Debugging Series: Working With Oracle Support
By Richard Bingham on Apr 02, 2013
With my background in Oracle Support, this channel represented a way for me to share some recommendations, tips, and tricks on getting solutions fast. As such it fits into our Debugging Series of posts, helping you troubleshoot problems in Fusion Applications extensions, customizations, and integrations.
Using the content here should help you work with Oracle Support in a more collaborative way, producing quicker results and fewer of those arduous requests for more information.
Finding the answer yourself will always be the fastest method of solving a problem. Self-service support has existed for a long time, and continues to evolve. For example, did you know that before every SR is closed Oracle Support do a review for content that could be used in a knowledge document, with around 6000 knowledge documents of different types already available for Fusion Applications.
Here are some of the more popular (and obvious) places where many known-solutions exist today and often contain answers to questions and advice.
- Fusion Applications Administrators Guide, especially the Troubleshooting section (which is due to become its own document in a release soon).
- Fusion Applications Developers Guide
- Fusion Applications Extensibility Guide and the CRM Extensibility Guide
- Fusion Middleware Administrators Guide: especially chapters 12 and 13 on diagnosing problems.
- My Oracle Support KnowledgeBase and in particular the Information Centers linked from Note 102.1 and using Search-by-Product with the following paths:
a) Customization/Extension components in:
Oracle Fusion Applications > Applications Technology >
Applications Technology > Oracle Fusion Application Toolkit
b) For Application Composer: Oracle Fusion Applications > Customer Relationship Management > CRM Common > Oracle Fusion CRM Application Composer
- Community and Forums such as the My Oracle Support Community for Fusion Technology and the Fusion Applications OTN forum.
Getting Started Right
A problem well understood is said to be a problem half solved, and it’s actually been measured that currently in the customer support industry around 50% of the total resolution time is taken on understanding the problem properly.
The following items are generally required for most problem types, and providing them upfront greatly improves the understanding around the issue, reducing the need to interrupt ongoing analysis and investigation. Some of these are fields in the MyOracleSupport SR creation screens, however please keep all in mind when completing some of the more general text fields.
- What you are trying to achieve, including general purpose and importance of the work.
- What exact tools you are using, including the related versions if available.
- Steps you are using, including detailed screenshots ideally.
- For JDeveloper customizations, either illustrative sections of code or full project files.
- Any instructions or documents you have used or tried to follow.
- Errors and Logs from Fusion Applications if issue occurs there.
- Errors and Logs from the Console Window in JDeveloper if issue occurs there.
- Is this the first time you tried this, or has this worked in the past? If it worked before, what is different?
- Accurate contact details, including any times you are unavailable.
- Choose the right product and then pick the proper problem type, as below.
Figure 1 – Choosing the right problem type for Customization and Extension issues.
When new systems are deployed some upfront preparation can save significant delays that can impact the speed of issue resolution. It’s best to do these before a business-halting issue occurs.
The most obvious items are around making sure your instances are accessible to support teams, and suitably prepared for using the various diagnostics and troubleshooting tools and options. In addition, configuration and change management are also very important when in maintenance mode, as is the support of suitably cloned test and development instances.
It is very helpful to set and understand expectations on the handling of each problem, and explain clearly any business urgency or changes in the impact of an existing issue. This helps Oracle Support allocate resources and often reduces the need for any later escalation on.
Expectations should be also set internally in your organization too. It is often important to engage with business users, system administrators, and infrastructure providers during investigations, therefore for new systems it is wise to setup prior arrangements and procedures to prevent any later delays.
What To Avoid
The following are traditional no-no’s in the support for Oracle Applications, and whilst Fusion Applications is all new, these core principles still apply.
- Never de-compile and change Oracle-shipped code files. Always look to extend on application code using the supported tools and methods, as this usually leaves the original files unmodified. Examples are using the runtime Fusion Composers and the JDeveloper Fusion Applications Customization roles.
- Try to ensure technology configuration changes remain within recommended use with Oracle Applications. The documentation and support notes are helpful here.
- Never upgrade your technology stack components without first checking they are fully certified with your Oracle Application version. Use the Certify tab on My Oracle Support.
- Never update the live database data or objects through SQL*Plus or other direct means. Use only Data Fix and modification scripts provided by Oracle.
- Always ensure that you have full documentation (and ideally a separate support agreement) for your customizations and extensions.
Finally, as an insiders tip, try not to stop working on a problem just because you have raised an SR with Oracle. Whilst you can rely on Oracle to deliver a solution, often something suddenly seems to get noticed in the system that can greatly contribute to finding the cause of the problem. Partnering with Oracle Support during investigation increases the problem analysis and often different perspectives bring fresh insights.