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:
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.