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Enabling the Future Today - Feature Flags in Oracle Integration Cloud

Antony Reynolds
Senior Director Integration Strategy

Enabling the Future Today

Within Integration cloud we are moving to a model that allows us to trial new features without making them available to everyone.  Everone runs the same codebase but feature flags control what is available to a specific instance.  Why would we do this? For multiple reasons:

  • Gain feedback on new features before rolling them out to the whole user base.
  • Test new features in "the wild" in a controlled manner.
  • Be able to rollback new features that may have unforeseen problems.

How It Works

Each new feature is given a flag that is used to control its availability.  For instance the flag for the small footprint OIC agent was oic.adapters.connectivity-agent.light-weight-agent.  If this flag was enabled for a given OIC instance then they could download the lightweight connectivity agent.  Other OIC instances running the same code but with the flag turned off would not offer the new agent.

Flags are controlled from a central system and can be updated in real time by Oracle development and operations.  This means that feature flags can be turned on very quickly, and also if a problem occurs they can be disabled.

Feature Flag Lifecycle

Feature flags have a lifecycle as illustrated below.

The different stages are:

Internal Only

You may see a product manager demo features on an instance that are not currently available, if using a production pod these may only be available to internal users.  This is where we try things out internally before turning them on for any customers.  Once we are happy with the feature internally we are ready to share it with selected customers and move the feature to Feature Controlled.  Note that this change in stage does not require any code changes, it just alters our internal approval process to enable the feature.

Feature Controlled

Once a feature enters the feature controlled stage then a customer may request that the flag be enabled for one or more of their OIC instances.  If approved then those instances will have the flag enabled and the feature will become available within a few minutes of being enabled.  Again there are no code changes to the customer instance, just the change in the flag status from disabled to enabled in the central feature flag server.

Feature Controlled General Availability

Once we are happy with the stability of a feature we will enable it for all instances.  This again does not require a code change.  We leave the flag in place so that if a specific customer has a problem we can disable the feature just for them or roll it back.  This is a safety measure in case problems occur that were not caught by internal users or early adopters of the feature.

General Availability

Eventually the flag controlling the feature will be removed.  This has no impact on the end user, it just allows us to keep the code paths clean and remove unused code that has been made obsolete by the new feature.  End user will see no difference between this stage and the previous one.  So I mention it here only to explain how we keep our codebase clean.

What Flags are Available?

The following flags are currently available in the Feature Controlled stage.  We will be blogging about these features and as we do we will update the detailed explanation with a blog entry explaining the feature in detail.  As we add new features we will update this blog.

Feature Flag Name Description Detailed Explanation
oic.ics.console.diagnostics.oracle-litmus-support Litmus support for automated testing. How to use Litmus to create OIC Integration unit tests automatically and run them to catch regressions
oic.adapter.connectivity-agent.ha HA support for connectivity agent  
oic.ics.console.integration.throw-action Allow users to throw error in integration  
oic.ics.console.integration.nested-try-scopes Allow user to create nested scopes  
oic.cloudadapter.adapters.oraclehcmtbe Taleo Business Edition (TBE) Adapter  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.rightnow.mtom.upload File upload as MTOM in Rightnow  
oic.ics.mapper.jetmap-enablement New Jet UI based mapper  
oic.cloudadapter.adapters.epm Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Adapter (EPM Adapter)  
oic.insight.consoles.instanceprogress Support different display for Insight instance details page  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.utilities.wsdlupload Option to upload wsdl for inbound Utilities adapter  
oic.ics.console.integration.layout View integration as pseudo-code style layout  
oic.ics.console.schedule.parameter-override-support Allows user to override the schedule parameters Overriding Schedule Parameters

How to Request a Feature Flag

To request a feature flag be enabled for one of your environments raise a Service Request via My Oracle Support.  Provide the following information in the SR:

  • Name of the feature flag that you want to be enabled.
  • URL of your OIC instance
  • Content of the About Box from your OIC instance which should include the following:
    • Version e.g. 18.3.3.0.0 (180823.1018.14180)
    • Database Schema Version e.g. 18.08.16
    • Service Instance e.g. myinstance
    • Identity Domain e.g. idcs-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    • Service Type e.g. Autonomous - 2
  • Justification
    • Explain why you want the feature enabled, providing a use case.

Your request will then be submitted to a product manager for approval.  Once approved then the request will be forwarded to enable the feature on your requested environment.

Caveats

Features are in controlled availability because they may still have some defects in them.  Be aware that by using feature flag controlled items ahead of general availability means that you are being an early adopter of new features and although we do our best to ensure a smooth ride you may experience some bumps.  Occasionally we may have to make changes to the functionality enabled in the feature flag before it becomes generally available.  Just something to be aware of.  However the feature flag enables us to release new features to customers whose use cases will benefit from them before we are ready to make a feature generally available.  We think this is good for both you, the customer and us, Oracle,  A win-win situation!

Previous Flags Now Generally Available

The following flags are no longer used as the features they controlled are now available to all instances of Oracle Integration Cloud. Note that if you are using User Managed Oracle Integration Cloud then you may need to upgrade to the latest release to get these features.

Feature Flag Name Description Detailed Explanation
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.hcm.dataExtract Data Extract for HCM Adapter Configuring the Extract Bulk Data Option in an Integration
oic.adapters.hcm-cloud.atom-feed-support Atom Feed support for HCM Adapter Subscribing to Atom Feeds in a Scheduled Integration
oic.adapters.connectivity-agent.light-weight-agent Lightweight Connectivity Agent Managing the Agent Group and the On-Premises Connectivity Agent
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.rightnow.queryCSV.Validation Rightnow adapter query CSV Validation Specifying QueryCSV Statements when Configuring the Oracle RightNow Cloud Adapter as an Invoke
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.database.batchSelect Oracle Database Adapter - Operation On Table - Select and Merge  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.database.batchInsertUpdate Oracle Database Adapter - Operation On Table - Insert and Update  
oic.cloudadapter.adapters.dbaasdatabase Oracle DBaaS Adapter - Operation On Table - Insert, Update, Merge and Select  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.rightnow.noSchema    
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.rest.oauth10aPolicy OAuth for REST Adapter  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.rightnow.fileDownload Rightnow (Service Cloud) Adapter file download feature  
oic.ics.console.integration.inline-menu Allow user to add actions/trigger/invoke inline from canvas instead of drag and drop  
oic.cloudadapter.adapters.rest_opa Oracle Policy Automation Adapter  
oic.ics.mapper.encode-decode-on-files Base64 Encode/Decode for Files  
oic.cloudadapter.adapter.soap.enableMtom MTOM Support for SOAP Adapter  
oic.ics.console.connection.soap.uploadzip Support Zip File Upload in SOAP Adapter  

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