation teams in evaluating their options.
Corporations in todays world operate in an extremely diverse
and competitive environment spanning multiple business lines
and geographies, each with their own unique set of challenges.
Add to that a plethora of software applications being adopted
and integrated, any change to the existing systems becomes
an extremely challenging and arduous task. Any Oracle ERP
implementation involves significant commitment of money,
resources and time. One of the first and foremost questions that
any programme management team on the road to an Oracle
implementation has to answer is What will be my approach

54

to my Oracle implementation?. The adoption of an incorrect


approach would lead to wide-ranging ramifications, which
would make it difficult for any organisation to recover from.
Fundamentally there are three broad approaches to an Oracle
ERP implementation:
A Big Bang approach envisages implementing an Oracle ERP
system for identified business processes across the entire
organisation in one go, at a single point of time. All the users/

www.ukoug.org

Business & Strategy: Kartik Subbaraman & Chinmay Jain

business units cut-over to the new system on a designated day


and time. Typically a Big Bang approach delivers a complete set
of new processes and modules to the end users.
A Phased Rollout approach envisions a changeover to the new
system in a series of extended steps over a period of time.
This changeover could be business area-wise, module-wise or
geographic area-wise.
A Hybrid approach is a mix of the Big Bang and Phased Rollout
wherein organisations may choose to use Big Bang for certain
identified business clusters or geographies and a phased
approach for others. The decision on which cluster to choose a
Big Bang or Phased Rollout will be dependent on organisational,
operational and business environment factors.

Approach Definitions for deciding an Oracle


Implementation Strategy

While deciding on an implementation strategy, the key decision


criteria can be grouped under two broad levers (see table 1):
Strategic
Operational

Strategic Levers

Technology
Is the corporation in an industry where the use of technology
is critical differentiator between the organisation and its
competitors?
How frequently does the organisation foresee changes in
technology which will make the existing systems obsolete?
An organisation in an industry where technology is a key
differentiator would be better off implementing in a Big Bang
approach across all units simultaneously because the gains
from the Oracle implementation would accrue to all units
resulting in better competitive advantage overall. Usage of latest
features of Oracle across the entire organisation would result in
streamlining processes and operations, companywide. Phased
Levers

Elements

Rollouts are better for corporations where technology is more


of a business enabler. A Phased Rollout, in this case, helps the
organisation tweak its processes and methodologies across
multiple iterations to achieve a durable and
dependable solution.
Objectives of the Oracle Implementation
Does the ERP programme envisage wide ranging business
process re-engineering changes leading to better control on
operations, moving to a centralised shared service model etc?
Is the objective of the implementation the need to use the
best of breed systems to competitive advantage?
If an organisation is opting to go in for wide ranging business
process re-engineering or re-alignment exercises it is better to
go in for a Big Bang implementation. This is because process
re-engineering/centralisation etc give more bang to the buck
when they are implemented all at once rather than in a phased
manner. When planning for a Big Bang approach there is
tremendous scope for designing common global processes,
adopting streamlined procedures, centralising operations and
achieving tremendous operational synergies. In a Phased Rollout
approach sometimes such synergies are difficult to foresee,
maintain and achieve. The same is the case if an organisation
is in process of revamping its entire information technology
to adopt some of the best in class technologies. Synergies
between multiple technology platforms work best when all are
integrated together across the organisation simultaneously.
While the initial effort to implement a global solution across the
organisation would be immense value, realisation is faster in a
Big Bang approach.
Business Environment
If an organisation is in a rapidly changing business environment
and business conditions are constantly in the flux, it is best
to go for a rapid Big Bang implementation. This will enable
the organisation to use the latest technological features and
upgrade quickly when the next version of Oracle is released.

Importance

Approach Definitions
Go Big Bang

Strategic

Operational

TABLE 1

www.ukoug.org

Hybrid Approach

Phased Rollout

Technology

High

Key competitive
differentiator

Key differentiator but not


critical to competitive
positioning

Technology is an enabler

Implementation
objectives

Moderate

Large scale BPR for


standardisation and
centralisation

Process standardisation
Acceptance by key
stakeholders

Step-by-step process
improvement

Business
environment

Low

Rapidly changing market


conditions

Relatively stable industry

Mature industries

Organisation

Moderate

Homogenous
organisation culture
Common business
process landscape

Common process
landscape in certain
clusters but not across
the organisation

Multiple geographies
Varied business
requirements

People

High

Limited and culturally


similar user base

Limited and similar user


base across identified
clusters

Large number of users


Diverse user base
Multiple geographies

Financial

High

Willing to commit huge


financial costs upfront

Willing to commit large


financial costs but wish
to control spending in
phases

Willing to commit limited


financial resources
and that too only after
evaluation at each step

>>
55

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Business & Strategy: Kartik Subbaraman & Chinmay Jain

Organisations in relatively stable and mature industries can


go in for a Hybrid/Phased Rollout as risk of technology/process
obsolescence is not high. Depending on business units within
the organisation an Oracle implementation approach can be
tailored to the business units.

Operational Levers

Organisational
The structure of the organisation, the kind of business it is in, the
geographies in which it operates are all critical factors in deciding
on an implementation strategy. Corporations operating in multiple
geographies generally tend to have different business process,
taxation and reporting requirements (specific to each individual
country). Harmonising all these requirements could prove a tedious
and challenging task. In such cases a Hybrid approach of grouping
business units with similar lines of business, common taxation
needs and shared reporting requirements, and implementing
the Oracle solutions for these clusters together, would realise
value and better benefits. A Phased Rollout is best if the grouping
organisations in common clusters is not possible or is difficult.

would work fine, else a Phased Rollout is advisable. A Hybrid


approach or Phased Rollout provides an advantage of segregating
the change management and adaptability process in several
steps and learning continuously.
Financial
A large scale ERP programme involves commitment of a
considerable amount of monetary resources. A Big Bang approach
would involve considerable commitment of amount of resources
upfront. But on completion of a successful implementation (if the
stated goals of the implementation are achieved) the return on
investment will be higher. By contrast in a Phased Rollout approach
the initial investment would typically be lower but the gains of
the implementation in terms of strategic process re-engineering
or centralisation of activities would be lower and would take a
longer period to fructify. An organisation should take financial and
taxation considerations into deciding on an approach.

People
The people or users who will finally use the Oracle system
determine the success or failure of any implementation
programme. Hence considering the people aspect is extremely
important while determining any strategy for implementation.
While deciding on any implementation approach the programme
team must consider the number of users who will be impacted,
the training needs, the cultural background of diverse teams,
availability of skilled personnel who will be available to support
the implementation team and the geographies in which the
users are present. Typically in a Big Bang approach the people
aspect often acts as a stumbling block in the successful
implementation of an ERP programme. The ability to co-ordinate
change management activities of a large number of employees
across multiple geographies presents a significant challenge. If
an implementation team has the resources and the ability to
manage these aspects of the programme a Big Bang approach

Conclusion
Any implementation methodology must be specifically tailored to meet an organisations unique set of challenges and
requirements. Organisations with faster go-to-market needs, using obsolete technologies or wanting to have accelerated
return on investment, should adopt a Big Bang approach. Organisations in mature industries with streamlined processes and
technologies or having people/resource constraints would prefer a Phased Rollout. A Hybrid approach is best for geographically
dispersed organisations who have areas of commonalities which can be grouped together for faster deployment. With rapidly
changing market dynamics and technologies, organisations are also considering Agile and DevOps methodologies for design
and development. A well-thought out and carefully crafted implementation strategy, tailored to the specific needs of the
organisation, will be critical to the success of any Oracle implementation.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHORS

Kartik Subbaraman
Principal Consultant, Infosys
Kartik Subbaraman (kartik_subbaraman@infosys.com) is a Principal Consultant in the
Oracle Manufacturing Practice at Infosys Limited. He has overall 12+ years of experience
post his MBA, which includes 11 years of experience in the Oracle Applications space. In
this span, he has worked and successfully delivered multiple end to end Oracle
Implementations for Retail, Manufacturing and Hi-Tech vertical clients.
Chinmay Jain (chinmay_jain@infosys.com) is a Senior Industry Principal in the Oracle
Practice at Infosys Limited. He has overall 18 years of experience post his post graduate,
which includes 14 years of experience in the Oracle Applications space. In this span, he
has managed and successfully delivered consulting assignments and multiple end
to end Oracle Implementations for Manufacturing and Hi-Tech vertical clients.

56

www.ukoug.org

www.vipappsconsulting.com

Maximise your Return on (Oracle) Investment (ROI)


Is your Oracle solution working to its full
potential?

or process steps, lack of utilisation of licensed modules,


system performance or off-system workarounds.

Many organisations have spent thousands, if


not millions of pounds over several years on their
current Oracle solution. You may have recently
upgraded to Release 12, or still be planning an
investment in the upgrade or a move to Fusion
Applications and/or Cloud technologies.

Using event based ow mapping, and benchmarking


any changes against real business transactions and
behaviours, we can help you optimise the way your
business engages with your technology, increasing
productivity and enabling you to meet your key
internal or customer KPIs.

The most successful organisations recognise


the need to continuously improve, whether this
improvement is proactive and built into the DNA of
the company workforce, or is driven as a reaction
to a business problem. Information Technology is
too often viewed as just technology, without any
emphasis on the people or processes it supports.

Visit www.vipappsconsulting.com for more information


on how we can help you extract maximum value from
your current Oracle investment.

VIP Apps Consulting has worked with major


companies in the Finance and Manufacturing/
Service industries, providing innovative strategies,
Oracle solutions and holistic process reengineering using our AMOBI methodology.
Focusing on the holistic business, our AMOBI
Assess phase helps to target the key high pain
points that are restricting the value of your Oracle
investment, whether that be inefcient workows
WHAT

ASSESS
IMPLEMENT

MAP

STRATEGY
SYSTEM
BUSINESS

BENCHMARK

OP
O
OPTIMISE

WHY

Assess - Establish key areas to target


and KPIs to measure success

Reviewing your high pain points in the context of


your business will identify the best place to focus
your investment

Map - Document existing event ow,


calling out off-system and manual
steps

Capturing the events that drive your current process,


along with the manual touch points, is essential as a
baseline to optimise from

Optimise - Streamline events, focusing


on manual or inefcient steps or tasks

Driving out manual tasks, or inefciencies, can


increase KPI delivery and enhance user engagement

Benchmark - Test the new event ow


against real business transactions and
KPIs

Tracking real transactions through the optimised


event ow demonstrates the potential of the change
and increases engagement

Implement - Introduce the new event


ow to the business in a managed
fashion

The holistic approach builds stakeholder and user


engagement, allowing a smoother transistion to the
new event ow

value.innovation.process

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Oracle E-Business Suite

SPEAKER

Presenting at Apps15 on
7th December at 17:20

Integrated Real-time Reporting


from E-Business Suite at the
University of Oxford
Susan Gillis, Finance Systems Reporting Manager, University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a global household name and I am
proud to work for such an institution not many people can say
they work for an organisation thats over 800 years old. What a
lot of people dont realise is the highly federalised nature of the
University. For quite a few areas of the enterprise, it is really a
couple of hundred separate businesses that work together for
a common aim: excellence in higher education and research.
The Finance Division has the unenviable task of trying to ensure
that all of those separate organisations are able to be both
semi-independent but also integral parts of the whole, using
common processes and procedures. To achieve this we use Oracle
E-Business Suite Financials modules, including General Ledger,
Payables, Receivables, Purchasing with iProcurement, Cash
Management, Fixed Assets and, most importantly for managing
all of that research funding, the Project Accounting module. The
University had previously used the Grants Management module
on 11i and moved the same functions into Project Accounting on
R12. Adding this to the fact that the underlying data structure
of the Financials modules changed with R12, we knew that our
project needed to include a complete replacement of our existing
E-Business Suite reporting.

A single point of entry for users we had standard Oracle


reports, FSG (ADI) reports, a couple of BI tools plus Discoverer;
Reports should open directly into Excel;
Technologically it had to work on platforms already in place at
the University;
All types of reports had to be available - from day-to-day
bread and butter reports through month-end reconciliation
to full management accounts.
The easy winner was EiS eXpress from EiS Technologies (EiS).
Their solution won on all points especially due to a combination
of both cost and functionality based upon our requirements.

In November 2013, we cut over to live processing on R12. This


project was a re-implementation, we didnt upgrade from 11i we
started again and that applied to all our reporting too.

The EiS eXpress tool integrates directly with


E-Business Suite indeed most users dont
even realise that it is actually an extension
of E-Business Suite. In addition, it comes
with Excel add-ins that enables users to work
exclusively in Excel while being transparently
logged into E-Business Suite.

Choosing the Solution

Implementation

A number of options were considered for the task of bringing all


of the previous reports together, and compared against several
essential considerations, including:

58

The hard work started once the choice had been made of
course: defining all of the reports without a stable environment
and whilst the business processes were still being revised and

www.ukoug.org

Oracle E-Business Suite: Susan Gillis

finalised. Because of their experience with many prior R12


implementations, and their hundreds of seeded reports, EiS was
able to help by assigning a Project Manager for their end, who
worked closely with the team in Oxford.
This is when I joined the Reporting workstream of the R12
project as a Report Developer. All of the reports had been
identified (in fact it changed every week, but the number of
R12 reports stabilised at around 170) and most had already
been specified. So the plan was that we would just get on with
development with some help from EiS. I wish it had been quite
that simple.
It was always understood that EiS would remotely develop a
large proportion of our reports, particularly the more complex
ones required for our use of the Project Accounting module. The
process worked well, despite the time differences; and weekly
telephone meetings kept us all on track. A small number of
Oxford employees, including myself, were trained in using the
Report Development responsibility within the tool so that we
were able to write the simpler ones at this stage and then be
well placed to manage report development going forward.

All reports are run through this single responsibility and the
reports that are available to any specific user will be determined
by the responsibilities assigned to that user. This works for the
University because the reports can be assigned optionally to
responsibilities or request groups (we use the latter generally).
So a Central Finance user will see a different list of reports to a
Finance Officer within a department.

Although there were a number of challenges


along the way, which goes with the scale of the
project, we did manage to deliver virtually all
the reports requested by the Project team (just
two were missing) in about eight months.
Due to time constraints (and the large number of custom
reports) not all of the available EiS eXpress functionality was
initially released with R12. However, over the past two years we
have gradually added more and more functionality for our user
community and there are still a few more new features in our plans.

What the Users See

As a consequence of the embedded nature of the tool, any


security that is used within E-Business Suite, e.g. Data Access
Sets, responsibilities, etc. are all available for EiS eXpress to
utilise. The end-user simply sees an additional responsibility on
the E-Business Suite Home page:

In addition, data security embedded in the report ensures that


the user only returns rows of data in any report which they are
permitted to see. For General Ledger reports, security hangs off
the same Data Access Sets that E-Business Suite uses whilst for
the other modules we have built bespoke security (well, the EiS
>>

www.ukoug.org

59

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Oracle E-Business Suite: Susan Gillis

developers did actually). This custom data security is vital to the


University because of that federalised organisation structure
mentioned above.

We still use FSG reports, of course, but these


too are run through the same EiS reporting
responsibility. Whatever the type of report,
all outputs are managed through the
Requests tab (see p.59) and again a user
will generally only see the reports they have
run. It is also possible for report outputs to be
shared across a single responsibility.

Administration

As the main Administrator for the tool I have an entire suite of


reports that enables me to monitor and maintain the Reporting
module. In addition, my team and I can see records of all the
reports run by all users so we can monitor if there are extra
server requirements, for example, and support users not getting
the results they expected (entering parameters properly is key).
Its very easy to maintain as all the processes are written for
me and I just run the relevant programs at the recommended
intervals.

There are also several secured report distribution options


and we use different methods depending upon our business
requirements. Completed reports, in any of the available
formats, can be automatically emailed as a secured link or as an
attachment. We also use the bursting option to run Universitywide reports that are automatically sliced and diced and
then selectively distributed to lead academics and heads of
department. Automation of the report distribution process has
enabled the University to achieve huge savings through more
efficient processes.
We are selectively rolling out two EiS eXpress features that are
Excel-based tools:

The GL Connect utility is a real-time General Ledger drilldown


navigation tool. It is provided only to our central and moreexperienced financial teams for ad hoc reporting, to rapidly build
financial statements and to dig down to find a quick answer to
an urgent question.

The XL Connect user front-end is being rolled out to all users for
running reports without logging into the Oracle E-Business Suite
application. So our users can accomplish all of their reporting
needs within an Excel interface connected to E-Business Suite.

As well as an Administration responsibility there is also a


Report Developer responsibility that could be given to trained
developers, which permits creation of new reports based on the
Views that are already in place. I know from talking with other
EiS eXpress clients at their user conference that some do allow
this, but never in production.

At the University of Oxford we retain strict


control over the number of reports permitted
and a full Change Control process is in place
for when new reports are requested by
the Business.
EiS eXpress Technology

We have also created report packs for our


heads of department that can be refreshed
each month very easily. The latter will ensure
all departments run consistent reports,
although this is still a work in progress.

60

The EiS eXpress system is installed onto the APPS E-Business


Suite schema like any other Oracle patch, so we do not need any
new skill sets to take this on. The EiS eXpress code sits on the
E-Business Suite applications server and the report output sits
on the database server. The installation process detects standard
customisations such as the KFFs and DFFs, and this setup
information is pushed into the reports and their underlying
views. So from the first day we were looking at our data with our
specific setups. One of the reasons Oxford selected EiS eXpress

www.ukoug.org

Oracle E-Business Suite: Susan Gillis

is because of the deep level of integration with E-Business Suite.


It utilises the exact same security setups, which even includes
our custom security, and the reports execute through Oracles
concurrent manager.

(XML) and RTF, and each report can have as many, or as few,
of these options as needed. There is also a graphical output
module for charts and dashboards that we will be looking into in
the near future.

It seems that the philosophy with EiS eXpress


has been to leverage the capabilities of
Oracle wherever possible.

Even though we needed to initially develop many new reports,


the out-of-the-box reporting tool also came with a huge and
ever-increasing number of seeded reports. These can be made
available to specific request groups. All reports are based on SQL
Views, with the option to call Packages with PL/SQL for the more
complex reports.

Im not a guru on the technical side, but as the person with


front line responsibility to keep our users happy, we have used
the many flexible options available with both reporting output
formats and also built-in automated delivery mechanisms.
Output options include Excel, Pivot, PDF, HTML, BI Publisher

Software maintenance upgrades are released at approximately


six month intervals. These patches include bug fixes and
enhancements to the functionality. We are currently on v8.02 of
the software but are testing v8.03 as it contains a whole raft of
new options that we are keen to roll out over time.

Conclusion
Did we get what we wanted? The EiS eXpress reporting tools delivered everything on our need to have and, following various
upgrades, also the nice to have lists. For Go Live, we only delivered the first set of requirements but gradually all the optional
requirements are being met as additional functionality is rolled out.
EiS Technologies have guided and supported us over the whole period, providing training and expertise when we asked for it.
They have responded positively to all our requests for functional development. The question I have been most often asked is:
would I have chosen the EiS eXpress tool for the University of Oxford? And my answer has always been, Yes, absolutely.

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

Susan Gillis
Finance Systems Reporting Manager, University of Oxford
Susan manages the team within the Financial Systems Support
Centre delivering both new and improved reports using EIS
eXpress, plus supporting users on reporting, including GL and
XL Connect. Susan has been at the University over 9 years
moving through a variety of posts to get to her current position.
You can hear more from Susan at Apps15 at 17.20 on Monday
7th December www.apps15.ukoug.org

uk.linkedin.com/pub/susan-gillis/27/a9b/b51

www.ukoug.org

61

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Business & Strategy

SPEAKER

Presenting at Apps15 on
9th December at 11:20

Key Considerations
for Cloud Adoption:

A Decision
Framework
Sean Snow, Manager - IT Advisory, KPMG

Cloud is Becoming Inevitable

As each month goes by the predictions


for cloud adoption multiply, amplifying
the need for a cloud computing strategy.
A 2014 Gartner survey1 recorded that 37%
of respondent organisations would use
the cloud for processing more than half
of their transactions by 2015. The survey
predicted this will rise to 51% by 2016 and
increase to up to 81% of organisations
post 2017.
So, whats driving cloud adoption?
Software running on cloud will become
the de facto standard
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has now
overtaken on premise in categories such
as human capital management (HCM),
customer relationship management (CRM),

62

and collaboration solutions, once available


in multiple deployment modes are now
SaaS only (Source: Forrester - Predictions
For 2014: Cloud Computing)
The cloud enables value and strategic
transformational change
In 2013, the UK Government declared a
Cloud First policy. This was driven not just
simply by the motivation to reduce cost
but by a conclusion that the cloud enables
value and strategic transformational
change. To quote Francis Maude, former
Minister for the Cabinet Office:
The Cloud First policy will embed the
skills a modern civil service needs to meet
the demands of 21st-century digital
government and help us get ahead in the
global race2.

What is the C-suite asking?


Given these drivers and the associated
benefits, C-suite executives (Chief
Executive/Finance Officers, Financial
Controllers and Chief Information Officers
and their peers) are asking what should
we be doing now?. Key questions include:
Strategic:
How can we leverage the cloud to drive
business growth, agility and lower
costs?
What are our competitors doing?
Financials & Business Case:
What are the Total Cost of Ownership
(TCO) comparisons? What are the
benefits Quantifiable or Intangible?
What is the business case?
www.ukoug.org

Business & Strategy: Sean Snow

Risk:
Is cloud infrastructure secure? Is it
compliant with our regulatory, legal,
and contractual obligations?
What are the risks? How do we mitigate
and manage them?
People:
What is the likely impact on our
organisation and staffing? What new
skills do we need to develop or acquire?
And the Chief Information Officer (CIO)
has additional concerns:
Legacy Investment & Optimisation:
How can we maximise use of existing
assets? How do we turn-up and down
capacity to avoid overpaying?
Vendor Selection & Management:
Who do we partner with and how do
we avoid vendor lock-in? How do we
contract and monitor Service Level
Agreements (SLAs), performance and
quality?
Architectural & Technology:
What are our practical options? What
should the target state look like? Which
is best?
Migration:
What should the roadmap look like?
Which applications and data must be
moved together?

Cloud Strategy & the KPMG Cloud


Decision Framework

Compliance/alignment with new


regulatory requirements
Need to improve data quality, data
lineage, controls and efficiency
The need to protect data and privacy
Gaining business advantage through
new capabilities
Moving to finance business partnering/
insight driving the business
Need to integrate acquisitions quickly,
enabling access from anywhere
CapEx and OpEx reduction targets (i.e.
in IT hardware and buildings space)
Adopting standard business processes
Mandatory carbon footprint reduction

1) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)


Whatever the market research indicates
each organisation needs to demonstrate
their cloud strategy makes commercial
sense and supports the wider business
and IT strategy, over the long term.

In parallel with this, we recommend


an assessment of your current systems
environment to confirm, for example:

S
 tage 1: A high-level cost run rate
model based on a 5 year timeframe that
helps assess the viability of the cloud
compared to alternative on premise
proposition(s). Typically achieved
through collection of basic information
(Implementation & upgrade; licence
and support; Infrastructure, Hardware,
Disaster Recovery (DR) and internal
IT support) on the as is state and
comparing this to equivalent cloud
based costs.
Stage 2: If stage 1 proves favourable
then you should develop a more
detailed high-level directional analysis
of the key economic cost drivers. For
a finance system these would include
detailed current finance IT, finance
applications, IT & finance staff costs
and the corresponding cloud finance
cost option.
Stage 3: The final stage involves
a full TCO business case and
implementation roadmap describing
the business challenge, system
options, recommended option and
associated return on investment. The
stage 3 TCO business case should be
comprehensive, including, for example,
the cost of terminating existing
contracts and associated transition cost
in general.

Current systems profile


- Lifecycle stage, custom and standard
applications, contractual support
and maintenance position, key
stakeholders etc.
- Which systems are not cloud
candidates and why they need to
remain on premise (this potential
block may change over time)
- The applications that need to be
migrated
Integration requirements
Business impact, security and data
integrity requirements
Service level commitments per system
IT skills and capability (i.e. change,
vendor, service level management etc.
become more acute with the cloud)
IT test practices

To devise an effective strategy that


addresses these questions requires a
methodical and robust framework. This
article provides an insight into our cloud
expertise harvested from our assurance
services and client engagements. It is
aimed at guiding you on the creation of
a clear cloud strategy and then how you
start to execute on that using our cloud
decision framework.

This assessment will inform an initial view


of the technical priorities to feed into the
strategy, such as a focus on low risk areas
to begin with prior to moving to highervalue, more complex integrated systems.
Early stage learnings can be incorporated
into the overall strategy to shape future
transformation and migration phases
and provide an indication of where cost
savings can be achieved.

Cloud Strategy

The KPMG Cloud Decision


Framework

Given the trends and competitive


pressures, all organisations should have
a cloud strategy and roadmap which
covers business objectives and technical
priorities. Ideally, this should be laid out
with 1, 3 and 5 year milestones.
Business objectives vary but typically
include:
www.ukoug.org

As your business objectives, technical


priorities and requirements take
shape, we recommend the adoption
of our framework to help evaluate the
various cloud provider options under
consideration, prior to the transformation
project. Key themes comprise:

As each organisations levers differ there


isnt a simple model to create a robust
TCO comparison for the cloud. Therefore,
we recommend using a progressively
detailed 3 stage approach to qualify
and clarify the nature of cost savings
and business improvements that can be
derived from the cloud.

2) Security, Architecture and Risk


Compliance
You need to be confident that your
specific risk, compliance, resilience and
control requirements are adequately
captured and addressed. We recommend
an assessment is undertaken against your
strategy covering your key criteria - those
the cloud provider should meet including:
Architecture
Information and Physical Security

>>
63

OracleScene
AUTUMN/WINTER 15

Business & Strategy: Sean Snow

Data/Incident Management processes


Business resilience and continuity
Contractual
Change Control (SaaS entails regular
mandatory updates, not at your
discretion)

Clients need confidence that their cloud


service provider meets their requirements
or is clear on any exclusions, limitations or
obligations that remain with them, before
making a final decision. We recommend
that the following areas are covered:

This will identify the extent to which the


cloud providers offering matches your
needs and target terms and conditions,
highlight any inconsistencies and enable
you to assess each options risk profile,
devising potential mitigations to shortlist
accordingly.

Confirm:
- Which regulatory regimes/legislation
apply to you and what your
responsibilities and obligations are
- The suitability of internal data
controls and the impact of cloud on
these
- The types of data that will be placed
in the cloud
Clarify if the cloud data will move
outside the EEA & how data, DR and
back-ups will be managed
Identify where you can/must prove
compliance to satisfy regulators and
clients

3) Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory views on cloud services are
still to be fully developed, however,
regulations still apply and when using
a cloud service in the UK and European
Economic Area, the Data Protection Act
(DPA) must be followed. For example,
when a regulated firm procures cloud
services, and those services are considered
critical or important, the firm must ensure
that it complies with the FCAs rules on
outsourcing.

64

This will help clarify the extent to which


the cloud provider contracts meet your
relevant legal & regulatory requirements
for control enforcement and identify any
residual risks not covered.

4) Integration
Integration is a consistent theme of
business system delivery and with an
ever more connected world it is becoming
important that you have an open but
secure means of transferring data to and
from your cloud service. To determine the
suitability of vendor cloud propositions
you should collate your primary decision
points and priority items for discussion
with the cloud vendor:
Current state: e.g. What integration
strategy and policies are in place?
What is the level of implementation
and compliance? Does it support
integration between cloud and on
premise applications, does it need
extending to operate with the target
cloud service provider(s) architecture?
What are the technical and business
impacts?
Strategy: e.g. What are the technical
and business resilience requirement
implications for your future integration
framework in terms of scalability,
availability, recovery and integrity and
how does the cloud provider address

www.ukoug.org

Business & Strategy: Sean Snow

them? What is the desired cloud


providers role in support of recovery
of interfaces in transit at the point of
failure? Is this addressed adequately?
Requirements: e.g. System
management/monitoring and error
handling: What level of integration
monitoring is required, how much
of the integration framework and
monitoring is provided by the cloud
provider and to what level? For changes
- How are changes to be controlled and
managed? Where do the obligations
lay? What constraints apply?
Commercial: What are your priority
terms and conditions for integration
services and are these suitably covered?
By clarifying these items with related
impact and likelihood, you will have a
checklist to help you assess how well
each cloud service provider meets your
requirements and how they compare to
current industry practises.
5) People and Capability
Adopting the cloud, and its associated

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

automation, integration and reporting


capability, usually impacts your operating
model. We have assisted many clients in
defining and driving the people aspects of
organisation and change management,
such as target operating model design
and the roles and capabilities needed to
support cloud based models.
Clients want confidence that their cloud
implementation will be effectively
embedded within their organisation
and the following approach will help to
assess your readiness, associated people
implications and what needs to put in
place to maximise the opportunity:
Change Management You should
review the current organisational
culture, values and ways of working,
comparing these to the business
case and vision for change. From this
you will be able to identify risks and
associated stakeholders and assess the
nature of the change management and
work required to embed the desired
new behaviours, mandated by the

Cloud strategy defined, Cloud


selected what next?

The KPMG Cloud Decision Framework


is one of the many assets we have to
support cloud adoption. We also have
other assets including KPMG Powered HR
and KPMG Powered Finance which help to
accelerate and de-risk cloud based Human
Resource and Finance transformation
implementations. For further information
on any aspects of our Cloud Decision
Framework, Powered HR and Powered
Finance please contact Sean Snow at
sean.snow@kpmg.co.uk.

Sean Snow
Manager - IT Advisory, KPMG
Sean is a Manager in KPMGs UK Management Consulting function with 30 years
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) experience - the last 16 with Oracle and Oracle
partners. Since completing a multi Million procurement assignment for a FTSE100
client in 2014, he has been part of the team building KPMGs Powered Finance Oracle
ERP cloud based transformation proposition.

cloud, in the business. For example,


with SaaS cloud, businesses have less
freedom to customise
Your new operating model will include a
range of capabilities entailing roles with
varied / new skills and competencies.
This will need to be thoroughly
worked through to ensure all roles
and competencies are adequately
covered and an appropriate approach to
training has been identified.

uk.linkedin.com/in/seanfsnow

2014 Gartner Financial Executives International CFO Technology Study


Government adopts Cloud First policy for public sector IT Press Release May 2013

www.ukoug.org

65

G LO B A L
S O F T WA R E
U K

L I M I T E D

Start in Excel. Stay in Excel.

UKOUG Events
in 2016

Were excited to showcase the current line up


of events for 2016. More events and dates will
be added to the calendar as they are confirmed.
For the latest on events, dates, agendas and
venues visit www.ukoug.org/events
All information was correct at time of printing. Subject to change.

January
UKOUG Database Server SIG

July
London

UKOUG Application Innovation Event 2016


(Your Journey to Cloud)
London
UKOUG RAC Cloud Infrastructure & Availability SIG London

London
London
London

September

February
UKOUG Project Management SIG
UKOUG Hyperion SIG
UKOUG Oracle Financials SIG

March
OUG Ireland 2016
UKOUG Business Analytics SIG
UKOUG Application Server & Middleware SIG
UKOUG HCM SIG
UKOUG Licence Management Event 2016
UKOUG Systems SIG

Dublin
London
Solihull
London
London
London

April
UKOUG Higher Education SIG
UKOUG Development SIG
UKOUG RAC Cloud Infrastructure
& Availability and Database Server SIG
UKOUG EMEA PeopleSoft Roadshow 2016
UKOUG Apps DBA SIG
UKOUG HCM Cloud SIG

London
London
Manchester
London
London
London

May
UKOUG Applications Express (APEX) SIG
UKOUG Spatial & Graph SIG
UKOUG JD Edwards SIG
UKOUG Systems Event 2016
UKOUG Oracle Financials SIG
UKOUG Project Management SIG

Solihull
London
TBC
London
Manchester
London

UKOUG Oracle Financials SIG


Birmingham
UKOUG JD Edwards SIG
TBC
UKOUG Application Server & Middleware SIG
London
UKOUG Database Server SIG
Solihull
UKOUG Business Analytics SIG
Solihull

October
UKOUG HCM SIG
Birmingham
UKOUG HCM Cloud SIG
Birmingham
UKOUG Ireland BA & Big Data SIG
Dublin
UKOUG Ireland Tech SIG
Dublin
UKOUG Apps DBA SIG
London
UKOUG Higher Education SIG
Solihull
UKOUG Application Express (APEX) SIG
London
UKOUG RAC Cloud Infrastructure & Availability SIG
TBC
UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards 2016
London
UKOUG Systems SIG
London

December
Super Sunday - part of Tech16
UKOUG Technology Conference & Exhibition 2016
UKOUG Applications Conference & Exhibition 2016
UKOUG JD Edwards Conference & Exhibition 2016

TBC
TBC
TBC
TBC

June
OUG Scotland Event 2016
UKOUG Hyperion Event 2016
UKOUG Application Server & Middleware SIG
UKOUG AGM 2016
UKOUG Database Server SIG

www.ukoug.org

Scotland
London
Reading
London
London

67

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