Friday Jan 08, 2016

2016 Oracle Utilities America’s Product Development Customer Advisory Board

I will be attending the 2016 Oracle Utilities America’s Product Development Customer Advisory Board this year which is in Phoenix Arizona from the Feb 29th till 3rd March. This year we are running a dedicated technical stream highlighting specific technical features and also running a Technical Q&A Panel to answer technical questions and discuss our directions.

The sessions will be focused on technical aspects of the solution and be a combination of presentations on topics, live demonstrations and question/answer sessions with product experts. The planned sessions this year are:

 Session  Overview
 Security Features and Functions
In this session the new and improved security features of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework will be discussed including integrations to various security technologies to understand and take advantage of the advanced security solutions now available.
 Web Services Integration
In this session the new Inbound Web Services, Message Driven beans and REST functionality of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework are highlighted to understand the integration capabilities for implementation. This session will include integrations to SOA products.
 Information Lifecycle Management
In this session the new Information Lifecycle Management solution will be outlined and discussed to highlight the capabilities, implementation strategies and techniques for reducing storage costs whilst retaining data for business purposes
 Managing your Utilities environment using Oracle Enterprise Manager In this session the techniques and capabilities of reducing your IT management costs using Oracle Enterprise Manager are outlined including using the base capabilities of the console and using the various packs available to augment the solution including the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities.
 Technical Cloud Solutions
In this session the technical architecture of Oracle Cloud offerings for Software As A Service (SaaS) and Platform As A Service (PaaS) will be discussed. This session highlights all the technology used in the solution as well as the architecture of those solutions.
 Oracle Utilities Framework Roadmap
In this session the roadmap of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework will be outlined.
 Oracle Utilities Testing Solutions
In this session the new Oracle Application Testing Suite based testing accelerators for Oracle Utilities products will be outlined and demonstrated for quick adoption of automated testing. The solution includes Functional/Regression Testing, Performance/Load Testing and Testing Management.
 Mobile Framework Overview
In this session the planned Mobile Server integration architecture and technology will be highlighted to allow connected and disconnected mobile clients for Oracle Utilities products.
 Technology Strategy
In this session the short, medium and long term technology strategy will be discussed to outline the technology directions and integrations for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework in future releases. There will be a Q&A session in this session as well to discuss technology options.
 Technical Implementation Q&A Panel
This session will be generic panel session where product managers and product developers are available for customer and partner questions and discussions on technical aspects of implementations.

I will be available for all these sessions with other product managers and will also be attending the Customer User Group meetings after the CAB has completed. These sessions are designed for technical personnel rather than business personnel.

I look forward to seeing you at the CAB. For those in APAC, I am also attending the APAC CAB in Melbourne (my home town) in Mid February 2016 with a subset of these sessions.


Monday Jan 04, 2016

Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities 13.1.1.1.0 available

We are pleased to announce that a new version of the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities has been released to support the new release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 13c. We are excited to offer this new pack which now supports the new features of Oracle Enterprise Manager including:

  • The user interface has been updated to reflect the new Alta look and feel implemented by Oracle Enterprise Manager
  • The Always On feature is now supported that is used by Oracle Enterprise Manager to drastically reduce downtime for Oracle Enterprise Manager or pack maintenance
  • The System Broadcast feature is now supported allowing broadcast across all Oracle Enterprise Manager users
  • Support for Brownouts is now included where non-scheduled outages are now calculated separately for Service Level Agreement checking
  • and many more...

The functionality of the pack is the same as the latest release of the pack for Oracle Enterprise 12c for backward compatibility reasons. This pack requires Oracle Enterprise Manager 13c. The new version of the pack is available from Self Update within Oracle Enterprise Manager 13c and Oracle Software Delivery Cloud.

A new release of the pack is also scheduled in the near future with additional functionality to fully exploit additional new and exciting features of Oracle Enterprise Manager 13c. For more information about Oracle Enterprise Manager 13c refer to the EM blog post.

Product vs Solution vs Infrastructure

One of the most common questions I get from partners is support for features that are typically in the infrastructure. The main issue here is that some partners confuse what is in the product and what is in the infrastructure and the implementation solution. Let me explain.

The Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products are applications housed within J2EE infrastructure (such as Oracle WebLogic and in some cases IBM WebSphere) and for batch, housed in a runtime version of Oracle Coherence.

Now there is a degree of separation between the product and the infrastructure. Each has distinct roles and those roles are only duplicated across what we call touchpoints between the product and the infrastructure. Another complication comes into play is the role of the solution which the particular configuration of the product and the infrastructure to suit a particular need.

When I was considering writing this article to highlight the differences in product, infrastructure and solutions I bounced around a few ways of describing it but I found the nest way is in the form of a common example.

Lets use the example of security authentication (aka who are you?). This is essentially the feature of securing and identifying the user when connecting to the product. The most common example of this is known as challenge and response (or more commonly userid and password).

In terms of the roles security authentication is described as follows in terms of product, infrastructure and solution:

  • The product does not store userid and password itself. It does not make sense in the context of an enterprise application as typically security is enterprise wide, for efficiency reasons, not just for a particular product. This is delegated to the J2EE container (Oracle WebLogic/IBM WebSphere) to authenticate the user. The product relies on the container to pass or fail an authentication attempt.
  • The J2EE container, which is part of the infrastructure, supports various security repositories and standards via security connectors. For example, if you have a corporate security server that holds users and passwords then you can connect it via LDAP to the container to now implement a common identity store. The J2EE container supports a wide range of adapters and in the case of Oracle WebLogic you can implement multiples for different parts of your business. An example of this is where you can separate administration accounts from common users using different identity stores.
  • A solution for the product is a distinct configuration of the J2EE container with appropriately configured security connectors. This can also mean that you externalize this function even further by implementing an Identity Management solution such as Oracle Identity Management Suite.

As you see in the example, there are distinct differences between the product, solution and infrastructure. You can apply the same logic to a wide range of implementation aspects needed to be considered.

Now, lets focus on a particular issue using the example above. Where should the users be able to change their password?

  • The product does not have inbuilt password change functionality. This is because in a solution context, it makes no sense. This is why we do not supply one. It does not mean you cannot add this functionality to the menu as a common function.
  • The product is always connected to a security repository via the J2EE container (even the default one shipped with the J2EE container). The password change function is at the infrastructure level not the product level.
  • Typically you can change passwords from external sources which is much more logical. Lets take the common example of reusing the same security repository for LAN login and the product (via a common LDAP source with or without SSO). If you use this example, typically the LAN login allows you to change your password which would apply to all connected applications. It makes no sense in this example to also duplicate the functionality in the product. Also why would you let the product change a security repository.

The above example brings the discussion into sharp focus.

Now, how do I deal with these situations? I call it "What would product <blank> do in this situation?", where <blank> is your favorite desktop application. I usually use Office as an example (not a great example but something most people understand). You would not expect Word or its equivalent to have a password maintenance function. No, it does not make sense. Word in this example, uses the features of the operating system to do all sorts of functions like printing, scanning etc... The application does not have all these functions inbuilt (otherwise it would not be a word processor really).

Hope this clarifies the situation.

Monday Dec 21, 2015

WS-Policy Support for IWS

One of the major advantages of Inbound Web Services (IWS) is the support for security based around the WS-Policy standard. By supporting WS-Policy it is now possible to support a wide range of transport and message security standards within each individual web service. It is also possible to support multiple policies. This allows maximum flexibility for interfacing to Oracle Utilities products using the WS-Policy support provided by Oracle WebLogic and IBM WebSphere (for selected products).This means the Web Services client calling our Inbound Web Services must comply with at least one of the WS-Policy directives attached to the service.

The support for WS-Policy is implemented in a number of areas:

  • It is possible to attach custom WS-Policy compliant policies directly to the Inbound Web Service as an annotation. The Oracle Utilities product supplies an optional default annotation to implement backward compatibility with XML Application Integration (XAI). This allows customers using XAI to more for Inbound Web Services. Oracle recommends not to attach policies within the Inbound Web Services definition as that can reduce the flexibility of your interfaces.
  • It is possible to attach policies within the J2EE Web Application service AFTER deployment to individual web services. This information is retained across deployments using a deployment file that is generated by the container at deployment time. In Oracle WebLogic this is contained in the deployment plan generated by the deployment activity, it will  reapply the policies during each redeployment process automatically. For Oracle WebLogic, a large number of WS-Policy files are supported for message and transport.
  • For Oracle WebLogic EE customers, it is possible to also use Oracle Web Services Manager to attach additional WS-Policy security policies supported by that product. Again this is done by deployment time. The advantage of Oracle Web Services Manager is that it reuses all of the policies supplied with Oracle WebLogic, adds advanced policies and also adds access control functionality rules you can attach to an Inbound Web Service to control when, who and where it is used.

The bottom line is that you can use any policy (supplied with the J2EE container or custom) that is supported by the J2EE container. You cannot introduce a policy that is not compatible with the container itself as we delegate security to the container.

The only thing we do not support at the present is applying a WS-Policy to part of a message or at the operation level. The WS-Policy is applies across the web service.

Tuesday Dec 08, 2015

Optimizing Log levels in OUAF based applications

Typically the default setup of logging in Oracle Utilities Application Framework based application favors non-production environments. This can cause excessive logging in specific situations in the various channels available.

The Oracle Utilities Application Framework uses log4j for log management. The log4j.properties (default name) controls the individual channels logging information and level. The names and locations of the log4j.properties files are discussed in the Server Administration Guides shipped with the products.

The setting can be altered to suit the amount of logging. The following values are supported (in order of least to most logging):

  • off - The OFF has the highest possible rank and is intended to turn off logging. This is not recommended.
  • fatal - The FATAL level designates very severe error events that will presumably lead the application to abort.
  • error - The ERROR level designates error events that might still allow the application to continue running.
  • warn- The WARN level designates potentially harmful situations.
  • info - The INFO level designates informational messages that highlight the progress of the application at coarse-grained level.
  • debug - The DEBUG Level designates fine-grained informational events that are most useful to debug an application.
  • all - The ALL has the lowest possible rank and is intended to turn on all logging. Only recommended for development environments for use with developers.

Each level includes the levels above. For example a setting of info would include messages of type fatal, error, warning as well as info.

The format of the settings typically look like this:

log4j.logger.com.splwg=info

Each configuration file has multiple logging settings to cover the logging types of individual elements of the architecture. You can optimize individual components of the architecture within a channel.

To implement this you will need to use custom templates as the templates are prebuilt. Refer to the Server Administration Guide supplied with your version of the product for instructions on how to build and use custom templates.

Warning: Changing log levels can hide messages that you might find helpful. Just be careful when setting custom levels.

Thursday Dec 03, 2015

The Oracle Flow Builder difference

One of the key features of the Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities is the support for Oracle Flow Builder. Those not familiar with this product. It is a component and flow management tool to quickly build and maintain testing assets with reduced skills required.

Oracle Flow Builder is not a new product to Oracle. Previously it was exclusively part of the successful product Oracle eBusiness Suite. It was developed to automate the testing of that product to reduce time to market and reduce the risk in implementation and upgrades. It was developed for internal quality assurance originally but we released to success to Oracle eBusiness Suite customers. Customer and QA teams reported up to 70% saving on testing time.

Keen to realize these savings across other products, Oracle moved the Oracle Flow Builder product to be part of the functional testing part of the Oracle Application Testing Suite. This is where our pack came into existence. We had the components available but originally no way to allow customers to quickly adopt the components into flows. It is possible in OpenScript to code a set of component calls, this required higher levels of skills, but quickly it was apparent that Oracle Flow Builder was the solution.

The two development teams worked closely together to allow the pack to be the first product set outside of Oracle eBusiness Suite to support Oracle Flow Builder. This relationship offers great advantages for the solution:

  • Oracle Flow Builder allows non-development resources to build and maintain components and testing flows.
  • Oracle Flow Builder includes a component management toolset to manage the availability and use of components for testing.
  • Oracle Flow Builder including a flow management toolset to allow testers to orchestrate components into testing flows representing different scenarios of business flows. This allows modelling of business flows much easier.
  • Oracle Flow Builder is a team based solution running on a server rather than individual desktops. Typically testing tools, even OpenScript, run on individual desktops which means team development is much harder.
  • Oracle Flow Builder is tightly integrated with Oracle's other testing products in the Oracle Application Testing Suite family to implement testing planning, testing automation and load testing.

Oracle Flow Builder is a key part of our testing infrastructure and it is also a key part for the testing solution for Oracle Utilities products.

For training on Oracle Flow Builder you can use the Youtube Oracle Learning Library training or use the Oracle Learning Library training.

Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities 5.0.0.1.0 Released

A new version of the Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities is now available for download from Oracle Software Delivery Cloud.

Look for Oracle Functional Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities, looking for Version 5.0.0.1.0, as this download includes support for Functional and Load testing.

This new version of the pack now supports a bigger range of Oracle Utilities products and a bigger range of versions. It also includes a component generator and component verifier to allow implementations to build custom components quickly from the meta data.

This new version of the pack supports the following releases:

  • Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 2.4.0.3 (new)
  • Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 2.5.0.1
  • Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management 2.2.0.3 (updated)
  • Oracle Real Time Scheduler 2.2.0.3 (updated)
  • Oracle Utilities Application Framework 4.2.0.3 (new)
  • Oracle Utilities Application Framework  4.3.0.1
  • Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management 2.1.0.3 (new)
  • Oracle Utilities Smart Grid Gateway (all adapters) 2.1.0.3 (new)
  • Oracle Utilities Work And Asset Management 2.1.1 (updated)
  • Oracle Utilities Operational Device Management 2.1.1 (new)

The pack is content for Oracle Application Testing Suite for Functional Testing and Load Testing.

Wednesday Dec 02, 2015

Channel Based Architectures

Over the last few releases of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework, architecture changes have been introduced to move towards a more channel based architectures. The idea is that a channel is an interface method that allows access to the product. One of the key principles is to divide the traffic interfaces into different channels to allow for those channels to be sized, managed and secured using different methods optimized for that channel.

In the Oracle Utilities Application Framework we have implemented the following channels:

  • Online Server - This is the Web based interface that allows online users access to the OLTP functionality of the product.
  • Integration Server - This is a web service based interface supporting SOAP, MDB, SOA, REST etc to allow interfaces to integrate to the product.
  • Batch Server - This is a command Oracle Coherence based channel to support background or batch processing.
  • Mobile Server (New) - This is a new channel we have started to introduce to progressive products to support a connected and disconnected mobile solution.

This channel based architecture is designed with the following principles:

  • Each channel can be installed separately or as a composite installation. In the latest version of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework we introduced the idea of an installation role. When you install the product you decide its role (or roles) which enables a channel for that installation. The role can be decided at installation time but can be changed, for flexibility, after installation without the need for re-installation. This also allows for what we call disparate installations which are installations across many hosts (for availability/scalability). We introduced an environment identifier which allows products like Oracle Enterprise Manager to recognize virtual disparate installations.
  • Each channel can be deployed individually. This allows for flexibility in implementing Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture based solutions to support high levels of availability and scalability. This means the channel can be clustered individually or implemented in component clusters as well (depending on your preferences).
  • Each channel can be secured appropriately using the technology available to you. This essentially means you can use the facilities in the J2EE Web Application Server and associated security products to secure each channel appropriately. For example, the Integration Server which is Web Services based can be secured additionally with Oracle Web Services Manager and the policies supported by the Oracle WebLogic Server. We support the security connectors that Oracle supplies for its servers and also the advanced security offered by other Oracle Security products such as Oracle Identity Management Suite.
  • Each channel can be sized and ring fenced using features like Database Resource Manager and Oracle WebLogic Work Managers. This allows each channel to be controlled at the architectural level to isolate and preserve capacity. This is important in cloud implementations for example to ensure that capacity is maintained. This also allows flexibility in processing capacity with rules for allocating capacity able to be specified at the channel level or lower.
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager and the Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities have been updated to reflect this new architecture to allow you to track and monitor appropriate metrics for the channel.

Over the next few releases, additional facilities will be included to enhance and reinforce the channel based architecture we have implemented. We feel that it will make implementations easier to plan and software easier to manage in the long term.

Database Resource Plan Support

Database resource plans in the database allow users and sessions limits to be managed to allow for finite control of resource usage on machines. They allow database administrators to set resource limits and configure resource sharing so that transactions, users and channels can have appropriate access to finite resources on the machine.

For Oracle Utilities products it is now possible to use database resource plans to control resources. The support varies with each version of Oracle Utilities Application Framework but the use cases you can use this for are as follows:

  • In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.x we introduced a different database user for each channel (online, web services and batch). These can be used in the database resource plan definition to control resources at a user level. In older versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework (V2.x) we supply common users but it was possible, using templates, to implement separate users for at least online and batch so Database Resource Plans can be implemented there as well. This means that you can setup plans at the user level to control resources if necessary.
  • In all versions of Oracle Utilities Application Framework we have a separate Read-Only user. This is used typically for reporting tools. You can attach resource plans to this user to limit the resources used by reporting tools (for example, CPU and time limits).
  • In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.x we introduced additional session values to display module, action, client_identifier and client_info for active sessions. It is possible to also use these values to setup advanced resource plans if desired.

Setting up database resource plans is done at the database level using database tools such as SQL*Plus, SQL Developer, EM Express or Oracle Enterprise Manager. A whitepaper has been written to explain the facility as well as a example plan which is available from My Oracle Support at Using the Database Resource Manager to Manage Database Server Resources (Doc ID 2067783.1).

Friday Nov 06, 2015

Whitepaper List as at November 2015

The following Oracle Utilities Application Framework technical whitepapers are available from My Oracle Support at the Doc Id's mentioned below. Some have been updated in the last few months to reflect new advice and new features.

Unless otherwise marked the technical whitepapers in the table below are applicable for the following products (with versions):

Doc Id Document Title Contents
ConfigLab Design Guidelines This whitepaper outlines how to design and implement a data management solution using the ConfigLab facility.
This whitepaper currently only applies to the following products:
Technical Best Practices for Oracle Utilities Application Framework Based Products Whitepaper summarizing common technical best practices used by partners, implementation teams and customers.
Performance Troubleshooting Guideline Series A set of whitepapers on tracking performance at each tier in the framework. The individual whitepapers are as follows:
  • Concepts - General Concepts and Performance Troublehooting processes
  • Client Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the browser client with common issues and resolutions.
  • Network Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the network with common issues and resolutions.
  • Web Application Server Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the Web Application Server with common issues and resolutions.
  • Server Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the Operating system with common issues and resolutions.
  • Database Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the database with common issues and resolutions.
  • Batch Troubleshooting - General troubleshooting of the background processing component of the product with common issues and resolutions.
Software Configuration Management Series
A set of whitepapers on how to manage customization (code and data) using the tools provided with the framework. Topics include Revision Control, SDK Migration/Utilities, Bundling and Configuration Migration Assistant. The individual whitepapers are as follows:
  • Concepts - General concepts and introduction.
  • Environment Management - Principles and techniques for creating and managing environments.
  • Version Management - Integration of Version control and version management of configuration items.
  • Release Management - Packaging configuration items into a release.
  • Distribution - Distribution and installation of releases across environments
  • Change Management - Generic change management processes for product implementations.
  • Status Accounting - Status reporting techniques using product facilities.
  • Defect Management - Generic defect management processes for product implementations.
  • Implementing Single Fixes - Discussion on the single fix architecture and how to use it in an implementation.
  • Implementing Service Packs - Discussion on the service packs and how to use them in an implementation.
  • Implementing Upgrades - Discussion on the the upgrade process and common techniques for minimizing the impact of upgrades.
Oracle Utilities Application Framework Security Overview A whitepaper summarizing the security facilities in the framework. Now includes references to other Oracle security products supported.
LDAP Integration for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products A generic whitepaper summarizing how to integrate an external LDAP based security repository with the framework.
Oracle Utilities Application Framework Integration Overview A whitepaper summarizing all the various common integration techniques used with the product (with case studies).
Single Sign On Integration for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products A whitepaper outlining a generic process for integrating an SSO product with the framework.
Oracle Utilities Application Framework Architecture Guidelines This whitepaper outlines the different variations of architecture that can be considered. Each variation will include advice on configuration and other considerations.
Batch Best Practices This whitepaper outlines the common and best practices implemented by sites all over the world.
Technical Best Practices V1 Addendum Addendum to Technical Best Practices for Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing V1.x only.
XAI Best Practices This whitepaper outlines the common integration tasks and best practices for the Web Services Integration provided by the Oracle Utilities Application Framework.
Oracle Identity Manager Integration Overview This whitepaper outlines the principals of the prebuilt intergration between Oracle Utilities Application Framework Based Products and Oracle Identity Manager used to provision user and user group security information. For Fw4.x customers use whitepaper 1375600.1 instead.
Production Environment Configuration Guidelines A whitepaper outlining common production level settings for the products based upon benchmarks and customer feedback.
1177265.1 What's New In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4?  Whitepaper outlining the major changes to the framework since Oracle Utilities Application Framework V2.2.
1290700.1 Database Vault Integration Whitepaper outlining the Database Vault Integration solution provided with Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.1.0 and above.
1299732.1 BI Publisher Guidelines for Oracle Utilities Application Framework Whitepaper outlining the interface between BI Publisher and the Oracle Utilities Application Framework
1308161.1 Oracle SOA Suite Integration with Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products This whitepaper outlines common design patterns and guidelines for using Oracle SOA Suite with Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products.
1308165.1 MPL Best Practices
This is a guidelines whitepaper for products shipping with the Multi-Purpose Listener.
This whitepaper currently only applies to the following products:
1308181.1 Oracle WebLogic JMS Integration with the Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper covers the native integration between Oracle WebLogic JMS with Oracle Utilities Application Framework using the new Message Driven Bean functionality and real time JMS adapters.
1334558.1 Oracle WebLogic Clustering for Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper covers process for implementing clustering using Oracle WebLogic for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products.
1359369.1 IBM WebSphere Clustering for Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper covers process for implementing clustering using IBM WebSphere for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products
1375600.1 Oracle Identity Management Suite Integration with the Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper covers the integration between Oracle Utilities Application Framework and Oracle Identity Management Suite components such as Oracle Identity Manager, Oracle Access Manager, Oracle Adaptive Access Manager, Oracle Internet Directory and Oracle Virtual Directory.
1375615.1 Advanced Security for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper covers common security requirements and how to meet those requirements using Oracle Utilities Application Framework native security facilities, security provided with the J2EE Web Application and/or facilities available in Oracle Identity Management Suite.
1486886.1 Implementing Oracle Exadata with Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing This whitepaper covers some advice when implementing Oracle ExaData for Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing.
878212.1 Oracle Utilities Application FW Available Service Packs This entry outlines ALL the service packs available for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework.
1454143.1 Certification Matrix for Oracle Utilities Products This entry outlines the software certifications for all the Oracle Utilities products.
1474435.1 Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities Overview This whitepaper covers the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities. This is a pack for Oracle Enterprise Manager.
1506830.1 Configuration Migration Assistant Overview
This whitepaper covers the Configuration Migration Assistant available for Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2.0.0.0. This replaces ConfigLab for some products.
1506855.1 Integration Reference Solutions
This whitepaper covers the various Oracle technologies you can use with the Oracle Utilities Application Framework.
1544969.1 Native Installation Oracle Utilities Application Framework This whitepaper describes the process of installing Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products natively within Oracle WebLogic.
1558279.1 Oracle Service Bus Integration  This whitepaper describes direct integration with Oracle Service Bus including the new Oracle Service Bus protocol adapters available. Customers using the MPL should read this whitepaper as the Oracle Service Bus replaces MPL in the future and this whitepaper outlines how to manually migrate your MPL configuration into Oracle Service Bus.

Note: In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2.0.1.0 and above, Oracle Service Bus Adapters for Outbound Messages and Notification/Workflow are available
1561930.1 Using Oracle Text for Fuzzy Searching This whitepaper describes how to use the Name Matching and  fuzzy operator facilities in Oracle Text to implemement fuzzy searching using the @fuzzy helper fucntion available in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2.0.0.0
1606764.1
Audit Vault Integration This whitepaper describes the integration with Oracle Audit Vault to centralize and separate Audit information from OUAF products. Audit Vault integration is available in OUAF 4.2.0.1.0 and above only.
1644914.1
Migrating XAI to IWS
Migration from XML Application Integration to the new native Inbound Web Services in Oracle Utilities Application Framework 4.2.0.2.0 and above.
1643845.1
Private Cloud Planning Guide
Planning Guide for implementing Oracle Utilities products on Private Clouds using Oracle's Cloud Foundation set of products.
1682436.1
ILM Planning Guide
Planning Guide for Oracle Utilities new ILM based data management and archiving solution.
1682442.1
ILM Implementation Guide for Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing
Implementation Guide for the ILM based solution for the Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing.
207303.1
Client / Server Interoperability Support Matrix
Certification Matrix.
1965395.1
Cache Nodes Configuration using BatchEdit utility
Using the new Batch Edit Wizard to configure batch quickly and easily
1628358.1
Overview and Guidelines for Managing Business Exceptions and Errors
Best Practices for To Do Management
2014163.1
Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities Overview
Overview of the new Oracle Utilities testing solution. Updated for 5.0.0.1.0.
1929040.1
ConfigTools Best Practices
Best Practices for using the configuration tools facility
2014161.1
Oracle Utilities Application Framework - Keystore Configuration
Managing the keystore

Oracle Utilities on Oracle Technology Network

Information about the Oracle Utilities solutions is now available from the Oracle Technology Network.

This site includes links to download software, find documentation, connect to the user community and learn more about our solutions.

Thursday Nov 05, 2015

Flow Builder/OpenScript and Oracle Test Manager

The Oracle Functional Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities provides the content to use Oracle Application Testing Suite to verify your business processes via flows using your test data for multiple scenarios.

Customers have asked the relationship with the tools in the Oracle Application Testing Suite. Here is the clarification:

  • The Oracle Functional Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities is loaded into the Oracle Flow Builder component of the Oracle Application Testing Suite Functional Testing product. The components represent all the functions within the product.
  • You build a flow, using drag and drop, sequencing the provided components that matches the business process you want to verify. If there is no component we ship that covers your extensions then you can use a supplied component builder to build a meta data based service component. If you want to model a user interface then OpenScript can be used to record a component to add to the component library.
  • You then can attach your test data. There are a number of techniques available for that. You can natively input the data if you wish into the component, generate a spreadsheet to fill in the data (and attach it after you filled it out) or supply a CSV data file that represents the data in the flow.
  • You generate (not code) a script. No additional coding is required. As part of the license you can code OpenScript if  you have developers for any work if you wish but it is typically not required.
  • You then have a choice to execute the script.
    • You can execute the script from the OpenScript tool in Eclipse (if you are a developer for example).
    • You can execute the script from a command line (for example you can do this from a third party test manager if you wish)
    • You can automatically execute the script from Oracle Test Manager. This will allow groups of script to be scheduled and it reports on the results for you.
    • You can load the script into the Oracle Load Testing toolset and include it in a performance test suite of tests.

Remember our testing pack is service based not user interface based. You will need to make sure that the Web Services Accelerator is installed.

Essentially Flow Builder builds the flow and script from the components in the pack, Openscript or Oracle Test Manager executes it for you.

Tuesday Nov 03, 2015

Updated Testing Advanced Pack Overview Whitepaper

An updated version of the Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities has been released on My Oracle Support at Doc Id: 2014163.1. The updates to the whitepaper include updates for the 5.0.0.0.0 release with the following information:

  •  Updates for the new content for Oracle Mobile Workforce Management, Oracle Real Time Scheduler, Oracle Utilities Application Framework, Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing and Oracle Work And Asset Management.
  • Updates for the new Component Builder and Component Verifier utilities that allow the addition of new custom components.
  • Updates to the Frequently Asked Questions covering licensing and the common implementation questions you may have about the Advanced Pack.

This new version now only adds new content and new capabilities but utilizes the power and facilities of the Oracle Application Testing Suite (Oracle Flow Builder, OpenScript and Oracle Load Testing) to deliver the ability to rapidly test, implement and upgrade Oracle Utilities products.

Thursday Oct 22, 2015

Oracle Utilities testing accelerator now available

The latest release of the Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities is now available from the Oracle Delivery Cloud. This is the new version of a testing accelerator available for Oracle Utilities products.

The tool allows implementations to reduce testing time significantly by:

  • Provide a prebuilt multi-product component library representing the scope of testing in an implementation. This component library can be used in Oracle Flow Builder.
  • Allow implementations to model business processes for verification by supporting the building of flows inside Oracle Flow Builder. This means business processes can be orchestrated instead of built using a programming resource. Flows can be reused for different testing scenarios and are built independently of the data used.
  • Allow implementations to attach databanks in the form of direct input, CSV files or Excel Spreadheets.
  • Generate the testing script for use in OpenScript, Oracle Test Manager or Oracle Load Testing. This is generated not developed. Again data can be attached at generation time or even post generation.

The testing accelerator consists of the following:

  • A comprehensive library of testing components that have been prebuilt and precertified for Oracle Utilities products in one pack. These components contain interface logic, prevalidations, preverifications and logic to test a particular feature of the product. These components are the same components used by our product Quality Assurance. We ship components for the following products:
    • Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing V2.5.0.1.0
    • Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management V2.2.0.3.x
    • Oracle Real Time Scheduler V2.2.0.3.x
    • Oracle Utilities Work And Asset Management V2.1.x
    • Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.1.x
  • We will be adding the following products in the 5.0.0.1.0 release in late November (subject to approvals):
    • Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing V2.4.0.3.0
    • Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management V2.1.x
    • Oracle Utilities Smart Grid Gateway (all adapters) V2.1.x
    • Oracle Utilities Operational Device Management V2.1.x
  • A set of utilities to allow implementations and partners to generate and verify custom components for any functionality not covered by the shipped components. These components have the same structure and features of the shipped components but cover any custom tables, custom structure etc you implemented. These custom components are then available in the component library. 
  • As set of sample flows to illustrates the components and their use. These samples can be run against the standard demonstration set of data for training purposes.
  • A set of documentation covering installation, best practices and component library information.

The testing accelerator has the following features:

  •  Component based approach that are service based. This isolates testing from changes to the user interface. This means reduction in maintaining testing scripts as any screen changes will be covered by the service based component.
  • Components cover online, web services and batch components.
  • Components will be shipped with each new release of supported products including service packs.
  • Customers who have validations in the user interface, which is not usually recommended from an architectural point of view, can use Oracle Application Testing Suite's user interface component generator to add the user interface based component to the library.
  • Components can be cloned and altered or generated from our meta data using our component builder.
  • Components can be grouped into Component Groups to support re usability across flows.
  • Flows map your business processes and can support multiple scenarios.
  • Flows can cross product boundaries and even across pack boundaries. This means if you have more than one Oracle Utilities product, flows can be built that cover all the Oracle Utilities products involved in a business process, including integrations. This extends to other OATS packs such as Oracle eBusiness Suite etc..For example, it is possible to construct a flow that tests the acceptable of a payment, its processing through your payment processing and tracked to the ERP records in your general ledger.
  • We supply components to communicate testing results. By default, we supply components that summarize the outcomes from a flow. This can be altered to send more information, send information to alternative locations or even send results to third party testing tools.
  • Data for databanks can entered natively against the components (with intelligent defaulting), from a CSV based file or even a spreadsheet.
  • Flows are generated into Openscript with databanks without the need for any additional programming. It is possible to use OpenScript to add new functionality, if desired, but it is not required.
  • When the script is generated, the databank is separated out, as a CSV, to allow implementations to use alternative databanks without the need for regeneration.
  • The generated script  can be executed from the OpenScript runtime in Eclipse or command line. It can also be executed via the Oracle Test Manager (optional) or Oracle Load Testing (optional).
  • Generated test scripts can be imported into Oracle Load Testing for load and performance testing. This requires a Load testing license and a license for the Load Controller.

We see the Testing accelerator as a key option for our Oracle Utilities products that will allow our customers to go live or upgrade much quicker with lower risk and lower cost.

Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack is available from Oracle Delivery Cloud today.


Monday Oct 19, 2015

Attending OpenWorld

Are you attending Oracle OpenWorld 2015?  Well I will be there as well. I will not be speaking this year, but I will be attending and talking to customers and partners during the conference. The Utilities team will be located at the Marriot Marquis. I will attending meetings and also running ad-hoc demonstrations of our latest releases of the Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities and our new exciting Testing product, Oracle Functional/Load Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities.

See you there..

About

Anthony Shorten
Hi, I am Anthony Shorten, I am the Principal Product Manager for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework. I have been working for over 20+ years in the IT Business and am the author of many a technical whitepaper, manual and training material. I am one of the product managers working on strategy and designs for the next generation of the technology used for the Utilities and Tax markets. This blog is provided to announce new features, document tips and techniques and also outline features of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. These products include Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing, Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management, Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management and Oracle Public Service Revenue Management. I am the product manager for the Management Pack for these products.

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