Wednesday May 10, 2006

In-Depth: Cloning OracleAS 10g + E-Business Suite Environments

As much as I'd prefer to avoid the subject, it's time to turn to address a subject of much ongoing controversy, namely cloning.  Cloning an E-Business Suite environment is easy. Cloning an E-Business Suite environment that's been integrated with Oracle Application Server 10g is not quite as easy, unfortunately.

What's Cloning?

Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of an already existing Oracle Applications system, including both the application-tier and database-tier.

Why Clone?

Reasons for cloning E-Business Suite environments include:
  • Creating a copy of the production system for testing updates
  • Migrating an existing system to new hardware
  • Creating a stage area to reduce patching downtime
One of our more risk-averse customers informed me that they may create up to 15 clones of an E-Business Suite environment between the TEST and PRODUCTION rollout phases.

The Easy Part

The E-Business Suite Release 11i was architected to support cloning.  Experienced Apps DBAs know that the easiest way to create clones of their environments is to use the Rapid Clone utility introduced in 11.5.8.  Creating a n E-Business Suite clone is as simple as copying your application-tier and database-tier files to the new target system and then running the perl-based Rapid Clone ( utility. 

The Not-So Easy Part

Oracle Application Server 10g was designed with different goals in mind.  Consequently, there are no Oracle tools available today to clone an entire OracleAS 10g environment in a single step.  In other words, OracleAS 10g does not have the equivalent of a Rapid Clone utility.

In the absence of a single turnkey tool like Rapid Clone, creating clones of new OracleAS 10g environments is a more involved process.  Not impossible, mind you -- but definitely more involved.

Things get even more complicated when an E-Business Suite environment is integrated with Oracle Application Server 10g

Nothing But Net

There are neither tools nor formal documents available from my group -- the Applications Technology Group -- or from Application Server Development, for cloning E-Business Suite environments that have been integrated with OracleAS 10g.

This hasn't exactly been a pleasant state of affairs, especially if you happen to be the person responsible for telling customers about the absence of this documentation and tools.  No matter -- I'm tough; I can take it.

But seriously, aside from this post, which will attempt to lay out general strategies for how you can fill in the gaps yourself through some old-fashioned elbow grease, there are no tools available to meet your comprehensive cloning requirements for combined OracleAS 10g + E-Business Suite environments today.  More on our future plans in a minute.

Warning:  Trail Ahead Requires Exploration

If you're willing to experiment a bit, the following are general guidelines to point you in the right direction.  Some customers and Oracle Consultants have used the following approaches to get the job done but have reported that there was some trial-and-error involved. 

These are neither detailed nor comprehensive instructions.  The following should be attempted only by system administrators who have a solid understanding of the principles outlined in Metalink Note 261914.1.

If you're going to experiment with these approaches, I strongly recommend that you take all sensible precautions, including backing up your environments at multiple stages, taking careful notes, and doing things in small, incremental steps to control your risk.

Cloning Scenarios

Assuming that you have an E-Business Suite environment that's been successfully integrated with OracleAS 10g, here are a few cloning scenarios that may apply to you:
  1. Create a clone of your Discoverer environment

  2. Create a clone of your Single Sign-On / Oracle Internet Directory environment
  3. Create a clone of your Portal environment 
Creating a Clone of Your Discoverer 10g Environment

If you've integrated Discoverer 10g with your E-Business Suite environment but have not chosen the Single Sign-On option, then the cloning process is relatively painless:
  1. Use Rapid Clone to create a clone of your E-Business Suite, including the application-tier and database-tier.  Remember that the E-Business Suite database already contains the Discoverer 10g End-User Layer.
  2. Create a fresh install of Discoverer 10g on your new server and point it to the End-User Layer in the cloned E-Business Suite instance.
Creating a Clone of Your Single Sign-On / Oracle Internet Directory Environment

If you've integrated Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory 10g with your E-Business Suite environment, do the following:
  1. Use Rapid Clone to create a clone of your E-Business Suite, including the application-tier and database-tier.
  2. In your newly-cloned E-Business Suite instance, set the APPS_SSO_LDAP_SYNC profile option to "Disabled" at the site level (since there's no new Oracle Internet Directory instance to synchronize with yet).

  3. In your newly-cloned E-Business Suite instance, unlink all E-Business Suite users that were linked to the original Oracle Internet Directory 10g users (i.e. where FND_USER.USER_GUID is populated), since the those old links are no longer valid.  Those E-Business Suite users will need to be linked to their corresponding accounts in the as-yet non-existent new Oracle Internet Directory instance. 

  4. Create a fresh install of Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory 10g on your new server.
  5. Assuming that you enabled bidirectional provisioning between the E-Business Suite and Oracle Internet Directory, do one of the following (but not all three):

    a) Redo your bulkload from the E-Business Suite into Oracle Internet Directory, reregister your E-Business Suite environment using the Bidirectional Provisioning Profile, and enable the APPS_SSO_AUTO_LINK_USER profile option, and set the profile option APPS_SSO_LDAP_SYNC back to Enabled at site level.

    b) Export your LDAP namespace from your original Oracle Internet Directory instance into an LDIF file, and then import the LDIF file into the new Oracle Internet Directory instance.  Reregister your E-Business Suite environment using the Bidirectional Provisioning Profile, and (assuming that the Oracle Internet Directory accounts are identical to the E-Business Suite accounts) enable the APPS_SSO_AUTO_LINK_USER profile option, and set the profile option APPS_SSO_LDAP_SYNC back to Enabled at site level.

    c) Connect the original Oracle Internet Directory instance to your new Oracle Internet Directory instance via a connector, synchronizing the namespaces.  Reregister your E-Business Suite environment using the Bidirectional Provisioning Profile, and (assuming that the Oracle Internet Directory accounts are identical to the E-Business Suite accounts) enable the APPS_SSO_AUTO_LINK_USER profile option, and set the profile option APPS_SSO_LDAP_SYNC back to Enabled at site level.
Creating a Clone of Your Portal Environment
  1. Portal requires a working Single Sign-On setup, so complete the previous section first.
  2. If you haven't already done so, create a fresh install of Portal 10g on your new server.

  3. Use the existing Portal 10g documentation to export your portal content and metadata from the original Portal instance.  Import that content into the new Portal 10g instance.
  4. Reregister the OAF Web Provider from your new E-Business Suite instance in your new Portal instance.
Other Alternatives To Exploring On Your Own

If you found the previous sections alarming and confusing, there are a few options:
  1. Hire an experienced consultant.  Check their references!  You don't want to pay someone for the privilege of training them -- including staff from Oracle Consulting.  There are some Oracle Consultants with experience in this area; email me if you'd like some contacts within Oracle.
  2. Wait for the formal documentation from the Applications Technology Group.  Be prepared to wait for a while, however.  A project proposal has been submitted for review but it has not been accepted or prioritized yet.  I'm continuing to press for the priority of this to be raised.  At present, there are no fixed schedules for this documentation yet.
Good luck... and remember to take frequent backups.

Tuesday May 09, 2006

In-Depth: Using Portal 10g with the E-Business Suite

Continuing our series on how E-Business Suite users can take advantage of Oracle Application Server 10g components, today we're going to cover the use of Oracle Portal 10g (

The Basics:  Portal Pages and EBS Product Portlets

Portal 10g is Oracle's enterprise portal product, allowing users to create web sites that consolidate and publish information from a variety of sources.  Oracle's corporate website is built with Portal:

Portal 10g Screenshot:

Portal users can access the E-Business Suite via the Application Navigator, a small portlet that displays a hierarchical menu of an authenticated user's Applications Responsibilities and their associated menu items.  Here's a screenshot of the Applications Navigator:

Applications Navigator Portlet 11i:

And, since we've been running a few sneak previews for the new Release 12 user interface, here's a screenshot of the draft Release 12 equivalent, with Applications Favorites portlet thrown in at no extra charge:

Applications Navigator Portlet R12:

The Applications Navigator portlet's menu is user-specific:  only the responsibilities that the user is authorized [link] for are displayed, so every user will see a different menu.  The Navigator menu provide access to all E-Business Suite content, including Self-Service web-based applications like iExpenses, as well as Forms and Discoverer workbooks.

Other portlets are available for:
  • Application Favorites  A list of bookmarked links to specific E-Business Suite screens
  • Applications Worklist  A list of the user's Workflow Notifications
  • Balanced Scorecard  Graphical and tabular key performance indicators based on E-Business Suite data
E-Business Suite Portlets and Third-Party Portals

Many of you already have corporate portal systems in place, such as Plumtree, WebSphere, and Tibco.  Unfortunately, it's not possible to plug E-Business Suite Release 11i portlets into those third-party portals; they're written specifically for Oracle Portal 10g.

There's promising news on the horizon, though.  We're in the process of redesigning the E-Business Suite web provider (more on that below) to meet the JSR-168 / WSRP standards, so it's possible that you'll be able to plug Release 12 portlets into third-party portals.

What's Required to Do This?

You need to do the following to use Portal with the E-Business Suite:
  1. Integrate the E-Business Suite with Single Sign-On 10g (this is a mandatory prerequisite)

  2. Install the E-Business Suite Oracle Applications Framework Web Provider in your E-Business Suite environment

  3. Register the E-Business Suite Web Provider in your Portal environment

  4. Build a custom portal page that displays the E-Business Suite portlets of your choice
How Does the Integration Work?

Individual E-Business Suite applications such as Balanced Scorecard write portlets to expose their data in Portal.  These portlets communicate with Portal via the Oracle Applications Framework (OAF) web provider, a small E-Business Suite technology stack plug-in that handles user session management and transmission of portal content on-demand.  

A Flurry of Activity

Here's what happens behind the scenes to produce a portal page containing an E-Business Suite portlet:

An end-user navigates to Portal.  If the user isn't already logged in, she's redirected to Single Sign-On, where she's logged in.  Once properly authenticated, she's redirected back to Portal.  

The Portal Parallel Page Engine (PPE) begins assembling the home page that the user will eventually see, dispatching requests to the various sources for the latest office gossip, stock quotes, Discoverer workbook portlets, and so on.  

Portal 10g Flow:

Portal notes that the end-user's home page includes the Applications Navigator.  Portal calls the OAF web provider, requesting the data for that portlet.  

The OAF web provider looks up the user's authorization and then passes control to the portlet code that actually retrieves the data from the E-Business Suite database.  That data is sent back to Portal, which renders the portlet according to wrapper information provided by the OAF web provider.

Upgrading From Previous Portal Versions

If you're a current Portal 3.0.9 user worried about its impending desupport later this year, you'll want to start thinking about the amount of data that you want to migrate from your existing environment to Portal 10g.

There is a somewhat baroque way of upgrading from that version to Portal 10g (, but reports from system administrators suggest that this isn't exactly a picnic:

Portal Upgrade Paths:

If you only have a small amount of existing Portal 3.0.9 content, it may be faster for you to just manually recreate it in Portal 10g, rather than going through the formal Portal upgrade process.  For full details about upgrading between Portal versions, see the Oracle Portal Upgrade site.

Certification with Portal 10.1.4

The latest version of Portal 10g available at the time of this post is Portal 10.1.4.  This version is still being certified with the E-Business Suite.  We expect (and fervently hope) that this version will be certified Real Soon Now... feel free to subscribe to this blog to get email updates when that certification is released.

Related Articles:

Monday May 01, 2006

In-Depth: Using OracleAS 10g with E-Business Suite Release 11

Editor Jan. 12, 2007 Update:  Oracle Identity Management 10g is now certified with the E-Business Suite. 

As promised earlier, this post represents the first of a series of in-depth discussions on using OracleAS 10g with the E-Business Suite Release 11.

It is now possible to integrate the E-Business Suite Release 11i with OracleAS 10g, for the use of Single Sign-On, Oracle Internet Directory, Portal, Discoverer, Web Cache and Oracle Integration.

Integrated, Not Upgraded

The key concept is that Release 11i may be integrated with OracleAS 10g.  The existing E-Business Suite application server, Oracle9i Application Server, is not upgraded to OracleAS 10g; the two instances are integrated together in a loosely-coupled architecture like this:

Simple OracleAS 10g + E-Business Suite Architecture:

Remember that if you want to upgrade your existing E-Business Suite 9iAS application server to OracleAS 10g, you'll be able to do that in Release 12.  For Release 11i, it's always going to be an integration-based architecture.

One Server or Two?

The diagram above shows the existing E-Business Suite 9iAS services and the new external OracleAS 10g services running on two different physical servers.  That's our recommended configuration, particularly if you're planning to upgrade from Discoverer 4i to 10g (due to the former's obsolescence in Oct 2006).

It's possible to install OracleAS 10g on the same physical server where 9iAS is installed... if you have sufficient resources available on that box.  You must install OracleAS 10g in a separate ORACLE_HOME.  OracleAS 10g cannot be installed into the existing E-Business Suite 9iAS ORACLE_HOME.

What Are The Main OracleAS 10g Components?

This is something new to E-Business Suite sysadmins, so you may have to review this a few times to let it sink in.

Architecturally, you should think of OracleAS 10g as being comprised of middle-tier (application tier) products and infrastructure services.  Middle-tier products include Portal, Discoverer, and Oracle Integration.

The OracleAS 10g Infrastructure includes Single Sign-On, Oracle Internet Directory, and the actual LDAP database where user credentials are stored.  In general, all of the OracleAS 10g middle-tier products share the same OracleAS 10g Infrastructure.

Middle-tier products like Portal have content such as portal page definitions, pictures, downloadable files, and so on.  This content has metadata, too, which determines how content is displayed and accessed.  All of this product-specific content and metadata is stored in a database called the OracleAS 10g Metadata Repository.

Installing OracleAS 10g (Over and Over)

As you'd expect, there are several variants of how these components can be installed.  These variants are documented in excruciating detail in the OracleAS 10g Installation Guide for your operating system platform.  Arm yourself with coffee before reading the Installation Guide - it can be heavy going for a first-time reader.

In general, the first component to be installed is the OracleAS 10g Infrastructure.  If you're starting out simply (which I'd recommend), you can install the OracleAS 10g Metadata Repository at the same time, like this:

Simple OracleAS 10g Infrastructure:

Advanced sysadmins have the option of installing the Infrastructure and Metadata Repository in different places and on different servers, like this:

Split OracleAS 10g Infra + MR:

If all you're interested in using is Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory with the E-Business Suite, you're done on that front (for now). 

If you're interested in using Portal or other middle-tier components like Oracle Integration, you need to run the Oracle Unversal Installer and install those components separately.  As part of their installation, you'll need to point those components to the OracleAS 10g Infrastructure and OracleAS 10g Metadata Repository that you created earlier.

OracleAS 10g Runs Independently

Now that your OracleAS 10g environment is installed, you should test it to ensure that it runs without any issues.  You should be able to log in to this environment, create and modify users, start up Portal, create custom portal home pages, and so on. 

Connecting OracleAS 10g to the E-Business Suite

Once your OracleAS 10g instance is proven to be working, you will proceed with connecting it to your E-Business Suite environment.  Doing so will enable your E-Business Suite to use Single Sign-On, Portal, and Discoverer services running on the OracleAS 10g instance. 

I'll cover each of those options in subsequent "In-Depth" postings later this week.

Related Articles:

Monday Apr 17, 2006

Login Server and Portal 3.0.9 To Be Effectively Desupported... in Autumn 2006?

[Aug 3, 2007 Update:  That's it,

folks.  Portal 3.0.9 and Login Server 3.0.9 are now officially out of Premier Support.  For a final discussion about this, see this article.]

Continuing on our theme of recent E-Business Suite certifications and upcoming desupport notices, here's one with an unusual wrinkle:

Login Server 3.0.9 and Portal 3.0.9 have been desupported for years for general users, but like Discoverer 4i, E-Business Suite users have had a special exception to this.  This situation is changing:  both Login Server 3.0.9 and Portal 3.0.9 will be desupported for E-Business Suite users in July, 2007.

However, there's something on the horizon that may accelerate that desupport schedule.

Sun is tentatively planning a new release of their Java Standard Edition  (SE) 6; the beta is available now.  Sun's official support policy is that they support their latest three Java releases.  Once Java 6 is released, the latest three Java releases will be Java 6, Java 5, and Java 1.4.

This means that Sun will desupport Java 1.3 as soon as Java 6 is released.

Oracle Login Server 3.0.9 and Portal 3.0.9 require Java 1.3 as a prerequisite.  They have not been certified with later Java releases.  The implication is that Login Server 3.0.9 and Portal 3.0.9 will be effectively desupported as soon as Java 6 is released in Autumn, 2006.

In other words, Sun's desupport policy trumps Oracle's desupport policy.

My team is participating in efforts now to validate whether it is even technically feasible to certify Login Server 3.0.9 and Portal 3.0.9 with a later Java release.  This is a non-trivial task and may not be possible at all.

The safest thing for all E-Business Suite customers is to start planning your upgrades to Single Sign-On 10g and Portal 10g.  These products are bundled as part of Oracle Application Server 10g.  Judging from the experiences of our early adopters of this integration (more on that in future posts), some customers may find this to be a challenging upgrade.

I strongly recommend that you start your Oracle Application Server 10g impact assessment and upgrade planning now

Critical references for this are:



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