Friday Mar 01, 2013

Plans for Certifying Google Chrome with E-Business Suite

Google Chrome logoGoogle Chrome is a popular browser in the consumer sector.  It's fast, clean, and standards-compliant.  It's also popular internally at Oracle: many of our own Applications Technology Group staff -- notably, our OA Framework architects and developers -- ignore Oracle's own desktop standards and use Chrome as their default browser. 

This tells you that Chrome generally works nicely with Oracle E-Business Suite. There may be some quirks with specific products, but it is largely compatible with most OA Framework-based screens.

That said, it isn't officially certified with the E-Business Suite.

Why not?

We're reserving judgement on making it an official certification because of what appears to be low demand from EBS enterprise customers. This seemingly-low demand doesn't warrant expanding our current certification permutations further.

Our current certification space is already intimidatingly-large.  For Windows desktops alone, we currently have over 400 officially-certified combinations of EBS {11i | 12.0 | 12.1} * Windows {XP | Vista | 7 | 8} * {{IE 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10} | Firefox ESR } * JRE {6 | 7} * Office {2003 | 2007 | 2010 | 2013}.

Adding Chrome for just Windows 7 and 8 could add up to 48 new combinations to be tested.

The impending death of the conventional browser certification model

You're probably not shocked to hear that we don't test every one of those 400 combinations with every new EBS release.  And, yes, I've heard every variant of the obvious jokes about the number of combinations that we actually do test.

It's clear that conventional certification approaches aren't sustainable.  Mobile devices and their associated browsers are proliferating. The new reality of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in the enterprise space is inescapable.

We're examining options for moving beyond the conventional certification model for EBS browsers.  I'll post more details when they're available.  Until then, we're going to continue with the status quo of certifying specific browser versions with specific clients with specific EBS releases.

Enterprises leery of browsers on rapid release cycles?

In 2011, Mozilla switched Firefox to a rapid release cycle with a new release coming out every six weeks.  Most enterprises (including Oracle) can't keep up with that deployment rate, so we switched our E-Business Suite + Firefox certification track to Mozilla's Extended Support Release (ESR) channel. Mozilla's ESR releases come out every 12 months.

My impression is that enterprises have become a little wary of using Firefox since Mozilla's change to a rapid release cycle. I conduct straw polls of my audiences at various conferences.  It seems like enterprise use of Firefox has dwindled dramatically in the last few years.

That's just a theory, and it doesn't affect our certification policies.  We've certified Firefox with the E-Business Suite in the past, so we'll continue to certify Firefox for the foreseeable future. But that illustrates the importance of being careful about certification decisions.  Once we certify something, it's very difficult to withdraw support in the future.

Chrome is also released on a rapid release cycle.  This cycle appears to be driven by various less-predictable or unpublished factors, but the upshot is that their cycles average out to a new release every 6 to 8 weeks

This begs some interesting questions.  If enterprise usage of Firefox changed because of Mozilla's switch to a rapid release cycle, what do enterprises think of Chrome's rapid release cycle?  Google doesn't offer an equivalent of Mozilla's annually-updated option for Chrome.  How are enterprises managing Chrome deployments?

Some EBS customers can't control their users desktops

EBS customers with externally-facing modules (e.g. iRecruitment, iSupplier, iStore, etc) cannot control their users's desktops.  This is especially true for educational institutions.

Luckily for those customers, the vast majority of EBS OA Framework-based (HTML) screens work reliably with a wide range of certified and uncertified browsers, including Chrome.  Things get trickier when dealing with the Forms-based products that require specific JRE releases, but this generally isn't an issue since Forms-based EBS products aren't available to "external" (non-enterprise) users.

Would you like us to certify Chrome with EBS?

Chrome generally works well with the E-Business Suite, but we can only provide EBS patches for issues that can be reproduced with certified browsers. 

If you'd like us to add Chrome as an officially-certified browser, please log a Service Request and ask Support to update enhancement request 5921574 with details about:

  • Your business case (e.g. "student user population not centrally managed")
  • Minimum desired EBS release
  • EBS products to be used
  • Estimates of desktops affected
  • Minimum desired Windows release

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