Tuesday Jun 10, 2014

VirtualBox appliance for the Oracle Communications Service Delivery Platform (SDP) Products

It's been quite awhile since we last blogged. This blog is written by Leif Lourie, a Curriculum Developer for the Oracle Communications Service Delivery Platform (SDP) products. For the last 8 years, Leif has worked as a Curriculum Developer for many of the telecom-oriented products that Oracle offers. He has been working in the telecom industry for about 25 years and has also worked as a software developer, project manager, and solutions architect. He is currently working on courseware for an upcoming release for one of the Service Delivery Platform products. Thanks to Leif not only for this blog, but for making the VM described in the blog available.

Cheryl Lander, Oracle Communications InfoDev Senior Director


To be able to download, install and test a product within a day is many times very important for people that are doing the primary evaluation of a software product. If it takes longer, it will require a bigger effort, like a proof-of-concept project with many people involved. Of course, if the product is chosen for a more thorough test, it will probably happen anyway, but then maybe with focus on integration instead of product features.

We have a long tradition of creating complex software that is easy to install and test and we have often been praised for the ease of getting our products up and running.

One key for this has been that there has always been an installer for Windows, as well as for the production environments that usually are Unix and Linux. And, the windows installer has, in most cases, been released for developing and testing purposes.

Lately, this has changed. Our products are very seldom released for the Windows platform, at all. And even the Linux versions are almost always released for 64-bit systems.

This is creating problems for many of the people that want to try out our products, since few have access to a 64-bit Linux system of the right platform. Most of us are using a laptop with Windows or Mac OS. Some of us are using Linux or Solaris, but probably a non certified distribution for the product you want to test.

My job, among other things, is to develop hands-on practices for our products. For me, it is crucial to have access to environments for installing and using our products. For this reason I have been using virtual machines for many years.
I have a ready-made base system, with the necessary tools installed for all the products I create hands-on practices for. Whenever I start working on hands-on practices for a new product or a new version, I just copy the base system and start working with a clean slate. This saves me a lot of time!

Now, I would like to start saving time for my favorite student: You!

If you are using our products and regularly test new versions you might benefit from the virtual machine that is now available on Oracle Technology Network: The Virtual Machine for the Oracle Communications Service Delivery Platform (SDP) Products.

This virtual machine contains an installation of the 64-bit version of Oracle Enterprise Linux, version 6. It also has Oracle Database Express Edition (XE), Oracle Java and Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse installed.

By using Oracle VM VirtualBox you may use Windows, OS X, Linux or Solaris on your laptop. VirtualBox can be installed on top of any of these platforms and give you the ability to run virtual machines in your laptop.


After downloading and starting the virtual machine you will also need to download the installation files for the product you want to test; for example Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper or Oracle Communications Online Mediation Controller.

In some cases there are lessons and practices available for the products. The freely available courses are listed in Oracle Learning Library as a Collection of Oracle Communications Service Delivery Platform Courses. As time goes by, we will make this list collection bigger.

Also, the goal is to update the virtual machine about one to two times per year. So you will always be able to get a well maintained virtual machine for the Service Delivery Platform products from us.

We Value Your Feedback

If you would like to suggest improvements or report issues on any of the product documentation, curriculum, or training produced by the Oracle Communications Information Development team, you can use these channels:

  • Post a comment on this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Friday Aug 30, 2013

Services Gatekeeper 5.1: A Large Documentation Effort for a Feature-Rich Platform

Today's blog is from one of our technical writers, John Francis, from the Service Delivery Platform (SDP) writing team. He was the documentation project lead for the most recent release of the Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper and shares information about the product and the docs below. John is relatively new to the our team - he started in March 2012. He has a fondness for electronic gadgets and Boston Terriers, and can be found in the shoe department at Nieman’s watching his wife shop most weekends. He has a keen sense of humor, which you'll soon experience. I hope you enjoy reading his blog!

Cheryl Lander, Oracle Communications InfoDev Senior Director

Thanks very much, Cheryl! By way of introduction, Oracle Communications Services Gatekeeper lets telecom service providers grant their partners access to myriad telecom network services via easy-to-use, standardized interfaces known as facades. Its feature set includes full partner and network control, finely grained service level agreement support, and almost unlimited extensibility potential, along with carrier grade reliability and scalability.

After more than a year of concerted development effort, on May 28th, 2013, Oracle released a comprehensive upgrade for Services Gatekeeper that provides the following enhancements:

  • Simplified telecom partner management, including policy provisioning, partner on-boarding, and business process automation via a brand new web-based partner portal application
  • API reporting capabilities allowing telecom customers to see detailed trends at a glance
  • An expanded repertoire of communications services including support for QoS, Email, Address List Management, Bulk Messaging, and Application Subscription Management
  • Enhanced existing Services Gatekeeper APIs in the areas of Charging, Unified Messaging, Mobile Policy and Authorization and Authentication, via OAuth and Anonymous Customer References
  • Expanded platform support, including ready-to-use integration with Oracle Communications Online Mediation Controller, Oracle Communications Policy Controller, as well as Siebel CRM, via SMS and Email

As you can see from that list, the modest “dot one” version increment belies a wealth of expanded features and complexity, all of which it was incumbent upon SDP InfoDev to document.

Project Documentation Accomplishments

As often happens, because of the multiplicity of projects and responsibilities, InfoDev arrived a bit late in the development of Services Gatekeeper 5.1. In addition to the late start, the writing team faced the following challenges:

  • With a lead writer new to Oracle and Services Gatekeeper, the lead had to learn the CGBU InfoDev organization's enterprise documentation standards, and ramp up on the extensive processes devoted to delivering quality technical documentation.
  • Services Gatekeeper is a huge product with broad areas of functionality. It’s difficult to master some of the core concepts, let alone the entire product.
  • The documentation set has expanded over Gatekeeper’s decade plus service life. Writers had to carefully research the two thousand plus pages of documentation to identify which documents were affected by which features.
  • We’ve got only two hard-working editors, whose time is continually spoken for and whose schedules were at odds with Services Gatekeeper’s milestones.
  • Development goals were fluid during the course of the project with features prioritized and deprioritized on a regular basis.

We were able to mitigate those factors by assembling a team of veteran technical writers (along with one scrappy upstart) who were able to dig into the Services Gatekeeper documentation library, understand its scope, assimilate the new features and come up with a flexible documentation plan. As with all large scale, long term projects (this one spanned more than a year), we needed to remain agile, regularly interfacing with the development team, and trying to stay on top of the project. In addition, we counterbalanced the lack of editorial support by farming out our documentation to our willing colleagues for peer review.

Project Documentation Extended Accomplishments

At the beginning of the project, our goals were initially modest. We, of course, wanted to document all features, as well as provide editorial support for the two Javadoc systems that ship with Services Gatekeeper. As the project evolved, and the timeline expanded to encompass unforeseen obstacles and integrate late-breaking critical features, similarly, InfoDev expanded its scope. In the end, the team met the following additional expanded goals:

  • Created a new Security Guide per Oracle’s latest guidelines
  • Produced and delivered a revised and reorganized OAuth guide
  • Reviewed more than 650 Javadoc source files, making edits to approximately 195 of those
  • Worked extensively with the Portal team, not only on online help for the application but also on workflow reviews and bug hunting
  • Addressed more than thirty incidental documentation enhancement requests requested during the product lifecycle
  • Closed out bug backlogs from earlier versions and made it to GA with no outstanding issues

Our fantastic production team also enabled enhancements that required no effort from us, the most impressive of which were:

  • ePub and Mobi ereader formats, should you wish to review our documentation on your tablet or ereader
  • A much requested search feature, capable of searching our documents either at the library or single document level
  • And, finally, on a nerdy level, a new source control system (Subversion, or SVN) that enabled us to build our documents whenever our hearts desired

Future Plans for Services Gatekeeper Documentation

Naturally, time stands still for no software product, and Services Gatekeeper is no exception. Even as I write this, product management and development are in the planning stages for the next version, and InfoDev is no different. Some initial goals that we’re hoping to meet for the next version include:

  • Having the large (22 systems) documentation library reviewed by our content architects and identifying opportunities for simplification and consolidation
  • Working with Product Management and Consulting teams to identify areas in the documentation which need to be improved or expanded
  • Identifying tools that will help improve the quality of our documentation with little to no capital investment or time commitment

We Value Your Feedback

If you're an Oracle employee, you can find the Services Gatekeeper 5.1 docs here.

As always, we’d love to get feedback! If you’ve got content additions or changes, you can post a comment on this blog or send email to cgbu_docfeedback_us_grp@oracle.com.

Finally, you can find all our documentation on the Oracle Technology Network.

Thanks for reading!

About

This is a blog from the Oracle Communications Information Development team, led by Cheryl Lander, Sr. Director. She and members of her team from various functions (writers, curriculum developers, and architects) and product lines will share their approach to documentation and curriculum, all with the goal of getting feedback to improve their deliverables. We'd like to thank Joe Sciallo, UCS Tech Writer (former Sun) for pushing us into the social media world. The primary team driving this blog is called "Joe and the Blogettes"; other members include Brenda Roldan (BSS Tech Writer), Jodie Wilford (OSS InfoDev Director), Leif Lourie (SDP Curriculum Developer), and Scott T. Miller (Documentation Architect).

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