Announcements and Technical Advice for the Oracle
Utilities product community from the Product Management team

  • January 20, 2020

Tranisitioning to the Cloud Mindset

Anthony Shorten
Senior Principal Product Manager

A few months ago I was asked to educate a few employees on how to transition their mindset from an on-premise to take advantage of the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Services. They wanted to understand how they can think differently to take advantage of all the capabilities of the cloud to realize risk and cost savings.

Most people assume that the cloud implementation of the Oracle Utilities product is just an installation of the product. While technically this is correct, this short changes the value of the cloud and reduces the cost and risk savings. They wanted to understand how they can change their implementation philosophy so that they can best take advantage of the service. Some of the advice I offered is obvious but the context makes it more relevant.

Here is a summary of what I outlined in the session:

  • Understand the different responsibilities in the cloud. The cloud has variations such as Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS), Platform as A Service (PaaS) and Software As A Service (SaaS). Each of these are understood in terms of platform but you also need to appreciate them in terms of the implementation responsibilities. Whilst IaaS and PaaS are straightforward, SaaS does need some implementation clarifications. In the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud, whilst it is a full feature service there are expectations that the implementation team will run the product like they would run their business. For example:
    • All database work is handled as part of the service. The maintenance of the database is all handled by the service.
    • Extension work is still the responsibility of the implementation. There are tools to manage the extensions in a lower cost and risk manner.
    • The majority of security is handled by the service but the implementation is responsible for loading and maintaining the security definitions.
    • Batch processes can be loaded and schedules loaded but the implementation may modify the schedule and is responsible for the scheduling.

  • Understand the SaaS Solution. The Saas Cloud service is not just an installation of the product. It far more than that. The components in the solution include:
    • Oracle Utilities Product. Obviously the core part of the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service is the Oracle Utilities product central to that service. The technology configuration is optimized for multi-channel scalability with optimizations for the high performance, high availability and business continuity features of the Oracle Cloud.
    • Oracle Utilities Accelerator. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes an accelerator, which is a set of data and accelerator code, unique to each service offering. This allows existing customers to potentially reduce their extension spectrum as well as new customers a potential accelerated implementation.
    • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator. To support the cloud implementation the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator is provided with content related and unique to the Cloud Service it is attached to. This allows cloud customers the ability to rapidly test each release to keep up with the schedule of releases.
    • Oracle BI Publisher. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes an ad-hoc query and reporting capability that allows the data in the service to be reported effectively. The advantage of using BI Publisher is that it offers superior report writing capabilities as well as resource governance to reduce performance risks.
    • Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation. In any product implementation, there are processes that the implementation team need to perform to effectively manage the implementation. This is no different in the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service. Therefore, the Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation is provided, exclusively for the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service to provide the following management capability:
      • Process Automation. There are tasks that need to be performed by the implementation team on a regular basis. These have been implemented as Process Flows to allow the implementation team the traceability of the process. The steps in the process flow have been pre-configured and utilize exclusive cloud adapters to perform routine tasks. The Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation Administrative Users Guide outlines the delivered process for each cloud release.
      • Extension Management. Extensions in the cloud are managed using Configuration Migration Assistant (CMA). The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes exclusive configuration to allow the processing of accelerators, extensions as releases etc within this tool. The process is largely automated using Process Automation to reduce risk and costs.
      • Schedule Management. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes an inbuilt scheduler, namely the Oracle Scheduler. The Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation includes the user interface to manage and monitor the schedule for implementations.
      • Conversion Toolkit. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes a conversion toolkit that includes a staging schema and a set of conversion related batch processes that implement both "big bang" and "incremental" conversions. The principles are based upon the conversion capability which has been used across all traditional on-premise implementations.
      • Operations Capability. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes a set of operational capabilities including environment management and monitoring capabilities to allow implementations to perform routine operational tasks. Most of these tasks are automated using the Process Automation capabilities to reduce risk and cost.
    • Oracle Cloud API. As with all Oracle Cloud Services, there is a standard REST based API set to interface to the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service including its related components. This allows flexible integration scenarios to be implemented.
    • Oracle Identity Cloud Service (options). The identity of users in the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service can be managed by a variety of security configurations.
      • Embedded Identity. By default, a pre-built Oracle Identity Cloud Service can be included in the service which can be used exclusively to manage all identity by the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service.
      • Existing Oracle Identity Cloud. If the customer already takes advantage of other Oracle Cloud Services, then they can reuse their existing Oracle Identity Cloud Service to manage identity for that service.
      • Federated Security. If the customer has an external identity solution (external to the Oracle Cloud) or wants to use an on-premise identity solution, then there is a federated option (using OAuth2).
    • Database for all components. All of the above options, requires database level storage. All the database are housed in Oracle Exadata servers to maximize performance and data management options.
    • Oracle Object Storage Cloud.  All implementations require data storage for interfaces and integration. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service includes a flexible amount of raw storage.

  • Environments On The Cloud. One of the major differences in the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Services is the quick provisioning of new environments to support the implementation. There are three classes of environment:
    • Development. These are a set of environments where extension is performed. This can be one environment or extended to other environments. This has less restrictions but is sized smaller than other classes of environments to keep risk and costs low.
    • Testing. This class of environments it provided to verify the functionality of the configuration and functionality, prior to use in production.  These environment can be used for a cross spectrum of testing or related activities (including training if necessary). One of big advantages with the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud is that it is possible to provide a production size test environment.
    • Production. This is a single environment class reserved for production use. This environment includes additional high availability and business continuity capabilities.
    • Each environment is a complete solution isolated for use for that class of activities:

      • Oracle Utilities Product. The Oracle Utilities product at the basis of the service including the Oracle Utilities Application Framework to extend the service.
      • Oracle Utilities Accelerator. A cloud exclusive accelerator, preloaded upon provisioning, to accelerate the implementation of the service.
      • Oracle BI Publisher. An optimized business reporting and query tool for the service. This can be used to build reports or simply query data within the service with in-built resource governance.
      • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator. An inbuilt testing solution for the service with content optimized for the service. This service is not installed on Production environments.
      • Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation. A cloud exclusive set of operational and implementation capabilities reserved for use with each Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service. For example, conversion capabilities, operational workflows etc. This aspect is typically used by personnel administrating the service.
      • Oracle Utilities Databases. A set of databases, running on Oracle ExaData hardware, to support all the products in the service.
      • Oracle Object Storage. Raw storage is provided via the Object Storage Cloud. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service is pre-configured to use this service.
      • Oracle Utilities Data Connect. Data in and out of the service can be defined as part of the Data Connect capability built into the service.
      • Oracle Utilities Cloud API. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service is bound by a REST based API to allow integration and greater flexibility in implementation options.
      • For example:

Cloud Environments

  • Advanced Security. Security is one of the most important aspects of the Oracle Cloud with superior cloud infrastructure security as well as advanced security configuration within the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service itself. One of fundamental security practices is managing who accesses your cloud service via managing identity. Oracle has identity products traditionally used on premise to manage identity in a centralized cost effective way. These tools are now available as a fundamental building block in the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service. To meet the diverse needs for managing identity the service offers a number of identity possibilities:

    • Embedded Identity. The Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service can include an embedded identity solution to use exclusively with the service. This option is available to customers who only have one service on Oracle Cloud.
    • Shared Identity. If the customer already owns another Cloud Service and uses the Oracle Identity Cloud Service, it is possible to connect the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service to manage identity and take advantage of existing investments.
    • Federated Identity. If the customer already has an external identity solution or wishes to use a security repository external to the Oracle Cloud, then the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud Service can be configured to support identity federation.
  • Understanding the advantages of the Cloud. There are unique advantages of the cloud that you must be aware of to full exploit the capability:
    • Hardware On Demand. Given the fluctuations in demand for hardware during typical upgrade life-cycles and business volume fluctuations, having the ability to tap into hardware resources quickly is a huge benefit of the cloud. On-premise implementations can have long lead times, leaving the project at risk.
    • Self Service Capabilities. The cloud implementation includes a set of native cloud tools and tools designed specifically for the services to reduce costs through self service.
    • Scheduled Patching and Upgrades. One of the big advantages of the cloud is that the schedule for patching and upgrades is known before hand and has been  optimized for each service. This greatly reduces costs and risks.

Transitioning Your Skills

One the last things I talked about was how do I transition my on-premise skill set to an on-cloud skillset. Here were my tips:

  • Take advantage of the online information available with the service. Oracle supplies additional online documentation with each service to help you understand how to manage your service in respect to your business as well as patch and upgrade information to cloud customers.
  • Change your extension mindset to a reuse mindset. Whilst it is possible to transition your existing extensions to the cloud, using various techniques, a huge cost saving is to take advantage of the base and/or cloud accelerator functionality to reduce your extension risk and costs.
  • Understand every aspect of your service. Understand what you are getting with the service to know what you can and cannot do.
  • Do not worry about the things you do not need to worry. This is my number one piece of advice. The service provides a lot of capability and reduces risk by shifting responsibility of some processes to Oracle. For example, Oracle manages performance and backup for you. You don't have to test for those as they are already been tested for you. By taking advantage of what can and not worrying about the things handled by Oracle, you can go a long way to realize that lower risk and lower cost.

Join the discussion

Comments ( 2 )
  • Rakesh S Monday, May 4, 2020
    Hi Anthony,

    Do we get C2M and CCB version or 2.8.0 or the sole focus would be on SaaS products in the future?
  • Anthony Shorten Monday, May 4, 2020
    No as we announced at the user conference this year, cloud releases are done three times a year and on-premise releases done once a year going forward.
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