Wednesday Aug 19, 2009

Creating an EBS R12 Instance Using the Express Install Option

The Oracle E-Business Suite Rapid Install provides an easy-to-use Express Install option. This option sets default values for several of the customizable inputs that the Apps DBA must enter in subsequent screens. Express Install is convenient for test instance setup as well as for training purposes. Note that this option is valid only for new installations and cannot be used for upgrades.



How to Use Express Install?

Assuming that you have met all the prerequisites to perform a Rapid Install on your machine based on the platform specific installation guides, Express Install can be performed using rapidwiz. The inputs required to use Express install are:

1. Oracle Configuration Manager

    • Email ID and the My Oracle Support password
    • Check box indicating if you would like to receive Security Updates via My Oracle Support.


2. Configuration choice

Here you specify whether you would like to create a new configuration or use an existing configuration file that has been saved from a previous run of rapidwiz.


3. Node information (if you have chosen to create new configuration above)

Specify the following parameters:

  • Database Type (Fresh database or Vision)
  • Database SID
  • Domain name
  • Base directory for the installation (by default, entire install including APPL_TOP and DB is placed in this directory)
  • Instance directory (default value is <base directory>/inst )
  • Port pool


That's it!  After making sure that the System Checks all pass in the Preinstall Checks window that follows, you are ready to perform an Express Install.  After this, the installation proceeds requiring no human intervention.  Upon completion of the install, you are ready to use the EBS instance.

Can it get any easier?


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Thursday Aug 13, 2009

Recommended Database Parameters Updated for EBS 11i

Experienced Apps DBAs know that there are often compelling reasons to tweak the E-Business Suite's database initialization parameters from the defaults.  The master source-of-truth for whether certain parameter settings will help or hurt your EBS environment performance is published here:

Our EBS database architects have just released an updated version of that Note.  Recent updates over the last month include a number of important changes and additions to our recommendations for:

  • Database parameters that should be removed for 10gR2 (10.2.x) databases
  • Database parameters that should be removed for 11gR1 (11.1.x) databases
  • Advanced Queuing (AQ) additions to 10gR1, 10gR2, and 11gR1 recommendations
  • Database initialization parameter sizing recommendations for processes, sessions, db_block_buffers, db_cache_size, sga_target, undo_retention, shared_pool_*, pga_aggregate_target, and total memory required for different numbers of concurrent users
  • New links to related documents

One of our architects wryly observed that this relatively-short list of changes belies the actual importance and impact of the changes to our recommendations. 

Don't be fooled -- these changes are extremely important and can have profound impact on the performance of your Apps database.  All Apps DBAs should spend some quality time comparing your current database settings with the latest recommendations in this document.

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Wednesday Aug 12, 2009

Confused About E-Business Server vs. Desktop Operating System Certifications?

The E-Business Suite is designed to support a three-tier architecture, with functions running on a client tier, an application server tier (also called a middle tier), and a database tier.  I handled a customer question on an internal Oracle mailing list today that suggested that there was confusion about our certification policies for these tiers.  I then realized that I've answered variants of this question many times lately, so it's clearly of broader interest. 

These two questions are mirror images of each other:
  • Can I install the E-Business Suite on a desktop operating system like Windows Vista?
  • Can I run end-user E-Business Suite functions on a server operating system like Oracle Enterprise Linux?
Certifying End-User Functions on Desktop Operating Systems

The first guiding principle is that we certify E-Business Suite end-user client functions on end-user desktop operating systems.  Examples of EBS end-user client functions include:
  • Accessing web-based Self-Service applications from browsers
  • Running Forms-based applications under the native Sun JRE plug-in.
The certified end-user desktop operating systems are:
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Mac OS X
We intend to certify Microsoft Windows 7 and Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) desktop operating systems to run EBS end-user client functions in the future.  I can't discuss schedules for these certifications, but you're welcome to monitor or subscribe to this blog for updates.  

We have no current plans to certify Linux desktop operating systems (e.g. Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, etc) to run E-Business Suite end-user client functions.

Certifying Server-Based Components on Server Operating Systems
The second guiding principle is that we certify E-Business Suite's server-based components on server-based operating systems.  Server-based components are designed to run on application tier servers and database tier servers.  Server-based components include the Oracle Database, Oracle Forms, JServ, OC4J, and so on.

Server-based operating systems include:
  • Microsoft Windows Server
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux
  • Sun Solaris
  • IBM Linux on System z
  • IBM Linux on POWER
  • HP-UX
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)
Mixing and Matching Server vs. Desktop Certifications

We have no plans to certify E-Business Suite end-user client-based functions on server operating systems. 
Likewise, we also have no plans to certify E-Business Suite database or application-tier server components on end-user desktop operating systems. 

Security Implications of Running Something on the Wrong Platform
The security implications of running the wrong thing on the wrong platform must be considered.  Today's question from a customer asked whether it's possible to run the E-Business Suite's end-user functions from geographically-distributed machines running Windows Server. 

Now, I'm assuming that those distributed machines are acting as real servers running mission-critical multi-user applications.  If I were a security administrator, I wouldn't want an end-user to use that server to do email, surf the web, or run other end-user applications.  Given the propensity of end-users to click on suspicious email attachments, hit questionable websites, and install dodgy P2P apps, that's a good way of contaminating the server and breaching security.  I can't think of any scenario where this would be a good idea.

Support Implications of Running Something on the Wrong Platform

We can't prevent customers from doing dangerous things with machines connecting to the E-Business Suite.  I'm reminded of Robin Williams' piece on unarmed bobbies in the UK: "Stop, or I'll yell, 'Stop' again!"  [No, no, I'm not making any statements about gun control either way, I'm just underlining Oracle's lack of omnipotence.]

What we can do is ensure that you get fixes for issues that occur on the tiers on which EBS components were designed to run. 

From a support perspective, we can produce E-Business Suite patches only for end-user client issues that can be reproduced on a certified desktop operating system configuration.

Likewise, we can produce E-Business Suite patches only for server-based component issues that can be reproduced on a certified server operating system.

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Friday Aug 07, 2009

Oracle Universal Installer Inventory Essentials for Apps Sysadmins

We see quite a few Service Requests (SRs) where E-Business Suite customers have gotten into difficulty with the Oracle Universal Installer (OUI) Inventory.  It's important to note the Oracle Universal Installer Inventory has nothing to do with the Oracle E-Business Suite Inventory product (product code INV).

Screenshot of generic Oracle Universal Installer dialog box

The Oracle Universal Installer Inventory is a component of the OUI and creates a record of the Oracle homes, products and patches you have installed on a node. Whilst it's not part of the E-Business Suite, as an Applications DBA it's inevitable that sooner or later you will have to look after the Inventory. This article will focus on issues relating to the OUI Inventory specifically within the context of Oracle Applications.

An Overview of the OUI Inventory

The Oracle Universal Installer Inventory comprises three main components:

  • The Pointer File
  • The Central (Global) Inventory
  • The Home (Local) Inventory

Central Inventory and Home Inventory are the official names, however, almost everybody talks about the Global and Local Inventory so it's useful to mention this now as the terms are often used interchangeably.

The Pointer File, created or referenced when running the OUI or rapidwiz, is called oraInst.loc and is used to either locate an existing Central Inventory or tell OUI where to create a new Central Inventory. It's a simple text file, stored, by default, in a system directory. In the Microsoft Windows environment it is stored in the registry key \\HKLM\Software\Oracle\INST_LOC.

The Central Inventory records details of Oracle homes installed on a node. A single node might contain one Central Inventory with details of all Oracle homes on that node, or a single node might contain multiple Central Inventories each one containing details of a single Oracle home.

The Home Inventory is specific to, and contained within each Oracle home, and contains details of patches or updates applied to that specific Oracle home.

This article will concentrate on the Central Inventory as, generally speaking, the Home Inventory looks after itself.

Central Inventory Differences Between Apps 11i and R12

In Apps 11i, the default action was to use a single Central Inventory -- that is, one Central Inventory per node -- which recorded all Oracle homes installed on that node. The Central Inventory Pointer File was stored in a system directory to which you had to have write access. This was why during an EBS 11i installation, or when cloning to a new node, you would be prompted to run scripts as the root user before you could complete your installation or clone. If you had multiple 11i installations on a node, these would generally all be recorded in the same Central Inventory.

In Apps R12, things have changed. If rapidwiz is not able to automatically create a Pointer File in the default system directory, it will create multiple Central Inventories and multiple Pointer Files. Instead of prompting to run a script as the root user, a separate Central Inventory and Pointer File will be created in each Oracle home created on the node.

Things have the potential to get complicated when you have multiple Oracle Applications installations on a single node, or where 11i and R12 installations are both installed on the same node. Start cloning to and from this same node and soon you may be forced to pay attention to the Inventory.

How EBS Creates and Updates the OUI Inventory

Here are a couple of typical examples of how the OUI Inventory is configured during an Oracle Applications installation.

Scenario 1: Upgrading Apps 11i to 12 creates multiple Pointer Files and Central Inventories

A typical scenario might be that you have an 11i test environment installed on your node. You plan to upgrade sometime soon and wish to install a simple R12 test environment on the same node.

By default, the operating system user installing R12 will probably not have permission to update the Central Inventory created by the previous 11i installation. In this case, multiple additional Pointer Files and Central Inventories are created within the new R12 Oracle homes. This in itself is not a problem but it is important that you understand that this may be what is happening.

Scenario 2: Upgrading Apps 11i to 12 updates the Global Inventory

Using the same starting scenario as above, if your R12 operating system user has write access to the Global Inventory created by 11i, then rapidwiz will update that Global Inventory with details of the new Oracle homes installed. Again, this is not a problem, but it is important that you are aware of what is happening.

When multiple Central Inventories exist, you must to be aware of this, as the correct Pointer File will need to be specified when maintaining the Oracle homes to maintain the correct Central Inventory.

Updating the Inventory When Removing an 11i or R12 environment

With the potential for single or multiple Global Inventories being created or updated, it’s important that when you delete an Oracle Applications environment from a machine, you make sure its corresponding Global Inventory entry is also updated correctly.

If your node is using a single Global Inventory and you wish to delete an Oracle Applications environment, it is not enough to just shut down the database and all the services and delete the software. This will leave a record of the installation in the Global Inventory.

To completely remove an installation, you must run OUI and use the graphical interface or the OUI command line to update the Global Inventory to record that the installation has been removed. If this is not done, then the Global Inventory retains a record of an environment that no longer exists on the node.

If you were to then perform a new installation or clone to that node at the same location as the previously removed installation, there would be a failure to correctly register the new installation. This could easily create an Oracle Applications installation which does not work correctly, or has links to non-existent locations. You might also have problems upgrading the technology stack or applying patches to this environment at a later date.

Tools for Managing the Inventory

Fortunately, there are various tools that allow you to check the condition of the Global Inventory on a node:

  • The Opatch utility has some useful command line parameters which allow you to interrogate and report on the condition of the inventory.
  • OUI and OPatch also support the “invPtrLoc” parameter which allows you to specify the inventory Pointer File you wish to use when you install or patch a product.

If you encounter a situation where your Oracle home is not correctly recorded in a Global Inventory, it is also possible to create or update the Central Inventory. There are several notes (see links in the Reference section below), which explain how to create or update the Central Inventory. There is also a note on how to consolidate multiple Central Inventories on a node into a single Central Inventory.

There is sometimes the temptation to manually edit the XML files that make up the Central or Home Inventory. Don't give in to temptation. The OUI Inventory should only be updated via Oracle tools such as the Oracle Universal Installer itself, the Rapid Install (rapidwiz), Opatch, and RapidClone.

Checking the OUI Inventory Log Files

During an installation or clone of Oracle Applications, the inventory creation or updating process is recorded in the log file called ohclone.log. The ohclone.log file will tell you if any aspect of the registration process has failed. You should always check this (and other log files) as part of your installation or cloning process.

Four Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Inventory

If you spend a lot of time installing and removing Oracle Applications environments and and have not really thought about the inventory in the past, you should keep the following in mind:

  1. Always deinstall the Oracle Applications technology stack using the OUI before deleting the software.
  2. Always check the ohclone.log after an installation or clone.
  3. If you know how your OUI Inventory is currently arranged, you should be fine. If you don’t, you should take a little time to familiarise yourself with the setup.
  4. Do not try to manually edit files that make up the Global or Local Inventory.


Tuesday Aug 04, 2009

Is It Safe to Use SANs for EBS R12 Instance Tops?

Our documentation about sharing filesystems between multiple Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 application servers recommends that you install the Instance Top (INST_TOP) on a local filesystem. This has prompted an interesting discussion about whether this is really mandatory, or whether it's technically feasible to put the Instance Top on, say, a dedicated fibre-attached SAN. 

Release 12 shared filesystem:

Our guidance on the INST_TOP being installed on a local file system is based on three major considerations:

  1. Separation of duties and security implications
  2. Impact of SAN performance on Apache
  3. Additional troubleshooting complexity

1. Separation of Duties & Security Implications

Our recommended configuration allows for different file system privileges and ownership between the Instance Top (INST_TOP) and the Code Top (ORACLE_HOMEs & APPL_TOP). This allows for the segregation of duties between administrators for the respective servers. Patching can be done on the Code Top by central system administrators who own the central shared portion of the file system. Instance Tops can be owned by instance sysadmins, who usually already own the CPU box with local storage.

Some instance-specific, run-time-generated files (e.g. reports, temp files) can include unencrypted data. Contrast those with database files (DBFs), which can be self-encrypted or contain encrypted data. Even with encrypted file system solution in place, there is less depth in defenses around some of the INST_TOP files.

2. Impact of SAN Performance on Apache

Apache performance is highly sensitive to mutex file access latency, and at higher loads is also sensitive to I/Os per second.  We tried using a central SAN for INST_TOPs in our internal EBS development environments but found the performance to be unacceptable.  However, not all SANs are created equal, and depending on the SAN, it might be good for even production use.

A very good article on this point is available from the SQLTeam web site:

3. Additional Troubleshooting Complexity

A network storage access problem can have a spectrum of symptoms, including performance slow downs and even as intermittent end-user session failures. Some of the affected code paths were made more resilient over the years, but we still prefer to err on the side of prudence and not potentially cause these (hard to diagnose) problems.

Your Mileage May Vary

All that said, you might decide that your testing of SAN performance demonstrates that its latency and I/O transaction throughput are good enough for your requirements. 

Our Support and Development teams will attempt to reproduce any reported issues in a multinode environment where the INST_TOPs are stored on a local filesystem.  If the issues are isolated to the external placement of the Instance Tops, our recommendations would be to either revert back to local storage, or to work with your SAN vendor to optimize the SAN's performance.


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Wednesday Jul 08, 2009

Choosing a Shared File System for Oracle E-Business Suite

[Mar. 5, 2015 Update:  OCFS2 is not certified for EBS 12.2 shared file system configurations yet. This certification is underway. Customers should use alternative file systems until this certification is completed.]

[March 18, 2013 Update: Added ACFS information captured in the comments to the article body]

[March 10, 2010 Update:  OCFS2 for Linux is now certified for EBS 12 application tier servers; see this article for details.]

It's possible to scale up your E-Business Suite environment with multiple application tier servers to improve fault tolerance and performance.  It's also possible to share a single filesystem between them: all application tier files are installed on a single shared disk resource that's mounted from each application tier node.  In Release 12.1, that would look like this:

Release 12 shared filesystem:

This allows you to apply patches once to the central filesystem, rather than maintaining each application tier server node individually.  We recommend this approach; it reduces maintenance overheads for those multiple servers and shortens your patching downtimes. 

Beginning with Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, we also allow you to share an applications tier file system between multiple E-Business Suite database instances, too. For more details about this advanced option, see this article.

Customers embarking upon this path inevitably ask, "Which shared filesystem do you recommend?"  The short answer is that we don't recommend any specific filesystem, but there's more to it than just that.

Does Oracle Certify Storage Systems?

Not any more.  Our Server Technologies division used to run an Oracle Storage Compatibility Program (OSCP) to validate specialized storage products.  At one time, Oracle and its partners worked together to validate specialized storage technology including NFS file servers, remote mirroring, and snapshot products.  The storage industry matured over time, and this program was ended in January, 2007. 

The successor to this program is the Oracle Certification Environment (OCE) group.  This group provides resources for third-party vendors to certify their own products with Oracle technology.  The OCE team works with Oracle Partner Management and third party vendors for approving support statements published by third party vendors with respect to certification projects with Oracle.

It's important to note that these certifications are performed by the third-party vendors themselves and not the E-Business Suite Development division.  Certification statements made by third-party vendors partnering with the Oracle Certification Environment group are not reviewed or endorsed by the E-Business Suite division.  

Does the E-Business Suite Division Certify Storage Systems?

No, I'm afraid not.  EBS Development doesn't have the resources to certify or compare even a subset of the leading filesystems.  Since we don't have hands-on experience with different filesystems in a controlled test environment, we can't make any informed recommendations for a given product.  We generally suggest that customers either perform their own product testing or consult a trusted consultancy that compares the relative merits of each product against a consistent set of criteria.

What are the EBS Requirements for a Shared Filesystem?

Shared filesystems must be transparent to the calling application, in this case, the E-Business Suite.  In other words, no modifications to the E-Business Suite should be necessary to ensure compatibility with the shared filesystem.

Our Frequently Asked Questions: Sharing the Application Tier File System in Oracle Applications 11i (Note 243880.1) states:

... your shared application tier file system can reside on any type of shared disk resource. Examples of shared disk resources include an NFS mounted disk or a disk array. The shared disk resource does not have to be local to the machine, and it can also be a standalone disk array. Usual tuning considerations apply.

The same thing applies to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, too.

What About OCFS2 or GFS?

There are many different shared filesystems out there, too many to list here.  The general statements about EBS requirements for a shared filesystem above apply to all third-party file system products.

However, we get a lot of questions about three specific products due to their close relationship and packaging with Oracle's own operating system releases:

Here's the E-Business Suite position on these three shared file systems:

Oracle Clustered File System (OCFS2)

The E-Business Suite's database tier is built on the Oracle Database.  The Oracle Database is certified with OCFS2.   Therefore, OCFS2 is supported for the E-Business Suite database tier, too. 

The E-Business Suite's application tier is built on Oracle Application Server.  Oracle Application Server is not yet certified to run on OCFS2. 

If our Fusion Middleware group ever certifies Oracle9i Application Server (used by Apps 11i) or Oracle Application Server 10g (used by Apps 12) to run on OCFS2, then the E-Business Suite's application tier will be certified on that file system. 

Red Hat Global File System (GFS)

Specific versions of the Oracle Database are certified with GFS running on specific Red Hat and Oracle Enterprise Linux releases.   Therefore, those GFS combinations are supported for the E-Business Suite database tier, too.

Sadly, I haven't been able to locate any externally-published statements about Oracle Application Server compatibility with GFS.  This usually means that these two products haven't been tested together.  If you want an explicit statement of support for GFS for Fusion Middleware products, your best bet would be to log a Service Request against the Oracle Application Server product in question.

Back to the database and GFS:  there are some special support provisions for this database configuration.  See the "Support Process for GFS 6.0 and 6.1" section of Using Redhat Global File System (GFS) as shared storage for RAC (Note 329530.1), which states:

Oracle's product support teams will not take support calls on Red Hat GFS. All issues known to be related to Red Hat GFS must be opened with Red Hat directly. When an Oracle SR is opened for an Oracle product or a Red Hat Enterprise Linux issue in a configuration that includes GFS, Oracle Support will do their best effort to determine if the issue is GFS software related. In that case, Oracle will hand-off the GFS related issue to Red Hat Support.

It's important to note that the E-Business Suite division does not test the E-Business Suite with GFS. We haven't performed any certification or compatibility tests with that filesystem and don't have any empirical data about how well this particular combination will work.

Oracle ASM Clustered File System (ACFS)

  1. The E-Business Suite database tier is certified on ACFS.
  2. The E-Business Suite application tier is not certified on ACFS.

Most Oracle Database releases are certified to run on ACFS.  You can refer to the Certify database on My Oracle Support for the latest supported certifications. You can run EBS database servers for those certified combinations on ACFS.  

Amongst other things, EBS 11i uses Forms 6i, Oracle9i Application Server, and JServ on the application tier.  EBS 12.0, and 12.1 use Forms 10g, Oracle Application Server 10g, and OC4J on the application tier. on ACFS.  These Fusion Middleware product versions are not certified on ACFS.  There are no plans for those certifications.  Since the E-Business Suite depends on those products, EBS 11i, 12.0, and 12.1 application tiers cannot run on ACFS.

What Does EBS Development Use Internally?

We're in Development, not marketing, and we're expressly not able to endorse third-party products.  What we can do is give you a glimpse of what we use internally within Oracle for the E-Business Suite Development division.

At any given time we have hundreds of E-Business Suite environments running simultaneously within the EBS Development division.  These are centrally managed by our terrific EBS/Fusion Operations group.  This internal Oracle group has has created some really interesting infrastructure over the years.  One of the most useful custom solutions allows developers to get a new EBS environment on demand.  Shortly after their request, an automated process instantiates a new Apps environment and the developer is off to the races.

The underpinnings of this are Network File System (NFS) mounted filesystems running on NetApp.  Our Operations group has tested ZFS-based filers, which are also NFS-mounted filesystems.

In practical terms, this means that nearly all of our development, testing, and certification environments for the E-Business Suite are all running on NFS mounts.  We explicitly assume that our use of NFS generalizes to all shared file systems. 

What Does Oracle Use Internally for its Production Global Single Instance?

Our EBS development use of NFS is paralleled by Oracle's own global single instance deployment of Apps 12.  Our production EBS instance connects via Gigabit Ethernet to a shared NFS (NAS) NetApp FAS960 clustered storage system running NetApp 7.2.4. 

Our four production Sun F25K database servers are equipped with 44 dual core CPUs and over 176 GB RAM, Sun Solaris 9, Sun Cluster 3.1, and Veritas VxVM/VxFS 4.0* mp02.  Each of these database nodes has three GigE cards connecting them to the backend database storage, an EMC Symmetrix DMX3000 storage system.

Architecture diagram of Oracle's own global single instance EBS 12 deployment

Remember, this isn't an endorsement or a recommendation; it's merely a peek into what we use here internally at Oracle.


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Friday Jul 03, 2009

Comparisons of E-Business Suite Release 12 Rapid Install Techstacks

[Jul 6, 2009 Update: Database version for 12.0.4 Rapid install was, not Table corrected now.

A reader recently asked where she could find a summary of the E-Business Suite Release 12 technology stack components for different R12 releases.  As it turns out, there's a long answer to this deceptively-simple question.  This level of information is spread in a variety of release-specific Notes, making it tricky to compare which components were delivered as part of each Apps 12 Rapid Install. 

Here's a high-level architectural diagram showing an overview of the major techstack components in R12:

Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 architecture diagram showing three tier database application server client and major techstack components

It's possible to add on additional database options not shown above, including 11g Advanced Compression, 11g Advanced Security, and others. 

Here's a summary of the versions for the important major techstack components that were included in the Rapid Install footprints for Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12:

EBS Release 12 Rapid Install Version
12.0.0 12.0.4 12.1.1
OracleAS 10.1.2 Forms & Reports
OracleAS 10.1.3 OC4J
App Tier Java (JDK) 1.5.0_10 1.5.0_13 1.6.0_10
Desktop Client Java (JRE) 1.5.0_10-erdist 1.5.0_13 1.6.0_u10

The Case Against Finer-Grained Listings for Internal Components

The table above shows only the major internal components that Apps DBAs can upgrade themselves.  Individual upgrades for finer-grained components aren't required or recommended unless you're experiencing a particularly severe bug.  There are approximately 120 technology stack components in the E-Business Suite.  The fine-grained listings of these components are important to us in EBS Development, since we build the E-Business Suite on them, but they're mostly irrelevant to EBS sysadmins whose goal is maintaining their systems. 

For example, we track the versioning of individual application tier components like OJSP, Servlet, and SOAP separately from the overall Oracle Containers for Java (OC4J) component.  That doesn't affect your configuration management and operational plans, though.  An Apps sysadmin would simply install the latest certified Oracle Application Server 10g 10.1.3 update to get all of the latest 10.1.3 components bundled with that release.

Integrating EBS with External Oracle Products

Naturally, it's possible to integrate your EBS environment with a variety of other Oracle products.  These products can be running on external -- i.e. physically standalone -- servers or in a separate ORACLE_HOME on the same server where the E-Business Suite instance is installed. 

Commonly used external integrations are Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory, used respectively for integrating with existing corporate authentication systems like Windows Kerberos, and with existing LDAP directories like Microsoft Active Directory.  External certified product integrations for the E-Business Suite are summarized here.

Updating Individual EBS Components After a Rapid Install

Using Rapid Install to create your initial E-Business Suite environment is convenient, but new Apps DBAs should understand that this is a starting point.  Your journey doesn't end here -- it begins.  If you haven't already seen these two articles, they're mandatory reading for Apps DBAs:

We regularly release new certifications for EBS technology stack components.  Our certification announcements archive tells the tale.  Including incremental announcements for specific operating system platforms and special architectures, we released almost 40 new certifications for Apps 12 in 2008.  We're already up to 20 new certifications for 2009. 

You can keep up with the news about the latest certifications by monitoring or subscribing to this blog.  If you're looking for a one-page summary of all of the latest technology stack components certified with the E-Business Suite, bookmark this Certification Summary.

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Friday Jun 26, 2009

Roundup: Oracle JInitiator 1.3 Desupported for EBS Customers in July 2009

[June 29, 2009 Update: The July 2009 desupport date for JInitiator 1.3 applies to E-Business Suite customers only. Generic Oracle Forms customers should see Note 761159.1 for generic JInitiator desupport dates.]

We've covered the impending demise of JInitiator and the certification of the native Sun Java client in many articles already.  With the sun setting on Oracle Jinitiator next month, this is a good time to summarize the essentials about running Windows-based Java clients with the E-Business Suite:

  1. Sun's Java Runtime Engine (JRE) is certified with both EBS 11i and 12
  2. JInitiator 1.3 will be desupported for E-Business Suite customers at the end of July 2009
  3. JInitiator 1.1.8 was desupported at the end of December, 2008
  4. JInitiator cannot be run on Vista Desktops

If you haven't already started migrating your E-Business Suite end-users to the native Sun JRE plug-in, I'd strongly recommend that you begin this process immediately.

Sun Java Website screenshot Screencap of Sun's Java SE website

1. Sun's Java Runtime Engine (JRE) is Certified with EBS 11i & 12

Oracle JInitiator was originally released as a licenced version of Sun's Java client back when specific features were required to support Oracle Forms. This was particularly necessary for E-Business Suite Forms-based functionality, since the E-Business Suite pushed the envelope of what Forms and Java could do collectively from a user interface perspective.

Sun has since incorporated all of the enhancements needed to support Oracle Forms into their native Sun Java Runtime Engine plug-in. This eliminates the need for Oracle to package its own Java client just for running Oracle Forms-based applications. 

To convert your E-Business Suite environment from JInitiator to the native Sun Java plug-in, see:

Benefits of Switching to the Sun Java Client

The elimination of Oracle JInitiator simplifies your desktop administration environment.  Apps DBAs who have migrated their users to the native Sun JRE no longer have to struggle with compatibility and coexistence problems between JInitiator and other Java runtime clients on the same desktop.

Minimizing Risks of Switching from JInitiator to Sun Java Clients

The majority of customers switching from Oracle JInitiator to the Sun Java Runtime Engine have experienced minimal issues with this conversion.  However, some customers have reported problems, some rather painful.  Problems typically fall into the following categories:

  1. Missing prerequisite E-Business Suite patches or configuration steps
  2. Known issues, e.g. focus-related problems
  3. Conflicts with legacy Java-based application requirements

I strongly recommend a careful review of the Notes above, to ensure that you don't miss any prerequisites or configuration steps.  We document all of the known issues in the respective Notes for Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i and 12.  We also update our Notes regularly whenever we find new JRE-related compatibility issues with the E-Business Suite.

Some of you might have legacy Java-based applications that require earlier Java clients.  Those legacy applications might only be certified with an old Java release like 1.4.x, and will not work with later JRE releases such as 1.5 or 1.6.  Oracle doesn't have much guidance on third-party Java application compatibility, naturally, so your best option in those situations would be to lobby your legacy application vendor to upgrade their certifications to include the latest Java clients. 

Sun has changed the options for handling multiple Java plug-ins through their "Classic Java Plug-in" and "Next-generation Java Plug-in" technologies.  Handling your requirements for multiple Java plug-ins will vary based upon the JRE versions installed and your default corporate browsers.  If you have multiple Java clients installed on the same Windows desktop, I would strongly recommend that you review the "Static vs. Non-Static Versioning and Set-Up Options" appendices in either Note 290807.1 or 393931.1. 

If you're encountering issues with your EBS conversion to use the Sun Java client, you might find the following document useful:

Minimum JRE Versions Required for E-Business Suite

Apps 11i was originally certified with Oracle JInitiator to run Oracle Forms-based content.  Apps 11i is now certified with the native Sun Java Runtime Engine plug-in.  Apps 11i end-users can use JRE releases on either of the following version levels:

  • JRE 1.5.0_13 and higher
  • JRE 1.6.0_03 and higher

Apps 12 was certified only with the native Sun Java Runtime Engine.  Oracle JInitiator is not certified or supported with Apps 12.

EBS Compatibility and Support for Future JRE Releases

E-Business Suite end-users can upgrade their JRE clients whenever Sun releases a new JRE release on either the 1.5 or 1.6 versions.  EBS users do not need to wait for Oracle to certify new JRE 1.5 or 1.6 plug-in updates with the E-Business Suite.

2.  JInitiator 1.3 will be Desupported for E-Business Suite customers at the end of July 2009

JInitiator was the final certified version for Apps 11i.

Oracle JInitiator 1.3 was built on Sun's JDK 1.3.  Sun has long-since desupported JDK 1.3, so JInitiator 1.3 must be desupported, as well.  Oracle Forms Development has no plans to port JInitiator to JDK 1.4 or higher.

Support Implications for JInitiator Users

Here's what you can expect if you log an Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i Service Request against JInitiator after the respective dates shown above:

  1. Oracle Support will help you diagnose and isolate the root cause of any compatibility issues between JInitiator and the E-Business Suite.

  2. If there's a workaround or an existing Forms or JInitiator patch, Oracle Support will help you obtain the fix.

  3. If the issue requires a new Forms patch and can be reproduced using the native Sun JRE plug-in, a new bug will be logged against Oracle Forms.

  4. If the issue cannot be reproduced with the native Sun JRE client, no new Forms or JInitiator bugs will be logged.

3.  JInitiator 1.1.8 was desupported at the end of December, 2008

JInitiator was the final certified version for Apps 11i.

I know that some of you continue to run JInitiator 1.1.8 with your E-Business Suite Release 11i environments for legacy compatibility reasons.  I'm afraid that the time has come for you to retire JInitiator 1.1.8.  Error Correction Support for JInitiator 1.1.8 ended on December 31, 2008.  In other words, the Oracle Forms group will no longer issue bug fixes via new versions of JInitiator 1.1.8.x as of December 31, 2008.

The "Support Implications for JInitiator Users" section, above, applies equally to JInitiator 1.1.8, also.

By the way, Oracle Forms Development has (somewhat inexplicably) published Metalink Note 789049.1 indicating that JInitiator will be generically supported until March 29, 2010.  I can't say that I understand this, myself, but the December 2008 desupport notice for JInitiator 1.1.8 for Apps 11i clients is published in Note 472154.1.

4.  JInitiator cannot be run on Vista Desktops

It's not possible to run Oracle JInitiator 1.3 on Microsoft Vista.  Here's why:

  • Oracle JInitiator 1.3 is based on Sun's JDK 1.3
  • Sun's JDK 1.3 is incompatible with Vista.
  • Sun has desupported JDK 1.3, so they have no plans to make it Vista compatible
  • Therefore, JInitiator is fundamentally incompatible with Vista due to its JDK 1.3 dependencies

On Hacking Up JInitiator

Various creative individuals have discovered that it's possible to replace a certain DLL in Oracle JInitiator 1.3 with a JVM from, say, JDK 1.6.  I can't personally testify that these hacks work.  I can say that this kind of surgery makes me intensely uncomfortable.

While it's nice to see creative initiative, I have to remind you that Oracle would regard this as a customization.  We don't recommend customizing Oracle JInitiator for production environments.

What Happens When Something Goes Wrong?

If you do choose to customize Oracle JInitiator 1.3, you should consider the support implications for your users.  If you encounter any issues specific to your customized version of JInitiator, Oracle's default recommendation will be to use the native Sun JRE plug-in.

What Does Oracle Recommend for Vista?

We recommend using the native Sun Java plug-in for Vista client desktops connecting to either Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i or 12.  The native JRE client is the only certified and supported Java client for E-Business Suite desktops end-users running on Microsoft Windows Vista.

Getting Support from Oracle for Your Conversion

Naturally, we're very interested in helping you get through this upgrade process with a minimum of pain.  If you hit any problems with your conversion to the native Sun JRE plug-in, please log a formal Service Request via Metalink.  Our Support engineers will work with you on this, and also track the underlying issues to see whether changes to our documentation or patches are warranted.  If necessary, we'll work with Sun to get fixes prioritized for future JRE releases, too.

Given my position in Oracle Development and the visibility of this blog, I sometimes think that my perspective on customer deployments might be a little skewed.  This blog's readers tend to be seasoned and highly-skilled Apps sysadmins and Oracle DBAs.  

I'd appreciate your help in getting an accurate view of how these conversions are going for you. I'd be very interested in hearing about your experiences, good or bad.  What went well?  What went sideways?  Please feel free to sound off in the comments or drop me a private email with more details about your migration.

Related Articles

Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Which is Better: Forms Servlet or Socket Mode?

Many products within the Oracle E-Business Suite have screens that are built with Oracle Forms.  Oracle Forms can be run in either servlet mode or socket mode.  Apps 11i is based on Forms 6i and is configured to run in socket mode by default.  Apps 12 is based on Forms 10g and is configured to run in servlet mode by default. What are these modes, and which is better?

What is Forms Servlet Mode?

The Forms Listener Servlet is a Java servlet that delivers the ability to run Oracle Forms applications over HTTP and HTTPS connections. It manages the creation of a Forms Server Runtime process for each client, as well as network communications between the client and its associated Forms Server Runtime process.

The desktop client sends HTTP requests and receives HTTP responses from the web server. The HTTP Listener on the web server acts as the network endpoint for the client, keeping other servers and ports from being exposed at the firewall.

Forms listener servlet diagram showing firewalls desktop client and oc4j container on application tier

What is Forms Socket Mode?

Initial releases of the Oracle Forms Server product used a simple method for connecting the client to the server. The connection from the desktop client to the Forms Listener process was accomplished using a direct socket connection.  The direct socket connection mode was suitable for companies providing thin client access to Forms applications within their corporate local area networks. For the direct socket connection mode, the client had to be able to see the server and had to have permission to establish a direct network connection.

Although the direct socket connection mode is perfectly suited for deployments within a company’s internal network, it's not the best choice for application deployment via unsecured network paths via the Internet. A company connected to the Internet typically employs a strict policy defining the types of network connections that can be made by Internet clients to secure corporate networks. Permitting a direct socket connection from an external client exposes the company to potential risk because the true identity of the client can be hard to determine.

Servlet Mode Advantages

  1. HTTP and HTTPS traffic is easily recognizable by routers, while socket mode communications is generally considered suspect and treated on an exception basis. 
  2. Existing networking hardware can be used to support basic functions such as load-balancing and packet encryption for network transit.
  3. More resilient to network and firewall reconfigurations.
  4. More robust: servlet connections can be reestablished if network connections drop unexpectedly for Forms, Framework, and JSP-based pages.
  5. Is the only supported method for generic Oracle Forms customers, and therefore is more thoroughly tested by the Forms and E-Business Suite product groups.
  6. Performance traffic can be monitored via tools like Oracle Real User Experience Insight (RUEI).
  7. Socket mode is not supported on Windows-based server platforms.

Socket Mode Advantages

  1. Uses up to 40% less bandwidth than Forms servlet mode.  This may be perceived by Wide Area Network (WAN) users as causing slower responsiveness, depending upon network latency.
  2. Uses fewer application-tier JVM resources than servlet mode, due to fewer TCP turns and lack of overhead associated with HTTP POST handling.

Switching Apps Deployments Between Modes

Due to its numerous advantages, Forms servlet mode is the preferred and recommended deployment model for Forms on the web. 

There may be circumstances where you need to switch between the default Forms modes.  You might wish to switch your Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 environment to socket mode to improve performance or reduce network load.  You might wish to switch your Apps 11i environment to servlet mode as part of your rollout to external web-based end-users outside of your organization.

If you're running Apps 11i and would like to switch to servlet mode, see:

If you're running Apps 12 and would like to switch to socket mode, see:

Related Articles

Tuesday May 26, 2009

15 New Technology Stack Enhancements in EBS 12.1.1

Now that our latest Applications Release 12.1.1 is available, here's a list of new technology stack configuration features you might be interested in learning about.  While you're reviewing new R12.1.1 content, please do not miss our newly revamped and user-friendly AutoConfig guide:

This updated AutoConfig guide has been restructured to present you more in-depth and practical information to get you get started quickly with AutoConfig and all its related utilities. Please check it out and let us know what you think about it!

Diagram showing the process by which the AutoConfig Build Context Utility consolidates data from the EBS database environment variables and context template to generate a context file

What's New in 12.1.1's Techstack Utilities?

Here's what's new in our Apps 12.1.1 technology stack tools and utilities:

Enhanced Support for Sharing Application Tier File System

  • Enables the sharing of the application tier file system amongst two or more Oracle E-Business Suite instances.
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 384248.1

Enhanced Support for Application Tier Load Balancing

  • Provides configuration support for major load balancing categories: DNS, OC4J Native, HTTP layer (hardware/software).
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 380489.1

Enhanced Support for DMZ Deployments

  • New demilitarized zone (DMZ) deployment options added, including support for forward proxies, reverse proxies with no external web tiers, and the use of hardware load-balancers without an external web tier.
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 380490.1

Network Traffic Encryption Capability

  • Provides AutoConfig support for securing the major communication routes with SSL.
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 376700.1

Advanced Configuration Wizards

  • Examples of such advanced configurations include DNS load balancing, HTTP load balancing, SSL setup on web server, SSL Accelerator setup, and others.

Oracle Connection Manager Technology Integration

  • Reverse proxy support for the database using Oracle Connection Manager
  • Oracle Connection Manager (CMAN) is a lightweight, highly-scalable program that works as a proxy server, forwarding connection requests to database servers or to the next proxy server. Oracle Connection Manager listener receives connection requests, evaluates them against a set of rules, and determines whether to deny or allow access.
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 558959.1

Support for Integrated SOA Gateway

  • More improvements and automation around integrating with Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and web services.
  • More information in My Oracle Support Knowledge Document 556540.1

Technology Stack Inventory Validation Report

  • Allows administrators to review the versions of various installed technology components, patchsets and interim ("one-off") patches.

AutoConfig Profiler

AutoConfig Parallelization

  • AutoConfig can be run in parallel on different nodes of an Oracle E-Business Suite system, reducing the overall time needed to run AutoConfig.

AutoConfig Service Control Dependency Management :

  • Now it is possible to enable and disable specific OC4J instances on the Application Tier Servers.

AutoConfig Check Config Utility

AutoConfig Support for Oracle Database 11g

  • Support to run on and configure an Oracle 11g database using AutoConfig.

Build Context XML Utility

AutoConfig Search Utility

  • A new search utility that can be used to obtain detailed information about context variables and the templates that use them.
Note: The enhanced functionality above is not available as standalone downloads or for previous Apps releases.  They can only be obtained via Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1.1.

Other References

Related Articles

Monday Apr 20, 2009

New Whitepaper: Manually Cloning Apps 11i Databases Running 10g or 11g RAC

Our Applications Technology Group recently published a matrix showing certified cloning scenarios for E-Business Suite databases running in Real Application Cluster (RAC) configurations.  Since then, some concerns have been raised about the lack of Rapid Clone support for EBS environments running on the 10g and 11g databases.

In response to those concerns, our Applications Technology Group has published a new whitepaper:

This new whitepaper describes a certified and supported method for manually cloning Apps 11i environments running 10g or 11g RAC.  The Note assumes a high degree of familiarity with Oracle Applications AD Utilities, RapidClone, AutoConfig, Recovery Manager, and SQL*Plus.

Related Articles

Friday Apr 17, 2009

Products and Families and Versions - Oh, My!

[Oct 1, 2010 Update: Tweaked the Apps Unlimited section and updated EBS release versions]

[Apr 15, 2009 Update: Added EBS version names and numbers, database version names and numbers, latest version numbers of other components, and new definitions for Applications Unlimited, Consolidated Updates, Critical Patch Collections, Release Update Packs, and the ever-confusing "RUP".  Added link to one-page summary of EBS Certifications]

I spend a depressing amount of time explaining the relationships between Oracle marketing brands, products, product families, versions, and patchsets to customers as well as internal Oracle staff.  You're confused too?  Don't worry, you're not alone.  Here's a cheatsheet for the things I spend the most time explaining:

Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i or 12

An integrated suite of over 200 enterprise resource planning applications, including modules for Procurement, Accounts Payables, Accounts Receivables, Order Management, Payroll, Supply Chain Planning, Customer Call Centers, and many, many others.

Also Known As:  Oracle Applications, Oracle Apps, EBS, eBS, E-Biz, R11, 11i, R12, 12i (incorrect name!)

Oracle Application Server 10g

An integrated suite of development, runtime, and systems management tools, including Forms, JDeveloper, Oracle Application Server Containers for J2EE (OC4J), Single Sign-On, Oracle Internet Directory, Portal, Discoverer, Web Cache, Integration, Oracle BPEL Process Manager, Business Activity Monitoring, Enterprise Manager, and others.

Also Known As:  OracleAS 10g, Application Server 10g, App Server 10g, AS10g, 10gAS, AS10gR1, AS10gR2, AS10gR3, 10gR2, 10gR3

Oracle Database

Well, it's Oracle's flagship product, so if I need to describe it, we're in real trouble.  This includes the Real Application Clusters (RAC) feature.  Everyone frequently confuses the Database with the Application Server products.  If someone says, "10gR2," the chances are pretty good that they're talking about the database, but it's always safe to verify that.

Also Known As:  8i, 9i, 10gR1, 10gR2, 11gR1, 11gR2

Fusion Middleware

A family of middleware products including Oracle Application Server as well as Grid, Business Intelligence, Business Process Management, Collaboration, Content Management, Data Integration, Developer Tools, Event Driven Architecture, Service-Oriented Architecture, SOA Governance, Transaction Processing, Identity Management, and other middleware tools.

Also Known As:  FMW, OFM

Fusion Applications

The next-generation of our integrated enterprise resource planning suite, representing the convergence of Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and perhaps even more to come. 

Also Known As:  Project Fusion, Fusion Apps

Applications Unlimited

This term officially refers to the lifetime support program for Oracle's applications product lines, including E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, Siebel, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, JD Edwards World, Hyperion Performance Management, Primavera Enterprise Project Portfolio Management, Agile Product Lifecycle Management, AutoVue Enterprise Visualization, and Oracle Fusion Applications.  This term is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to all of these products as a group -- it's not a "group," it's a formal program with support and release implications).

Also Known As:  Apps Unlimited, AU

E-Business Suite Release and Patch Naming Conventions

"Product Families"   Groups of applications modules that are functionally related.  For example, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Chart of Accounts are members of the Financials product family

"Emergency Patch" (a.k.a. interim patches)   A patch containing a fix for a specific bug for a specific product.  For example, Order Management might release patch 3968068 to fix a very tightly-defined bug.  Some emergency patches are released to fix a cluster of interrelated bugs.

"Product Mini-Pack"  A collection of bug fixes for a specific applications module.  For example, fixes for XML Publisher would be released in an XML Publisher mini-pack called 11i.XDO.H.

"Product Family Patchset"   A collection of product mini-packs for a specific, individual product family.  For example, fixes for Payroll, Benefits, and Training Administration would be released together in a Human Resources Suite Product Family Patchset called 11i.HR_PF.K.  New features are not supposed to be included in product family patchsets, but it happens. This is sometimes also called a Rollup Patchset, or RUP (see below).

"Recommended Patch List"  A list of individual patches for a specific product family that you should have applied.  These lists might include recommended emergency patches as well as product mini-packs.  If a product family recommends a patch via these lists, it's usually a very good idea to heed that.

"Critical Patch Collection"  This term was introduced for the EBS 12 codeline.  It includes the latest patches from the Recommended Patch List for a single EBS 12 product family.  If a product family (e.g. Financials) releases a new Critical Patch Collection, it's usually a very good idea to apply it at your earliest convenience.

"Maintenance Packs"   A comprehensive collection of all of the latest product family patchsets and new features.  For example, the Maintenance Pack includes product family patchsets for Financials, Procurement, HR, Supply Chain, and everything else in the E-Business Suite.

"Consolidated Updates"   A large collection of all of the latest EBS 11i recommended patch lists, including new features.  Released after a maintenance pack, such as the Consolidated Update for 11.5.10.  This term is used only for EBS 11i.  The EBS 12 equivalent term is "Release Update Pack."

"Release Update Packs"  A large collection of all of the latest EBS 12 recommended patch lists, including new features.  This term is used only for EBS 12.  The EBS 11i equivalent term is "Consolidated Update."

"Technology Stack Updates"  Any combination of patchsets or mini-packs that change the underlying services that product families depend upon.  For example,  the latest Applications Technology Family Pack is released in 11i.ATG_PF.H.

Generally, fixes to functional applications products like iReceivables don't require changes to the E-Business Suite technology stack, and vice versa.  There are exceptions to that, of course, but that's our general strategy.

"RUP"  This one's a bit confusing since this term is used and abused in varying ways even internally within the E-Business Suite division.  Bear with me on this:

Remember that in the E-Business Suite Release 11i timeframe, a given product team (e.g. the Applications Technology Group) would release a Product Family Patchset that includes all previously-released patches, emergency patches, and new features.  This was often called a Rollup Patchset, or RUP.

In the E-Business Suite Release 12 timeframe, the term "Release Update Pack" is being used in place of "Consolidated Updates".  R12 Release Update Packs combine patches created across several E-Business Suite product families. Given the way neologisms form, these became referred to in shortened form as "RUPs" too.

Still with me?  In EBS 11i, RUP referred to a single product family patchset, while in EBS 12, RUP generally refers to a consolidated update spanning multiple products.  Now brace yourself.  Here's the confusing part:

In EBS 12, we're also still releasing product family patchsets, and -- wait for it -- they're sometimes called rollup patchsets, too.  These R12 rollup patchset references will invariably be shortened to RUP, too.  So, there are two definitions of "RUP" even within the R12 codeline.

Tip:  If someone refers to a RUP in your presence, make sure that you clarify whether it's a "Release Update Pack" or a "Rollup Patchset."  The difference between the two is vast.

Oracle E-Business Suite Releases

Applications 10.7 Network Computing Architure (10.7 NCA)

Applications Release 11

  • 11.0.3

Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i

  • 11.5.1 - 11.5.10
  • 11.5.10 Consolidated Update 1, 11.5.10.CU1 or
  • 11.5.10 Consolidated Update 2, 11.5.10.CU2 or

Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12

  • 12.0.0
  • 12.0.1
  • 12.0.2
  • 12.0.3
  • 12.0.4
  • 12.0.5 (HRMS and Financials only)
  • 12.0.6
  • 12.0.7 (HRMS only)
  • 12.0.8 (HRMS only)
  • 12.1.1
  • 12.1.2
  • 12.1.3

Oracle Application Server 10g Releases

OracleAS 10g Release 1 (10gR1)
  • Version
  • Version
  • Version
OracleAS 10g Release 2 (10gR2)
  • Version
  • Version
  • Version
OracleAS 10g Release 3 (10gR3)
  • Version 10.1.3

Oracle Database Server Releases

Oracle 8i

Oracle 9i Release 2 (9iR2)


Oracle 10g Release 1 (10gR1)


Oracle 10g Release 2 (10gR2)


Oracle 11g Release 1 (11gR1)

Patch Compatibility and Certification Matrix

Here's where I lose the three remaining readers of this post.

Only specific versions of Oracle products work together.  It's critical to check whether a specific patch works with your configuration.

It's a tricky system to use, but the final word on all supported configurations is captured in a massive database called Certify.  To access this system, log on to MetaLink and click the Certify tab in the upper-right corner.

It's easy to get lost in Certify, and it's sometimes very hard to get an answer to a simple question.  If you get stuck, the best route is to log a Service Request and let an Oracle Support Engineer wade through the Certify database for you.

A Simplified Version of Certify

Certify is the official repository for all Oracle certifications.  It's tricky to use, so you may find a simplified summary of all E-Business Suite technology stack certifications useful.  Hit the "Certifications" link in the menubar above, or just navigate to it directly here:

Whew.  Let's move on to more interesting topics; this one felt too much like real work.

Related Articles

Friday Feb 20, 2009

On Database Patching and Support: A Primer for E-Business Suite Users

The Oracle Server Technologies division has issued some important updates to their support policies in the following document:

These changes affect support policies for the database, Oracle Enterprise Manager, Fusion Middleware, and Collaboration Suite.  These changes are important enough to warrant an in-depth discussion about the implications of the database-related updates for E-Business Suite customers.  This article also discusses the E-Business Suite database certification process and the safety of applying interim patches to your Apps environments.  I'll cover the Apps-specific implications for the other technology products in a future article.

[Read More]

Thursday Dec 11, 2008

Oracle Configuration Manager Natively Supported With EBS 12

Oracle Configuration Manager (OCM) is a tool that automatically gathers configuration information from Oracle product installs and upload this information onto Oracle’s Support systems.  Customer support engineers can use this data to improve resolution times for your Service Requests.  Joshua Solomin, the OCM Product Manager, discusses the tool's benefits and the data that it collects in this article:

Screenshot of My Support page showing OCM inventory

Oracle Configuration Manager is now natively supported with Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12. Starting with OCM 10.2.7, OCM provides native support for shared ORACLE_HOMEs. This makes possible to configure the latest version of OCM with E-Business Suite instances.  EBS 12 customers can take advantage of the benefits provided by Oracle Configuration Manager without worrying about whether their Application Server and Database Oracle Homes are part of an E-Business Suite Instance. There are no EBS-specific configurations requirements with OCM 10.2.7 or higher.

[Read More]

Thursday Dec 04, 2008

New Whitepaper: Options for Reducing E-Business Suite Database Sizes

I have yet to encounter a database that ever got smaller.  Like waistlines and the US national debt, all databases seem destined to increase in size.  The E-Business Suite is no exception:  as we add more product capabilities and your business grows, so do your Apps databases.

Oracle-supplied solutions to managing Applications database size fall into two categories:  data growth control methods and data management methods.

Growth Control Methods

  • Archiving and purging
  • Database compression

Data Management Methods

A new Oracle whitepaper discussing these topics is now available:

Screenshot of Oracle Information Lifecycle Management Assistant used with E-Business Suite database tables

[Read More]

Tuesday Nov 18, 2008

Advanced Deployment Architectures for Oracle E-Business Suite (OpenWorld 2008 Recap)

I'm (still) highlighting OpenWorld 2008 presentations that cover some of the most popular E-Business Suite technology stack topics. A catalog of all of the Applications Technology track sessions with links to the presentations is available here:

E-Business Suite sysadmins know that there are a lot of different ways to deploy their system in production.  You can split EBS services across multiple application tier and database tier server nodes, you can scale up with load-balancers and Real Application Clusters, you can integrate your E-Business Suite instance with optional external services like Oracle Single Sign-On and the Oracle SOA Suite, and much, much more.

Sample physical architecture diagram showing E-Business Suite integrated with Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory with firewalls separating DMZs

The number of architectural options can be pretty bewildering, and it can be difficult to get a high-level overview of the relative benefits of each option.  We have lots of detailed documentation and introductory blog articles on, say, implementing RAC, but it's very difficult to get a sense of whether you can combine a reverse proxy in front of a load-balanced cluster with a RAC-enabled database tier (this is feasible, by the way).

[Read More]

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

EBS 12: Install + Cloning Techniques Deep Dive (OpenWorld 2008 Recap)

I'm highlighting OpenWorld 2008 presentations that cover some of the most popular E-Business Suite technology stack topics. A catalog of all of the Applications Technology track sessions with links to the presentations is available here:

If you're looking for a good overview of how Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 environments can be cloned, you should check out the following presentation from Max Arderius, Development Manager in the Applications Technology Group, and Biju Mohan, Product Manager in the Applications Technology Group:

Graphic showing differences between Rapid Clone and automated cloning via Applications Management Pack AMP

[Read More]

Tuesday Oct 28, 2008

E-Business Suite Technology Essentials (OpenWorld 2008 Recap)

I'll be highlighting OpenWorld 2008 presentations that cover some of the most popular E-Business Suite technology stack topics.  A catalog of all of the Applications Technology track sessions with links to the presentations is available here:

The E-Business Suite technology stack can be a bit intimidating at first.  Lisa Parekh, Vice President of Applications Technology Integration, provides a crisp overview of the key technologies and concepts that every Apps manager or DBA should be familiar with in this presentation:


[Read More]

Monday Oct 13, 2008

Every Current E-Business Techstack Certification on One Page


I started this blog over two years ago as an experiment.  My goal: make it easier to find information about the E-Business Suite that was already published somewhere in the vast system that is Oracle Metalink.

Metalink has since received a dramatic facelift and has been renamed to My Oracle Support.  Good news, but an upgrade to one key part of that system is still pending: the Certify database.

The Certify database documents all possible combinations of all Oracle products with all possible operating systems. This is both the strength and Achilles heel of the Certify system.  It's comprehensive, but its sheer size can make it hard find a specific piece of information — even for us Oracle insiders.

It's time for another experiment.

[Read More]

Tuesday Oct 07, 2008

Three Options for Scaling Up E-Business Suite for Reporting

[Oct 10, 2008 Update: Added link to article comparing the use of Oracle Active Data Guard with Oracle Data Guard for EBS environments]

The run-up to our annual OpenWorld conference consists of frenzied activities to ensure that all of our planned certifications wrap up in time to be announced at the conference.  The follow-up from OpenWorld consists of handling questions, bug reports, and escalations from our sessions, panels, and private customer meetings.  Given that this is all on top of our regular day jobs, one day I'm going to print up some t-shirts that say, "I survived another Oracle OpenWorld."

So, back in the blogging saddle again. I'll address one of the architectural questions that seems to pop perennially:

How do I handle heavy reporting overhead without disrupting my E-Business Suite instance's transactional users?  Can I offload this to a separate reporting instance?

[Read More]

Wednesday Aug 27, 2008

Reducing Patching Downtimes with Staged Applications Systems


It's axiomatic that everyone wants to minimize maintenance downtimes for their E-Business Suite environments. This is particularly crucial for environments with users in multiple timezones. I've previously summarized some of the most-effective ways of reducing patching downtimes for E-Business Suite environments. As noted in that article, one of the best ways of minimizing your maintenance downtimes is to use a staged Applications system.

The staged approach allows you to perform as many changes as possible in an offline Apps environment, and defers taking down your production environment only for the final database patches tasks. Using this approach, you apply your new patches to an exact clone of your production E-Business Suite environment. This can be done while your production system is still running. The staged Applications environment is then used to run database updates and APPL_TOP changes into your production environment.

[Read More]

Wednesday Aug 06, 2008

In-Depth: Using Third-Party Identity Managers with E-Business Suite Release 12

This article is an updated R12 version of an earlier one written for Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i.

Like most of our customers, you probably already have a corporate identity management system in place. And, you've probably not been enjoying the experience of redundantly administering the same user in your corporate identity management system as well as the E-Business Suite. If this describes your environment, this in-depth article about integrating Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, Oracle Single Sign-On and Oracle Internet Directory with third-party identity management systems will show you a better way of managing your EBS users.

[Read More]

Tuesday Jul 15, 2008

Case Study: Oracle's Own Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 Upgrade

[Oct. 27, 2008 Update:  The latest version of this popular presentation from OpenWorld 2008 is now available for download.  For links to the latest version, see this article.]

I've heard anecdotal reports suggesting that some customers hold off on upgrading to a given E-Business Suite release until we've done so ourselves here at Oracle. Oracle went live on R12.0.3 in January 2008, and a reader reminded me that I haven't highlighted this adequately. Here's a critical presentation from Eugene Weinstein and Sharon Leong at OAUG Collaborate 2008 (Denver) that I've been remiss in profiling:

Eugene and Sharon cover a lot of ground in this technically-oriented presentation, including:

  • A primer on the R12 file system
  • Supported upgrade paths from earlier Apps releases (11.5.x, 11.0)
  • A detailed step-by-step flowchart of the upgrade process
  • Applications DBA (AD) improvements relating to the upgrade process
  • Performance improvements relating to the upgrade
  • Best practices for:
  • Reducing downtime
  • Performing pre-upgrade, upgrade, and post-upgrade steps
[Read More]

Friday Jul 11, 2008

New Whitepaper: Mod_plsql and E-Business Suite 12

Mod_plsql is an Apache web server extension that can be used to develop web application pages using Server PL/SQL. Architecture diagram showing flow from client to mod_plsql Apache mod to Oracle database The Past is Prologue Unlike Oracle E-Business Suite Release 11i, Release 12 does not include mod_plsql as part of its technology stack. I've briefly discussed this architectural change in the following two articles: It should be stressed that Oracle is fully committed to supporting mod_plsql as part of Oracle Application Server and as part of the Oracle Database distribution into the indefinite future. The Oracle E-Business Suite is distinct from Oracle Application Server. Oracle E-Business Suite Development chooses to use specific Oracle Application Server components in the E-Business Suite technology stack. These decisions by E-Business Suite Development should not be interpreted to represent the release policies or plans for Oracle Application Server. Going Into More Detail Many of you have raised questions about why mod_plsql was removed from Release 12. Others have asked what to do about their mod_plsql-based Apps 11i customizations and extensions when upgrading to R12. George Buzsaki,our preeminent E-Business Suite architect, has put together an excellent new whitepaper that addresses these topics, and more: [Read More]

Thursday Jun 12, 2008

New Whitepaper: Best Practices for Adopting E-Business Suite Release 12 (First Edition)

A colleague has just pulled off an impressive feat that I wouldn't have attempted myself:  she's collected practical tips and advice on how to do Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 implementations and upgrades.  She's consolidated input from Oracle's Support, Consulting, IT, and Development groups into a new whitepaper:

This whitepaper is mandatory reading if you're planning -- or in the middle of -- an Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 deployment.  The whitepaper has a mix of concrete and strategic advice that covers topics such as:

[Read More]

Tuesday May 27, 2008

New Whitepaper: Database Partitioning for the E-Business Suite

Some readers complain that we don't have sufficient documentation to cover all possible scenarios and topics of interest.  This is a valid observation.  As your E-Business Suite deployments grow in complexity and scope, keeping ahead of your questions and new requirements is a constant challenge.

In my position as the editor of this blog, something I do only in my so-called free time, my situation is the odd inverse of yours, namely:  the rate at which we release new Metalink Notes far-outstrips my capacity to read and announce them to the world.  Here's a much-belated announcement about a database partitioning whitepaper produced by our Applications Performance Group.

What Is Database Partitioning?

Partitioning allows a single database table and its associated indexes to be broken into smaller components depending on the table and choice of index partitioning methods.  Several E-Business Suite modules take advantage of database partitioning right out of the box, and custom partitioning is also fully supported.  I've covered database partitioning concepts for Apps environments in more depth in this older article.

Database Partitioning Methods:

Best Practices for Partitioning Apps Databases

As I've noted before, we have a group in our Applications Development division that's dedicated to optimizing the E-Business Suite's performance.  As a member of this Applications Performance group, Mohsin Sameen has worked extensively with some of our enterprise-class customers -- including many of the largest companies in the world -- on fine-tuning the performance of of their high-volume Apps environments.

Mohsin has distilled these experiences into an extensive and in-depth paper on database partitioning:
Mohsin's excellent whitepaper covers topics such as:
  • Overview of database partitioning concepts
  • Table partitioning strategies involving range, list, hash, composite, and multi-column partitions
  • Index partitioning methods, including global and local partitioned indexes
  • Step-by-step decision framework for using partitions
  • Partition maintenance operations
  • Partitioning case study
The knee-jerk reaction answer to a performance problem is often to throw more hardware at it.  If you have a large E-Business Suite environment where the growth rate of your historical transactional data is starting to affect performance, I'd strongly recommend reading this whitepaper.  It's entirely possible that you could use it to squeeze some additional performance out of your existing environment without the added expense of new hardware.

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Tuesday Apr 22, 2008

New Whitepaper: E-Business Suite Development Using OAF & ADF

Customers, partners and system integrators often develop extensions to Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) applications. Such extensions have traditionally used the same technology stack (Forms or OA Framework) that the original EBS application was built with.  This ensured that the extensions are fully compatible with the rest of the installed EBS applications.

R12 OAF Techstack: Block diagram showing the OA Framework Technology Stack for E-Business Suite Release 12

With the emergence of the next generation Fusion Middleware technology stack, especially the Application Develoment Framework (ADF), an increasingly-common question is whether to use OAF or ADF to develop E-Business Suite Release 12 extensions.

Our E-Business Suite Applications Technology group has released a long-awaited whitepaper addressing this question. This whitepaper discusses the similarities, differences and overlaps between the OAF and ADF stacks. 

If you're considering these technology stacks for your Apps R12 extensions, I'd strongly recommend reviewing this whitepaper:
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Tuesday Jul 24, 2007

10 Tips for Protecting your APPS Password

E-Business Suite security is a huge topic, as there are many different facets to consider. This article will consider a small but essential part of the security model: protecting your APPS user password.

The APPS user in the E-Business Suite is the master of its world. I have gathered together some thoughts on steps you can take and things to consider to help you protect your APPS password from being compromised:

  1. Stay current with our latest Security Best Practices

    Regularly review the latest version of Best Practices for Securing Oracle E-Business Suite (Note 189367.1). This note is regularly updated and will give security advice covering many different aspects of Applications 11i.    For Release 12, see Best Practices For Securing Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12  (Note 403537.1)

  2. Regularly change your APPS password

    This is an essential activity from a security perspective and needs to be part of your routine operating procedures. Same applies for other schema passwords and SYSADMIN user. As an aside, don't use predicable passwords, or have a system to create passwords, such as using "0ct0ber" for the password in October as this will make it easier to guess

  3. Always change passwords as part of a clone process from PROD

    It is recomended to change ALL schema passwords and ALL eBiz user passwords in a cloned instance.   You can use Removing Credentials from a Cloned EBS Production Database (Note 419475.1) to achieve this.    Similarly, you don't want to have any relation in the passwords used for PROD compared to any other instances. Data masking and obfuscation is a large topic in its own right, but is also something you may need to consider doing for the cloned instance to protect sensitive data generally. With Release 12, EM plugin provides some data scrambling facilities.

  4. Perform data masking on any files sent to outside parties from the PROD system

    When you need to send any log files or configuration files, ensure that you scan for any sensitive data before packing the files to be sent. In this article we are concerned about the APPS password, but this applies equally well for other data as well. For example, a crude mechanism would be to use "ed" or "sed" on all files to globally change any occurrences of the APPS password before creating a tar archive to email or upload. You may be uploading files to Oracle Support, or just emailing them within your Organization. Whenever the files are going to someone who cannot access them directly you should always check the files before sending.

  5. Create separate schemas with minimal access required for direct database access  

    If anyone requires direct access to the E-Business Suite database, ensure that you create a new unique schema with the specific permissions required for them to perform their job role. Except for a very few Apps DBAs, there should be no reason that anyone else needs the APPS user password. Sometimes pressures of work make it easier to just give someone APPS access, but this should be resisted and the time taken to provide only the minimum access absolutely required. Every person should also have their own unique login (but this is digressing into a separate area that I'll address in a later article).   When considering permissions to allocate, don't be tempted to give read only access to everything, as being able to read sensitive information may be just as damaging as being able to change it.

  6. Protect Apps 11i middle tier file system files

    These days, there is little need to give anyone UNIX-level access to the servers, but it is still important to ensure the "applmgr" operating system user password is well protected. Also consider whether any of your own startup scripts or monitoring scripts have the APPS password hard coded in them, and protect these scripts with chmod 700 permissions, or remove them if no longer needed

  7. Ensure no processes are running with APPS username/password in command line

    Generally the APPS password is not listed in "ps" output, but there may be some manual scripts or other processes intermittently running with the APPS password in clear text or trivially encoded. Ensure these scripts are changed to hide the APPS password. In addition, ensure operating system access is restricted to only those who really need it

  8. Protect OID access

    If you have integrated the E-Business Suite with Oracle Application Server 10g, Single Sign-On, and Oracle Internet Directory, then the Apps user password is stored in the OID database, as it is required for Provisioning to function. The OID administrator and anyone with ldapsearch rights in the Provisioning Profiles will be able to extract the APPS password from OID. This in turn implies the "AppsDN" OID password should be protected in the same way as the APPS password itself.    For assistance in security hardening OID, refer to the Oracle Internet Directory Administrator's Guide 10g ( - Part III Directory Security

  9. Encrypt SQLNET traffic from Middle Tier to RDBMS

    In a previous article, Steven highlighted that ANO is certified with the E-Business Suite. Use encryption to protect the APPS password from network sniffers tracing SQLNET connection packets and deciphering the APPS password on the wire.

  10. Allow only specific IP addresses to access RDBMS via SQLNET

    Slightly off topic, but if someone has acquired the APPS password they still have to be able to gain access to a tool that can use it. Restricting the IP addresses that can access your Apps database will help minimise this risk. If you are still using "fat" clients (Discoverer or ADI for example) then you will have to weigh up the risks against the administrative overhead. Oracle recommends upgrading to server-based equivalent tools or shared desktop technologies such as Citrix so desktop clients no longer need direct access.  This topic is discussed further in E-Business Suite Recommended Set Up for Client/Server Products (Note 277535.1)


Defence in depth is generally considered the best approach so hopefully these recommendations will give you some food for thought when you are reviewing how well your own system is protected.

Sound password policies are critical to enforce access policies and enforce individual accountability.  You need to jealously guard your passwords, particularly for the APPS user.




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