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Oracle Utilities Documentation

Mon, 2018-10-08 22:20

One of the most common questions I get from partners and customers is the location of the documentation for the product. In line with most Oracle products there are three locations for documentation:

  • Online Help. The product ships with online help which has information about the screens and advice on the implementation and extension techniques available. Of course, this assumes you have installed the product first. Help can be accessed using the assigned keyboard shortcut or using the help icon on the product screens.
  • Oracle Software Delivery Cloud. Along with the installation media for the products, it is possible to download PDF versions of all the documentation for offline use. This is usually indicated on the download when selecting the version of the product to down though it can downloaded at anytime.
  • Oracle Utilities Help Center. As with other Oracle products, all the documentation is available online via the Oracle Help Center (under Industries --> Utilities).

The following documentation is available:

Document Usage Audience Release Notes Summary of the changes and new features in the Oracle Utilities product Implementation Teams Quick Install Summary of the technical installation process including prerequisites UNIX Administrators Installation Guide Detailed software installation guide for the Oracle Utilities product. UNIX Administrators Optional Products Installation Summary of any optional additional or third party products used for the Oracle Utilities product. This guide only exists if optional products are certified/supported with the product. UNIX Administrators Database Administrator's Guide Installation, management and guidelines for use with the Oracle Utilities product. DBA Administrators Licensing Information User Manual Legal license information relating to the Oracle Utilities product and related products UNIX Administrators Administrative User Guide Offline copy of the Administration documentation for the Oracle Utilities product. This is also available via the online help installed with the product. Implementation Teams, Developers Business User Guide Offline copy of the Business and User documentation for the Oracle Utilities product. This is also available via the online help installed with the product. Implementation Teams, Developers Package Organization Summary Summary of the different packages included in the Oracle Utilities product. This may not exist for single product installations. Implementation Teams Server Administration Guide Guide to the technical configuration settings, management utilities and other technical architecture aspects of the Oracle Utilities product. UNIX Administrators Security Guide Guide to the security aspects of the Oracle Utilities product centralized in a single document. Covers both security functionality and technical security capabilities. This is design for use by Security personnel to design their security solutions. Implementation Teams API Reference Notes Summary of the API's provided with the Oracle Utilities product. This is also available via online features. Developers Developers Guide This is the Oracle Utilities SDK guide for using the Eclipse based development tools for extending the Oracle Utilities product using Java. Partners using the ConfigTools or Groovy should use the Administrative User Guide instead. Developers

Be familiar with this documentation as well as Oracle Support which has additional Knowledge Base articles.

Oracle Utilities Technical Best Practices whitepaper updated

Thu, 2018-10-04 18:21

With the release of Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0 the Technical Best Practices whitepaper has been updated with the latest advice and latest information.

The following changes have been made:

  • Overview of the Health Check capability
  • Preparing your Implementation for the Oracle Cloud - An overview of the objects that need to be changed to prepare for the migration from on-premise to the Oracle Cloud
  • Optimization techniques for minimizing costs.

The latest version is located in Technical Best Practices (Doc Id: 560367.1) available from My Oracle Support.

Running OUAF Database Installation in Non-Interactive Mode

Wed, 2018-10-03 23:47

Over the past few releases, the Oracle Utilities Application Framework introduced Java versions of our installers which were originally shipped as part of the Oracle Application Management Pack for Oracle Utilities (for Oracle Enterprise Manager). To use these utilities you need to set the CLASSPATH as outlined in the DBA Guides shipped with the product. Each product ships a Install-Upgrade sub-directory which contains the install files. Change to that directory to perform the install. If you want some custom storage parameters update Storage,xml and StorageOps.xml files.

Use the following command line to install the database components:

java -Xmx1500M com.oracle.ouaf.oem.install.OraDBI -d jdbc:oracle:thin:@<DB_SERVER>:<PORT>/<SID>,<DBUSER>,<DBPASS>,<RW_USER>,<R_USER>,<RW_USER_ROLE>,<R_USER_ROLE>,<DBUSER> -l 1,2 -j $JAVA_HOME

Where:

Parameter Comments <DB_SERVER> Host Name for Database Server <PORT> Listener Port for Database Server <SID> Database Service Name (PDB or non-PDB) <DBUSER> Administration Account for product (owns the schema) (created in earlier step) <DBPASS> Password for Administration Account (created in earlier step) <RW_USER> Database Read-Write User for Product (created in earlier step) <R_USER> Database Read Only User for Product (created in earlier step) <RW_USER_ROLE> Database Role for Read Write (created in earlier step) <R_USER_ROLE> Database Role for Read (created in earlier step)

That will run the install directly.

If you added additional users to your installation and want to generate the security definitions for those users then you need to run the new oragensec utility:

java -Xmx1500M com.oracle.ouaf.oem.install.OraGenSec -d <DBUSER>,<DBPASS>,jdbc:oracle:thin:@<DB_SERVER>:<PORT>/<SID> -a A -r <R_USER_ROLE>,<RW_USER_ROLE> -u <RW_USER>,<R_USER>

Where <RW_USER> is the additional user that you want to generate security for. You will need to provide <R_USER> as well.

What's New In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 Whitepaper updated

Thu, 2018-09-27 15:53

The What's New In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 has been updated to reflect the latest changes implemented in Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0. The whitepaper has been updated with the latest information and is in the new whitepaper format to make it easier to read.

This is one of the last updates to this whitepaper as it was designed to help older Oracle Utilities Application Framework V2.x customers to understand the changes to the Oracle Utilities Application Framework since those releases. Given most of the information is already in the release notes and the vast majority of customers are in the process of migration or have migrated successfully, the whitepaper has limited use after the next service pack or major release.

The whitepaper is available for download from What's New In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 (Doc Id: 1177265.1) from My Oracle Support.

New Process Flow Functionality

Tue, 2018-09-25 14:41

In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0 we introduced an exciting new capability to model and process multi-step long running business processes solely using the ConfigTools functionality. The capability allows implementation to specify a complex step by step process, with associated objects, to perform a business process with the following capabilities:

  • Forward and Back. The ability to move forward though a process and also backtrack in the process if the process permits it. For example, you might be interacting with a customer on the phone or via chat and the customer changes their mind about a particular part of the process. The operator can move back to the relevant part of the process to correct the interaction. A train UI element has been added to visually emphasize the location in the process. For example:

Example Train

  • Save At Any Time.  The ability to pause and save a business process in transit at any time. The Process Flow will pick up from the save point to continue the process.
  • Model Complex Processing. It is possible to model simple and complex processing with branching, multiple panel support and panel group support. The latter allows groups of panels within a single step to be modeled.
  • State Query. A Process Flow State Query has been introduced to allow for users to find processes in progress and deal with them appropriately. For example:

Example Process Flow Query

  • Flexible Configuration. From a single maintenance dialog the Process Flow can be configured including Flow Attributes, Panel sequences, conditions and buttons visible at each stage. It should be noted that a library of common objects including UI Maps is provided with the capability to reduce the configuration effort. For example:

Example Flow Configuration

The Process View is used in the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based applications to deliver key processes out of the box for on-premise and extensively in the Oracle Utilities Cloud Services (SaaS) accelerators. It is also used in the Oracle Utilities Cloud Service Foundation which is a component provided with each Oracle Utilities Cloud Service (SaaS).

Refer to the online documentation for details of the capability as well as sequences of objects to create to use this facility.

Cube Explorer - A new way of viewing your data

Mon, 2018-09-24 18:28

One of the most common uses for spreadsheets these days is to Pivot information. It is a way of displaying information using multiple dimensions in a way that make it easier to analyze. In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0, introduces a new zone paradigm called the Cube Viewer which allows for pivot style analysis to be configured and made available to authorized users.

The Cube Viewer is a new way of displaying and analyzing information with the following capabilities:

  • Dynamic Configuration. End users can dynamically change the look and subset of data available to the Cube within the user interface.
  • Save and Load Views. As with other zones, it is possible to save all the dynamic configuration for reuse across sessions. This allows optimizations at the user level.
  • Configurable Selection Criteria. Allows for users to supply criteria for sub-setting the data to be displayed. For example:

Example Selection Criteria

  • Comparison Support. Allowing two sets of criteria data to be available for comparison purposes. For example:

Example Comparison Criteria

  • Different Views. It is possible to view the data in a variety of formats including data views or graphically. This helps users to understand data in the style they prefer. It is possible to even see the raw data that the analysis was based upon. For example:

Example different views

  • Multiple Dimensions Supported. The dimensions for the Cube are available including any dimensions not shown but available. For example:

Example dimensions

  • Configurable View Columns. List of columns to display for selection. For example:

Example value columns

  • Flexible Formatting.  The Cube Viewer allows for custom formula to be dynamically added for on the fly analysis.

Example formatting

  • Dynamic Filtering. The Cube Viewers allows for filters to be dynamically imposed at both the global and hierarchical levels to allow for focused analysis.

Example Filtering

To use Cube Viewer the following can be configured:

  • Query Portal - A query portal is built containing the SQL and any derived columns for use in the analysis. Filters (User and Hidden) are specified for use in the Cube Viewer. Column displayed are used as the basis for the Cube Viewer display.
  • Business Service - The query portal is defined as a Business Service using the standard FWLZDEXP application service.
  • Cube Type (New Object) - Define the Service and capabilities of the cube in a new object.
  • Cube View (New Object) - Define the Portal to display the Cube Viewer/Cube Type

This process is shown as follows:

Configuration Overview

The Cube Viewer is an exciting new way of allowing users to interact with data and provide value added analysis.

Note: This capability can be used independently of the use of the Oracle Database In-Memory capability. Use with the Oracle Database In-Memory can allow for more advanced analytics to be implemented with increased performance.

For more information about the Cube Viewer, refer to the online documentation supplied with the product.

New Batch Level Of Service Algorithms

Sun, 2018-09-23 18:25

Batch Level Of Service allows implementations to register a service target on individual batch controls and have the Oracle Utilities Application Framework assess the current performance against that target.

In past releases of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework the concept of Batch Level Of Service was introduced. This is an algorithm point that assess the value of a performance metric against a target and returns the appropriate response to that target. By default, if configured, the return value is returned on the Batch Control maintenance screen or whenever called. For example:

Example Batch Control

It was possible to build an algorithm to set and check the target and return the appropriate level. This can be called manually, be available via the Health Service API or used in custom Query Portals. For example:

Example Portal

In this release a number of enhancements have been introduced:

  • Possible to specify multiple algorithms. If you want to model multiple targets it is now possible to link more than one algorithm to a batch control. The appropriate level will be returned (the worst case) for the multiple algorithms.
  • More Out Of The Box algorithms. In past releases a basic generic algorithm was supplied but additional algorithms are now provided to include additional metrics:
Batch Control Description F1-BAT-LVSVC Original Generic Algorithm to evaluate Error Count and Time Since Completion F1-BAT-ERLOS Compare Count Of Records in Error to Threshold F1-BAT-RTLOS Compare Total Batch Run Time to Threshold F1-BAT-TPLOS Compare Throughput to Threshold

For more information about these algorithms refer to the algorithm entries themselves and the online documentation.

New File Adapter - Native File Storage

Thu, 2018-09-20 17:59

In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0, a new File Adapter has been introduced to parameterize locations across environments. In previous releases, environment variables or path's where hard coded to implement locations of files.

With the introduction of the Oracle Utilities Cloud SaaS Services, the location of files are standardized and to reduce maintenance costs, these paths are not parameterized using an Extendable Lookup (F1-FileStorage) defining the path alias and the physical location. The on-premise version of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0 supports local storage (including network storage) using this facility. The Oracle Utilities Cloud SaaS version supports both local (predefined) and Oracle Object Storage Cloud.

For example:

Example Lookup

To use the alias in any FILE-PATH (for example) the URL is used in the FILE-PATH:

file-storage://MYFILES/mydirectory  (if you want to specify a subdirectory under the alias)

or

file-storage://MYFILES

Now, if you migrate to another environment (the lookup is migrated using Configuration Migration Assistant) then this record can be altered. If you are moving to the Cloud then this adapter can change to Oracle Object Storage Cloud. This reduces the need to change individual places that uses the alias.

It is recommended to take advantage of this capability:

  • Create an alias per location you read or write files from in your Batch Controls. Define it using the Native File Storage adapter. Try and create the minimum number of alias as possible to reduce maintenance costs.
  • Change all the FILE-PATH parameters in your batch controls to the use the relevant file-storage URL.

If you decide to migrate to the Oracle Utilities SaaS Cloud, these Extensable Lookup values will be the only thing that changes to realign the implementation to the relevant location on the Cloud instance. For on-premise implementation and the cloud, these definitions are now able to be migrated using Configuration Migration Assistant.

Object Erasure capability introduced in 4.3.0.6.0

Wed, 2018-09-19 17:45

With data privacy regulations around the world being strengthened data management principles need to be extended to most objects in the product. In the past, Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) was introduced for transaction object management and is continued to be used today in implementations for effective data management. When designing the ILM capability, it did not make sense to extend it to be used for Master data such as Account, Persons, Premises, Meters, Assets, Crews etc as data management and privacy rules tend to be different for these types of objects.

In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0, we have introduced Object Erasure to support Master Data and take into account purging as well as obfuscation of data. This new capability is complementary to Information Lifecycle Management to offer full data management capability. This new capability does not replace Information Lifecycle Management or depends on Information Lifecycle Management being licensed. Customers using Information Lifecycle Management in conjunction with Object Erasure can implement full end to end data management capabilities.

The idea behind Object Erasure is as follows:

  • Any algorithm can call the Manage Erasure algorithm on the associated Maintenance Object to check for the conditions to ascertain that the object is eligible for object erasure. This is flexible to allow implementations to have the flexibility to initiate the process from a wide range of possibilities. This can be as simple as checking some key fields or some key data on an object (you decide the criteria). The Manage Erasure algorithm is used to detect the conditions, collate relevant information and call the F1-ManageErasureSchedule Business Service to create an Erasure Schedule Business Object in a Pending state to initiate the process. A set of generic Erasure Schedule Business Objects is provided (for example, a generic Purge Object for use in Purging data) and you can create your own to record additional information.
  • The Erasure Schedule BO has three states which can be configured with algorithms (usually Enter Algorithms, a set are provided for reuse with the product).
    • Pending - This is the initial state of the erasure
    • Erased - This is the most common final state indicating the object has been erased or been obfuscated.
    • Discarded - This is an alternative final state where the record can be parked (for example, if the object becomes eligible, an error has occurred in the erasure or reversal of obfuscation is required).
  • A new Erasure Monitor (F1-OESMN) Batch Control can be used to transition the Erasure Schedule through its states and perform the erasure or obfuscation activity.

Here is a summary of this processing:

Erasure Flow

Note: The base supplied Purge Enter algorithm (F1-OBJERSPRG) can be used for most requirements. It should be noted that it does not remove the object from the _K Key tables to avoid conflicts when reallocating identifiers.

The solution has been designed with a portal to link all the element together easily and the product comes with a set of pre-defined objects ready to use. The portal also allows an implementer to configure Erasure Days which is effectively the number of days the record remains in the Erasure Schedule before being considered by the Erasure Monitor (a waiting period basically).

Erasure Configuration

As an implementer you can just build the Manage Erasure algorithm to detect the business event or you can also write the algorithms to perform all of the processing (and every variation in between). The Erasure will respect any business rules configured for the Maintenance Object so the erasure or obfuscation will only occur if the business rules permit it.

Customers using Information Lifecycle Management can manage the storage of Erasure Schedule objects using Information Lifecycle Management.

Objects Provided

The Object Erasure capability supplies a number of objects you can use for your implementation:

  • Set of Business Objects. A number of Erasure Schedule Business Objects such as F1-ErasureScheduleRoot (Base Object), F1-ErasureScheduleCommon (Generic Object for Purges) and F1-ErasureScheduleUser (for user record obfuscation). Each product may ship additional Business Objects.
  • Common Business Services. A number of Business Services including F1-ManageErasureSchedule to use within your Manage Erasure algorithm to create the necessary Erasure Schedule Object.
  • Set of Manage Erasure Algorithms. For each predefined Object Erasure object provided with the product, a set of Manage Erasure algorithms are supplied to be connected to the relevant Maintenance Object.
  • Erasure Monitor Batch Control. The F1-OESMN Batch Control provided to manage the Erasure Schedule Object state transition.
  • Enter Algorithms. A set of predefined Enter algorithms to use with the Erasure Schedule Object to perform common outcomes including Purge processing.
  • Erasure Portal. A portal to display and maintain the Object Erasure configuration.
Refer to the online documentation for further advice on Object Erasure.

Oracle Utilities Customer To Meter/Customer Care And Billing 2.7.0.0.0 is available

Tue, 2018-09-18 19:03

Oracle Utilities Customer To Meter 2.7.0.0.0 and Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing 2.7.0.0.0 are now available for download from Oracle eDelivery Cloud. These new releases are based upon Oracle Utilities Application Framework 4.3.0.6.0 with new and updated functionality.

For details of the release, refer to the release notes and documentation available from Oracle eDelivery Cloud and Oracle Utilities Help Center.

Inbound Web Services - REST Services

Tue, 2018-09-18 14:43

In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0, the Inbound Web Services object has been extended to support both SOAP and REST based services. This has a lot of advantages:

  • Centralized web services registration. The interface Application Programming Interface (API) are now centralized in the Inbound Web Services object. This means you can manage all your programmatic interfaces from a single object. This helps when using the Web Service Catalog used for Oracle Integration Cloud Service as well as any API management capabilities.
  • Isolation from change. One of the major features of the REST capability within Inbound Web Services is the the URI is no longer fixed but can be different from the underlying service. This means you can isolate your interface clients from changes.
  • Standardization. The Inbound Web Services object has inherent standards that can be reused across both SOAP and REST based services. For example, the ConfigTools object model can be directly wired into the service reducing time.
  • Reduced cost of maintenance. One of the features of the new capability is to group all your interfaces into a minimal number of registrations. This reduces maintenance and allows you to control groups of interfaces easily.

The Inbound Web Services now supports two Web Service Classes:

  • SOAP - Traditional XAI and IWS based services based around the SOAP protocol. These services will be deployed to the Oracle WebLogic Server.
  • REST - RESTful based services that are now registered for use. These services are NOT deployed as they are used directly using the REST execution engine.

Inbound Web Service Business Object

For REST Services, a new optimized maintenance function is now available. This facility has the following capabilities:

  • Multiple Services in one definition. It is now possible to define multiple REST services in one registration. This reduces maintenance effort and the interfaces can be enabled and disabled at the Inbound Web Service level. Each REST Service is regarded as an operation on the Inbound Web Service.
  • Customizable URI for service. The URL used for the REST Service can be the same or different than the operation.
  • Business Object Support. In past releases, Business Objects were not supported. In this release, there are some limited support for Business Objects. Refer to the Release Notes and online documentation for clarification of level of support.
  • Open API Support.  This release introduces Open API support for documenting the REST API.

For example, the new Inbound Web Services maintenance function for REST is as follows:

Example REST Inbound Web Service definition

Active REST Services are available to the REST execution engine.

Open API (OAS3) Support has been introduced which provides the following:

  • Documentation of the API in various formats. The documentation of the REST based API based upon the meta data stored in the product.
  • Ability to authorize Inbound Web Services directly in Open API. It is possible to authorize the API directly from the Open API documentation. Developers can check the API prior to making it active.
  • Multiple formats supported. Developers can view payloads in various formats including Model format.
  • Ability to download the API. You can download the API directly from the documentation in Open API format. This allows the API to be imported into Development IDE's.
  • Ability to testing inline. Active API's can be tested directly into the documentation.

The following are examples of the documentation:

API Header including Authorization (Note: Server URL is generic as this server is NOT active).

Open API Support - Authorization

Operation/API List:

Open API Support - URL List

Request API with inbuilt testing facility:

Open API Support - API Request

Response API with response codes:

Open API Support - API Response

Model Format:

Open API Support - Model List

For more information about REST support, refer to the online documentation or Web Services Best Practices (Doc Id: 2214375.1) from My Oracle Support.

Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0 Release

Mon, 2018-09-17 18:05

Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.6.0 based products will be released over the coming months. As with past release the Oracle Utilities Application Framework has been enhanced with new and updated features for on-premise, hybrid and cloud implementations of Oracle Utilities products.

The Oracle Utilities Application Framework continues to provide a flexible and wide ranging set of common services and technology to allow implementations the ability to meet the needs of their customers.  The latest release provides a wide range of new and updated capabilities to reduce costs and introduce exciting new functionality. The products ships with a complete listing of the changes and new functionality but here are some highlights:

  • Improved REST Support - The REST support for the product has been enhanced in this release. It is now possible to register REST Services in Inbound Web Services as REST. Inbound Web Services definitions have been enhanced to support both SOAP and REST Services. This has the advantage that the registration of integration is now centralized and the server URL for the services can be customized to suit individual requirements. It is now possible to register multiple REST Services within a single Inbound Web Services to reduce costs in management and operations. Execution of the REST Services has been enhanced to use the Registry as the first reference for a service. No additional deployment effort is necessary for this capability. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Improved Web Registry Support for Integration Cloud Service - With the changes in REST and other integration changes such as Categories and supporting other adapters, the Web Service Catalog has been expanded to add support REST and other services directly for integration registration for use in the Oracle Integration Cloud.
  • File Access Adapter - In this release a File Adapter has been introduced to allow implementations to parameterize all file integration to reduce costs of management of file paths and ease the path to the Oracle Cloud. In Cloud implementations, an additional adapter is available to allow additional storage on the Oracle Object Storage Cloud to supplement cloud storage for Oracle Utilities SaaS solutions. The File Access Adapter includes an Extendable Lookup to define alias and physical location attributes. That lookup can then be used an alias for file paths in Batch Controls, etc.. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Batch Start/End Date Time now part of Batch Instance Object - In past releases the Batch Start and End Dates and times where located as data elements with the thread attributes. This made analysis harder to perform. In this release these fields have been promoted as reportable fields directly on the Batch Instance Object for each thread. This will improve capabilities for reporting performance of batch jobs. For backward compatibility, these fields are only populated for new executions. The internal Business Service F1-GetBatchRunStartEnd has been extended to support the new columns and also detect old executions to return the correct values regardless.
  • New Level of Service Algorithms - In past releases, Batch Level Of Service required the building of custom algorithms for checking batch levels. In this release additional base algorithms for common scenarios like Total Run Time, Throughput and Error Rate are now provided for use. Additionally, it is now possible to define multiple Batch Level Of Service algorithms to model complex requirements. The Health Check API has been enhanced to return the Batch Level Of Service as well as other health parameters. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Job Scope in DBMS_SCHEDULER interface - The DBMS_SCHEDULER Interface allowed for specification Batch Control and Global level of parameters as well as at runtime. In this release, it is possible to pre-define parameters within the interface at the Job level, allowing for support for control of individual instances Batch Controls that are used more than once across chains.
  • Ad-hoc Recalculation of To Do Priority - In the past release of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework an algorithm to dynamically reassess ad recalculate a To Do Priority was introduced. In this release, it is possible to invoke this algorithm in bulk using the new provided F1-TDCLP Batch Control.  This can be used with the algorithm to reassess To Do's to improve manual processing.
  • Introduction of a To Do Monitor Process and Algorithm - One of the issues with To Do's in the field has been that users can forget to manually close the To Do when the issue that caused the condition has been resolved. In this release a new batch control F1-TDMON and a new Monitor algorithm on the To Do Type has been added so that logic can be introduced to detect the resolution of the issue can lead to the product automatically closing the To Do.
  • New Schema Editor - Based upon feedback from partners and customers, the usability and capabilities of the Schema Editor have been improved to provide more information as part of the basic views to reduce rework and support cross browser development.
  • Process Flow Editor - A new capability has been added to the Oracle Utilities Application Framework to allow for complex workflows to be modeled and fully capable workflow introduced. This includes train support (including advanced navigation), saving incomplete work support, branching and object integration. This process flow editor was introduced internally successfully to use for our cloud automation in the Oracle Utilities Cloud Services Foundation and has now been introduced, in a new format, for use across the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Improved Google Chrome Support - This release introduces extensive Google Chrome for Business support. Check the availability with each of the individual Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products.
  • New Cube Viewer - In the Oracle Utilities Market Settlements product we introduced a new Cube Viewer to embed advanced analytics into our products. That capability has been made generic and now included in the Oracle Utilities Application Framework so that products and implementations can now build their own cube analytical capabilities. In this release a series of new objects and ConfigTools objects have been introduce to build Cube Viewer based solutions. Note: The Cube Viewer has been built to operate independently of Oracle In-Memory Database support but would greatly benefit from use with Oracle In-Memory Database. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Object Erasure Support - To support various data privacy regulations introduced across the world, a new Object Erasure capability has been introduced to manage the erasure or obfuscation of master objects within the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. This capability is complementary to the Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) capability introduced to manage transaction objects within the product. A number of objects and ConfigTools objects have been introduced to allow implementations to add Object Erasure to their implementations. A separate article on this topic will provide additional information.
  • Proactive Update ILM Switch Support - In past release, ILM eligibility and the ILM switch was performed in bulk exclusively by the ILM batch processes or using the Automatic Data Optimization (ADO) feature of the Oracle Database. To work more efficiently, it is now possible use the new BO Enter Status plug-in and BO Exit Status plug-in to proactively assess the eligibility and set the ILM switch as part of processing, thus reducing ILM workloads.
  • Mobile Framework Auto Deploy Support - This releases includes a new optional parameter to auto deploy mobile content automatically when a deployment is saved. This can avoid the extra manual deployment step, if desired.
  • Required Indicator on Legacy Screens - In past releases, the required indicator, based upon meta data, has been introduced for ConfigTools based objects, in this release it has been extended to Oracle Utilities Application Framework using legacy screens built using the Oracle Utilities SDK or custom JSP (that confirm to the standards required by the Oracle Utilities Application Framework). Note: Some custom JSP's may contain logic to prevent the correct display the required indicator.
  • Oracle Identity Manager integration improved - In this release the integration with Oracle Identity Manager has been improved with multiple adapters supported and the parameters are now located as a Feature Configuration rather than properties settings. This allows the integration setup to be migrated using Configuration Migration Assistant.
  • Outbound Message Mediator Improvements - In previous releases, implementations were required to use the Outbound Message Dispatcher (F1-OutmsgMediator) business services to send an outbound message without instantiating it but where the outbound message Business Object pre-processing algorithms need to be executed.  This business service orchestrated a creation and deletion of the outbound message, which is not desirable for performance reasons. The alternate business service Outbound Message Mediator (F1-OutmsgMediator) routes a message without instantiating anything, so is preferred when the outbound message should not be instantiated.  However, the Mediator did not execute the Business Object pre-processing algorithms.  In this release the Mediator business service has been enhanced to also execute the Business Object pre-processing algorithms.
  • Deprecations - In this release a few technologies and capabilities will be removed as they were announced in previous releases. These include:
    • XAI Servlet/MPL - After announcing the deprecation of XAI and MPL in 2012, the servlet and MPL software are no longer available in this release. XAI Objects are retained for backward compatibility and last minute migrations to IWS and OSB respectively.
    • Batch On WebLogic - In the Oracle Cloud, batch threadpools were managed under Oracle WebLogic. Given changes to the architecture over the last few releases, the support for threadpools is no longer supported. As this functionality was never released for use on-premise customers, this change does not have any impact to on-premise customers.
    • WebLogic Templates - With the adoption of Oracle WebLogic 12.2+, the necessity of custom WebLogic templates was no longer necessary. It is now possible to use the standard Fusion Middleware templates supplied with Oracle WebLogic with a few manual steps. These additional manual steps are documented in the new version of the Installation Guide supplied with the product. Customers may continue to use the Domain Builder supplied with Oracle WebLogic to build custom templates post Oracle Utilities Application Framework product installation. Customers should stop using the Native Installation or Clustering whitepaper documentation for Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.3.0.5.0 and above as this information is now inside the Installation Guide directly or Oracle WebLogic 12.2.1.x Configuration Guide (Doc Id: 2413918.1) available from My Oracle Support.

A number of additional articles will be published over the next few weeks going over some of these topics as well as updates to key whitepapers will be published.

Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Whitepaper Updates

Wed, 2018-09-12 18:07

The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Whitepaper has been updated with the latest information about the Testing capability optimized for Oracle Utilities.

The documentation is available at Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator for Oracle Utilities (Doc Id: 2014163.1) from My Oracle Support.

The article includes the following updated documents:

  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Overview - Overview of the testing solution and how it optimizes the test experience.
  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Frequently Asked Questions - Set of common questions and answers about the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator including migration from the previous Oracle Application Testing Suite based solution.
  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Data Sheet (New) -  A brochure about the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator.

Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator training is now available via the Oracle University training on-demand.

Patches available for Internet Explorer 11 performance

Tue, 2018-08-07 21:45

A number of Oracle Utilities Customer and Billing customers have reported some performance issues with Internet Explorer 11 in particular situations. After analysis, it was ascertained that the issue was within Internet Explorer itself. An article is available at Known UI Performance Issues on Internet Explorer 11 (Doc Id: 2430962.1) from My Oracle Support with an explanation of the issues and advice on patches recommended to install to minimize the issue for affected versions.

It is highly recommended to read the article and install the patches to minimize any issues with Internet Explorer 11.

Keep up to Date With Critical Patches

Wed, 2018-08-01 20:39

One of the most important recommendations I give to customers is to keep up to date with the latest patches, especially all the security patches, to improve performance and reduce risk.

For more information refer to the following sites:

Oracle WebLogic, Oracle Linux, Oracle Solaris and Oracle Database patches apply to Oracle Utilities products.

Using Groovy Whitepaper available

Sun, 2018-07-29 18:33

Groovy is an alternative language for building extensions for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products for on-premise and cloud implementations. For Cloud implementations it is the preferred language replacing java based extensions typically available for on-premise implementations. The implementation of Groovy in the Oracle Utilities Application Framework extends the scripting object to allow Groovy script, Groovy includes and Groovy libraries to be implemented. This is all controlled using a whitelist to ensure that the code is appropriate for the cloud implementation.

A new whitepaper is available outlining the Groovy capability as well as some guidelines on how to use Groovy to extend Oracle Utilities products. It is available as Using Groovy Script in Oracle Utilities Applications (Doc Id: 2427512.1) from My Oracle Support.

New Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator (6.0.0.0)

Fri, 2018-06-29 14:02

I am pleased to announce the next chapter in automated testing solutions for Oracle Utilities products. In the past some Oracle Utilities products have used Oracle Application Testing Suite with some content to provide an amazing functional and regression testing solution. Building upon that success, a new solution named the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator has been introduced that is an new optimized and focused solution for Oracle Utilities products.

The new solution has the following benefits:

  • Component Based. As with the Oracle's other testing solutions, this new solution is based upon testing components and flows with flow generation and databank support. Those capabilities were popular with our existing testing solution customers and exist in expanded forms in the new solution.
  • Comprehensive Content for Oracle Utilities. As with Oracle's other testing solutions, supported products provided pre-built content to significantly reduce costs in adoption of automation. In this solution, the number of product within the Oracle Utilities portfolio has greatly expanded to provide content. This now includes both on-premise product as well as our growing portfolio of cloud based solutions.
  • Self Contained Solution.  The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator architecture has been simplified to allow customers to quickly deploy the product with the minimum of fuss and prerequisites.
  • Used by Product QA. The Oracle Utilities Product QA teams use this product on a daily basis to verify the Oracle Utilities products. This means that the content provided has been certified for use on supported Oracle Utilities products and reduces risk of adoption of automation.
  • Behavior-Driven Development Support. One of most exciting capabilities introduced in this new solution, is the support for Behavior-Driven Development (BDD), which is popular with the newer Agile based implementation approaches. One of the major goals of the new testing capability is reduce rework from the Agile process into the building of test assets. This new capability introduces Machine Learning into the testing arena for generating test flows from Gherkin syntax documentation from Agile approaches. A developer can reuse their Gherkin specifications to generate a flow quickly without the need for rework. As the capability uses Machine Learning, it can be corrected if the assumptions it makes are incorrect for the flow and those corrections will be reused for any future flow generations. An example of this approach is shown below:

  • Selenium Based. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator uses a Selenium based scripting language for greater flexibility across the different channels supported by the Oracle Utilities products. The script is generated automatically and does not need any alteration to be executed correctly.
  • Data Independence. As with other Oracle's testing products, data is supported independently of the flow and components. This translates into greater flexibility and greater levels of reuse in using automated testing. It is possible to change data at anytime during the process to explore greater possibilities in testing.
  • Support for Flexible Deployments. Whilst the focus of the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator is functional and/or regression testing.
  • Beyond Functional Testing. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator is designed to be used for testing beyond just functional testing. It can be used to perform testing in flexible scenarios including:
    • Patch Testing. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator can be used to assess the impact of product patches on business processes using the flows as a regression test.
    • Extension Release Testing. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator can be used to assess the impact of releases of extensions from the Oracle Utilities SDK (via the migration tools in the SDK) or after a Configuration Migration Assistant (CMA) migration.
    • Sanity Testing. In the Oracle Cloud the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator is being used to assess the state of a new instance of the product including its availability and that the necessary data is setup ensuring the instance is ready for use.
    • Cross Oracle Utilities Product Testing. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator supports flows that cross Oracle Utilities product boundaries to model end to end processes when multiple Oracle Utilities products are involved.
    • Blue/Green Testing. In the Oracle Cloud, zero outage upgrades are a key part of the solution offering. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator supports the concept of blue/green deployment testing to allow multiple versions to be able to be tested to facilitate smooth upgrade transitions.
  • Lower Skills Required. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator has been designed with the testing users in mind. Traditional automation involves using recording using a scripting language that embeds the data and logic into a script that is available for a programmer to alter to make it more flexible. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator uses an orchestration metaphor to allow a lower skilled person, not a programmer, to build test flows and generate, no touch, scripts to be executed.

An example of the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Workbench:

New Architecture

The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator has been re-architectured to be optimized for use with Oracle Utilities products:

  • Self Contained Solution. The new design is around simplicity. As much as possible the configuration is designed to be used with minimal configuration.
  • Minimal Prerequisites. The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator only requires Java to execute and a Database schema to store its data. Allocations for non-production for existing Oracle Utilities product licenses are sufficient to use for this solution. No additional database licenses are required by default.
  • Runs on same platforms as Oracle Utilities applications. The solution is designed to run on the same operating system and database combinations supported with the Oracle Utilities products.

The architecture is simple:

UTA 6.0.0.0 Architecture

  • Product Components. A library of components from the Product QA teams ready to use with the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator. You decide which libraries you want to enable.
  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Workbench. A web based design toolset to manage and orchestrate your test assets. Includes the following components:
    • Embedded Web Application Server. A preset simple configuration and runtime to house the workbench.
    • Testing Dashboard. A new home page outlining the state of the components and flows installed as well as notifications for any approvals and assets ready for use.
    • Component Manager. A Component Manager to allow you to add custom component and manage the components available to use in flows.
    • Flow Manager. A Flow Manager allowing testers to orchestrate flows and manage their lifecycle including generation of selenium assets for execution.
    • Script Management. A script manager used to generate scripts and databanks for flows.
    • Security. A role based model to support administration, development of components/flows and approvals of components/flows.
  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Schema. A set of database objects that can be stored in any edition of Oracle (PDB or non-PDB is supported) for storing assets and configuration.
  • Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Eclipsed based Plug In. An Oxygen compatible Eclipse plugin that executes the tests including recording of performance and payloads for details test analysis.
New Content

The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator has expanded the release of the number of products supported and now includes Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products and Cloud Services Products. New content will be released on a regular basis to provide additional coverage for components and a set of prebuilt flows that can be used across products.

Note: Refer to the release notes for supported Oracle Utilities products and assets provided.

Conclusion

The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator provides a comprehensive testing solution, optimized for Oracle Utilities products, with content provided by Oracle to allow implementation to realize lower cost and lower risk adoption of automated testing.

For more information about this solution, refer to the Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator Overview and Frequently Asked Questions (Doc Id: 2014163.1) available from My Oracle Support.

Note: The Oracle Utilities Testing Accelerator is a replacement for the older Oracle Functional Testing Advanced Pack for Oracle Utilities. Customers on that product should migrate to this new platform. Utilities to convert any custom components from the Oracle Application Testing Suite platform are provided with this tool.

Updated Technical Best Practices

Tue, 2018-06-26 04:13

The Oracle Utilities Application Framework Technical Best Practices have been revamped and updated to reflect new advice, new versions and the cloud implementations of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. The following summary of changes have been performed:

  • Formatting change. The whitepaper uses a new template for the content which is being rolled out across Oracle products.

  • Removed out of date advice. Advice that was on older versions and is not appropriate anymore has been removed from the document. This is ongoing to keep the whitepaper current and optimal.
  • Added Configuration Migration Assistant advice. With the increased emphasis of the use of CMA we have added a section outlining some techniques on how to optimize the use of CMA in any implementation.
  • Added Optimization Techniques advice. With the implementation of the cloud, there are various techniques we use to reduce our costs and risks on that platform. We added a section outlining some common techniques can be reused for on-premise implementations. This is based upon a series of talks given at customer forums the last year or so.
  • Added Preparation Your Implementation For the Cloud advice. This is a new section outlining the various techniques that can be used to prepare an on-premise implementation for moving to the Oracle Utilities Cloud SaaS Services. This is based upon a series of talks given at customer forums the last year or so.

The new version of the whitepaper is available at Technical Best Practices (Doc Id: 560367.1) from My Oracle Support.

Oracle WebLogic 12.2.1.x Configuration Guide for Oracle Utilities available

Thu, 2018-06-21 19:06

A new guide whitepaper is now available for use with Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products that support Oracle WebLogic 12.2.1.x and above. The whitepaper walks through the setup of the domain using the Fusion Domain Templates instead of the templates supplied with the product. In future releases, Oracle Utilities Application Framework the product specific domain templates will not be supplied as the Fusion Domain Templates take more of a prominent role in deploying Oracle Utilities products.

The whitepaper covers the following topics:

  • Setting up the Domain for Oracle Utilities products
  • Additional Web Services configuration
  • Configuration of Global Flush functionality in Oracle WebLogic 12.2.1.x
  • Frequently asked installation questions

The whitepaper is available as Oracle WebLogic 12.2.1.x Configuration Guide (Doc Id: 2413918.1) from My Oracle Support.

Oracle Utilities and the Oracle Database In-Memory Option

Tue, 2018-05-29 20:09

A few years ago, Oracle introduced an In-Memory option for the database to optimize analytical style applications. In Oracle Database 12c and above, the In-Memory option has been enhanced to support other types of workloads. All Oracle Utilities products are now certified to use the Oracle In-Memory option, on Oracle Database 12c and above, to allow customers to optimize the operational and analytical aspects of the products.

The Oracle In-Memory option is a memory based column store that co-exists with existing caching schemes used within Oracle to deliver faster access speeds for complex queries across the products. It is transparent to the product code and can be easily implemented with a few simple changes to the database to implement the objects to store in memory. Once configured the Oracle Cost Based Optimizer becomes aware of the data loaded into memory and adjusts the execution plan directly, delivering much better performance in almost all cases.

There are just a few option changes that need to be done:

  • Enable the In-Memory Option. The In-Memory capability is actually already in the database software already (no relinking necessary) but it is disabled by default. After licensing the option, you can enable the option by setting the amount of the SGA you want to use for the In-Memory store. Remember to ensure that the SGA is large enough to cover the existing memory areas as well as the In-Memory Data Store. These are setting a few database initialization parameters.
  • Enable Adaptive Plans. To tell the optimizer that you now want to take into account the In-Memory Option, you need to enable Adaptive Plans to enable support. This is flexible where you can actually turn off the In-Memory support without changing In-Memory settings.
  • Decide the Objects to Load into Memory. Now that the In-Memory Option is enabled the next step is to decide what is actually loaded into memory. Oracle provides an In-Memory Advisor that analyzes workloads to make suggestions.
  • Alter Objects to Load into Memory. Create the SQL DDL statements to specify the statements to instruct the loading of objects into memory. This includes priority and compression options for the objects to maximize flexibility of the option. The In-Memory Advisor can be configured to generate these statements from its analysis.

No changes to the code is necessary to use the option to speed up common queries in the products and analytical queries.

A new Implementing Oracle In-Memory Option (Doc Id: 2404696.1) whitepaper available from My Oracle Support has been published which outlines details of this process as well as specific guidelines for implementing this option.

PS. The Oracle In-Memory Option has been significantly enhanced in Oracle Database 18c.

 

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