Case Study: Oracle's Own E-Business Suite 11i Global Single Instance

[Oct. 27, 2008 Update:  The latest version of this popular presentation from OpenWorld 2008 is now available for download.  The latest presentation covers Oracle's upgrade from Release 11i to Release 12. For links to the latest version, see this article.]

I'm always skeptical of companies that don't use their own products. 

It's instructive, then, to look at how Oracle itself uses the E-Business Suite Release 11i.  Our internal Global Single Instance deployment of Oracle Apps isn't the largest in the world, but it's definitely in the top 10% in terms of transactional volumes and scale of deployment. 

Oracle Apps GSI Architecture:

Once Exotic Architectures Now Commonplace

Our own deployment incorporates nearly all of the architectural options once considered advanced, such as load-balancing, demilitarized zones, Real Application Clusters, and OracleAS 10g integration.  Cliff Godwin, the Applications Technology Group's senior vice president and overall architect for the E-Business Suite's technology stack, has observed that these so-called advanced deployments are now so commonplace that they should be considered mandatory for all enterprise-class Apps architectures.

Consolidating Over 70 Instances into One

The scale of what our internal Apps IT group accomplished is staggering, even to insiders familiar with the details.  Over 70 separate Applications 11i instances were consolidated into a Global Single Instance in roughly four years.  As a result, business functions were pulled into shared service centers for Purchasing, Payables, Order Administration, and so on.  It's estimated that our cost savings are somewhere between $1 to $2 billion dollars, a figure I personally find mind-boggling.

Quick Statistics

Here are some slightly-outdated statistics from a few years ago about our internal Global Single Instance:
  • 6 TB of data
  • 8 billion rows of data
  • 120 organizations
  • 431 sets of books
  • 340 million GL lines
  • 1.1 million customers
  • 300,000 vendors
  • 40 million AR invoice lines
  • 193,000 projects
System Architecture View

Here are some of the most interesting technical highlights of this deployment:
  • Database Servers:  4 Real Application Cluster (RAC) Sun Fire E25K 36 x 1.2 GHz
  • EMC DMX 300 Disk Array
  • Application Servers:  50+ Linux-based Dell PowerEdge 2650 2 x 3.0 GHz with 6 GB RAM
  • Shared application & techstack filesystem on NetApp Filer 960C
  • F5 BigIP load-balancing and demilitarized zones separating internal and external users
  • OracleAS 10g, Single Sign-On, Oracle Internet Directory, Portal, Discoverer integration
  • Highly-available configuration with full disaster recovery between multiple data centers
For More Information

Bret Fuller's OpenWorld sessions on lessons learned throughout this project are always standing-room only.  If you can't make it to this year's conference, here are some useful links:
Related Articles

I'm not familiar with Metalink's underlying systems.  I'll see if I can dig something up on this.OTN (Oracle Technology Network) is run on a separate set of OID/SSO systems today, but this will be consolidated with the same Identity Management infrastructure used by our E-Business Suite system later this year.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on July 13, 2006 at 01:16 AM PDT #

Kevin,There are several hundred staff in our Apps IT department, but I don't know the distribution between functional and sysadmin/DBA staff. I personally work with a senior director who's involved in E-Business Suite architecture (e.g. planning SSO or multiple web-entry point deployments) and upgrades (e.g. moving up to the latest version of Discoverer, the 10gR2 RAC database or OracleAS 10g).  This director has around 30 DBAs in his team, spread across multiple timezones and geographic locations.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on July 13, 2006 at 01:25 AM PDT #

Is Oracle Metalink using Oracle Service and is this reflected in the diagram?

Are the OID/SSO servers used for OTN access in the diagram?

Posted by Question on July 13, 2006 at 01:41 AM PDT #

Interesting. Thanks.

I wonder how many support staff for that instance? ;-) sysadmins / apps dbas / etc

Posted by Kevin on July 13, 2006 at 02:00 AM PDT #

Our Metalink team has confirmed that we don't use Oracle Service yet.  The consolidation of Metalink's user authentication to our corporate SSO system is planned.Regards,Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on July 19, 2006 at 04:19 AM PDT #

Approximately 900 people support the Oracle Applications instances; remember that this is not just the production system. Oracle has 10+ development / testing copies of the database and app servers.Metalink is not supported by the same department, it is looked after by GIT (Global Information Technology)[EDITOR UPDATE:  One of the Oracle AppsIT managers indicates that the estimate cited here is inaccurate.  No accurate estimates were made available for public posting.]

Posted by Matt on July 29, 2006 at 04:09 AM PDT #

Matt,This number seems rather high to me -- it certainly far exceeds the number of people who even report to Bret Fuller, who manages the group.  I'll validate see if I can validate this and provide an update here.UPDATE:  One of the AppsIT managers indicates that the estimate cited above is inaccurate.  No accurate estimates were made available for public posting.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on July 31, 2006 at 01:15 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,

I came across some of the automation tools that are useful in migrating to GSI architecture .My question is where from i can find oracle supported third party tools that can be used in such migration projects.

Thanks in advance

Posted by Sravan Srinivas on August 02, 2008 at 08:44 PM PDT #

Hi, Sravan,

I've discussed our policy towards the use of third-party software in this article:

This article applies to migration automation tools, as well.

Good luck with your migration.


Posted by Steven Chan on August 04, 2008 at 02:32 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,

Excellent piece of information. Thanks for the one.

I would appreciate if you can share the challenges faced during this rollout from the technical as well functional point of view.
Please point out if there are some documents available, which discuss about the advantages and challenges as well as questions to be asked for kind of rollout.

Thanks and Best Regards,

Posted by Mukesh on March 15, 2009 at 03:32 AM PDT #

Hi, Mukesh,

The Oracle Apps IT team has revisited their presentation and has provided many more notes about their experiences here:

Case Study Redux: Oracle's Own Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 Upgrade (OpenWorld 2008 Recap) -


Posted by Steven Chan on March 18, 2009 at 03:56 AM PDT #


Did any of the 70 instances that Oracle consolidatedinto 1 GSI consist of HRMS or were all the 70 instances , Oracle Financials only ?


Posted by John on March 31, 2010 at 11:40 PM PDT #

Hi, John,

There were a variety of EBS products used, including both Financials and HRMS.


Posted by Steven Chan on April 01, 2010 at 06:01 AM PDT #

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