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Technical Advice for Oracle Tax and Utilities products
Updated: 6 hours 11 min ago

New Web Services Capabilities available

Wed, 2014-04-09 17:59

As part of Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4.2.0.2.0, a new set of Web Services capabilities is now available to replace the Multi-Purpose Listener (MPL) and also XAI Servlet completely with more exciting capabilities.

Here is a summary of the facilities:

  • There is a new Inbound Web Services (IWS) capability to replace the XAI Inbound Services and XAI Servlet (which will be deprecated in a future release). This capability combines the meta data within the Oracle Utilities Application Framework with the power of the native Web Services capability within the J2EE Web Application Server to give the following advantages:
    • It is possible to define individual Web Services to be deployed on the J2EE Web Application Server. Web based and command line utilities have been provided to allow developers to design, deploy and manage individual Inbound Web Services.
    • It is now possible to define multiple operations per Web Service. XAI was restricted to a single operation with multiple transaction types. IWS supports multiple operations separated by transaction type. Operations can even extend to different objects within the same Web Service. This will aid in rationalizing Web Services.
    • IWS  makes it  possible to monitor and manage individual Web Services from the J2EE Web Application Server console (or Oracle Enterprise Manager). These metrics are also available from Oracle Enterprise Manager to provide SLA and trend tracking capabilities. These metrics can also be fine grained to the operation level within a Web Service.
    • IWS allows greater flexibility in security. Individual Services can now support standards such as WS-Policy, WS-ReliableMessaging etc as dictated by the capabilities of the J2EE Web Application Server. This includes message and transport based security, such as SAML, X.509 etc and data encryption.
    • For customers lucky enough to be on Oracle WebLogic and/or Oracle SOA Suite, IWS now allows full support for Oracle Web Services Manager (OWSM) on individual Web Services. This also allows the Web Services to enjoy additional WS-Policy support, as well as, for the first time, Web Service access rules. These access rules allow you to control when and who can run the individual service using simple or complex criteria ranging from system settings (such as dates and times), security (the user and roles) or individual data elements in the payload.
    • Customers migrating from XAI to IWS will be able to reuse a vast majority of their existing definitions. The only change is that each IWS service has to be registered and redeployed to the server, using the provided tools, and the URL for invoking the service will be altered. XAI can be used in parallel to allow for flexibility in migration.
  • The IWS capability and the migration path for customers using XAI Inbound Services is available in a new whitepaper Migrating from XAI to IWS (Doc Id: 1644914.1) available from My Oracle Support.

Over the next few weeks I will be publishing articles highlighting capabilities for both IWS and the OSB to help implementations upgrade to these new capabilities.

Oracle Service Bus transports available

Mon, 2014-04-07 15:35

As outlined in the whitepaper Oracle Service Bus Integration with Oracle Utilities Application Framework (Doc Id: 1558279.1) available from My Oracle Support, the Multi-Purpose Listener (MPL) is bsing replaced by Oracle Service Bus (OSB). Whilst transaction inbound to the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based product are handled natively using Web Services, transactions outbound from the products are handled by Oracle Service Bus. Consequently a number of protocol adapters have been developed that are installed in Oracle Service Bus to allow Oracle Service Bus to initiate the following outbound communications:

  • Outbound Messages
  • Notification Download Staging (Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing and Oracle Public Service Revenue Management only)

The transports are now available from My Oracle Support as a patch on any OUAF 4.2.0.0.0 and above product as Patch 18512327: OUAF Transports for OSB 1.0.0.

Installation instructions for Oracle Service Bus and Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse are included in the patch as well as the whitepaper.

Password Change Sample

Sun, 2014-04-06 20:27

In the Technical Best Practices whitepaper ((Doc Id: 560367.1), available from My Oracle Support, there is a section (Password Management Solution for Oracle WebLogic) that mentions a sample password change JSP that used to be provided by BEA for WebLogic. That site is no longer available but the sample code is now available on this blog.

Now, this is an example only and is very generic. It is not a drop and install feature that you can place in your installation but the example is sufficient to give an idea of the Oracle WebLogic API available for changing your password. It is meant to allow you to develop a CM JSP if you required this feature.

There is NO support for this as it is sample code only. It is merely an example of the API available. Link to this code is here. Examine it to get ideas for your own solutions.

The API used will most probably work for any security system that is configured as an authentication security provider.

Private Cloud Planning Guide available for Oracle Utilities

Sun, 2014-04-06 17:56

Oracle Utilities Application Framework based applications can be housed in private cloud infrastructure which is either onsite or as a partner offering. Oracle provides a Private Cloud foundation set of software that can be used to house Oracle Utilities software. To aid in planning for installing Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products on private cloud a whitepaper has been developed and has been published.

The Private Cloud Planning Guide (Doc Id: 1308165.1) which is available from My Oracle Support, provides and architecture and software manifest for implementing a fully functional private cloud offering onsite or via a partner. It refers to other documentation to install and configure specific components of a private cloud solution.

Updated SSO Integration Whitepaper

Wed, 2014-03-19 17:34

The Single Sign-On integration whitepaper has been updated with the latest information to assist implementations configure Single Sign-On solutions with Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products.

The changes can be summarized as follows:

  •  Instructions on setting login-config updated for multiple Oracle Utilities Application Framework versions.
  • Added example configuration sections to illustrate various options
  • Added appendix on linking to Kerberos based solutions
  • Added appendix to link to Oracle Access Manager and Oracle Adaptive Access Manager based solutions.

The whitepaper is available from My Oracle Support at Single Sign On Integration for Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products (Doc Id: 799912.1)

Overview and Guidelines for Managing Business Exceptions and Errors Whitepaper

Sun, 2014-03-02 21:24

The Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing team have released a new whitepaper detailing an overview and guidelines for managing business exceptions and errors (To Do Entries) in Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing implementations. This whitepaper is part of a project to improve the use of facilities within the product lines to help optimize implementations.

The whitepaper is available from My Oracle Support under Overview and Guidelines for Managing Business Exceptions and Errors (KB Id: 1628358.1).

Implementing Multiple Products in a single domain

Thu, 2014-02-20 19:52

By default, the Oracle Utilities applications are installed in embedded mode for Oracle WebLogic. Basically the product reuses an existing Oracle WebLogic installation and points the WebLogic runtime installation to the Oracle Utilities application runtime to run the product. It is called embedded as basically we are not using the Oracle WebLogic installation to house the product, the product is using file embedded within the product to run Oracle WebLogic. For instance we generate the security setup, boot.properties, config.xml etc and command utilities to start/stop Oracle WebLogic and they are embedded within our product.

Whilst the embedded installation is ideal for most environments, as it is simple, it has a number of disadvantages:
  • Advanced facilities such as clustering and high availability cannot be easily implemented in embedded mode.
  • Most of the configuration is defaulted such as the domain name and server names.
  • The administration server is automatically included in each environment.
  • You need to use text file based user exits to augment the embedded configuration for advanced configurations. This requires manual efforts to maintain XML files in some cases.

To offer an alternative to the embedded installation, we introduced the ability to use a native installation method which houses the product inside Oracle WebLogic. This allows the site to take full advantage of Oracle WebLogic features and also manage the configuration from the Oracle WebLogic console or Oracle Enterprise Manager. For details of the features of the Native installation refer to the previous blog posts (Installation, Overview) on that subject.

Now one of the interesting abilities that is possible when using native mode is that it is possible to run multiple products or environment within the same domain. Basically this means you can reduce the number of administration consoles to manage your environment.

To use this facility the following process should be used:

  • Install Oracle WebLogic as per the Oracle WebLogic Installation documentation and Native Installation Oracle Utilities Application Framework (Doc Id: 1544969.1).
  • Create a domain with an administration server using the Configuration Wizard shipped with Oracle WebLogic.
  • Logon to the administration console with the user you specified when you created the domain.
  • Within the console create individual servers (naming is up to your site standards) for each product or environment you want to house the products. You should use machines with Node manager as well to allow for expansion and remote management if necessary. With native mode, the administration console does not have to be on the same machine as the target environments. Ensure each server is broadcasting on a different port.
  • Install the products as outlined the in the Native Installation Oracle Utilities Application Framework (Doc Id: 1544969.1) whitepaper and the product installation documentation with the additional advice:
  • Deployments in Oracle WebLogic need to be unique across a domain. By default, the product creates a common set of names for each component. It is necessary to change these names during the installation to avoid confusion in deployment. There are two settings that need to change:
Setting Default Recommendation
Business Server Application Name SPLService Add an environment or product identifier as prefix or suffix
Web Server Application Name SPLWeb Add an environment or product identifier as prefix or suffix
  • Ensure the deployment name is unique for every single deployment (even across products/environments).
  • For example, I run a FW2.2 environment and FW42 environment on the same domain. I setup SPLServiceFW22 and SPLWebFW22 for FW22 deployments and SPLServiceFW42 and SPLWebFW42 for my FW42 environment. These are just examples I use locally.
  • Ensure the paths in the Server Setup for the individual servers point to the classes in the relevant environment installations. Ensure the SPLEBASE is set correctly in the server setup.
  • Ensure the port numbers allocated to the Servers match the port numbers you specified in the product installation for each server.
  • The most important part of this is that you MUST alter setDomain for the domain to set the SPLEBASE variable appropriately for each SERVERNAME. If you forget this the product will not startup. In my example:

if [ $SERVERNAME$ = 'ouaf22server']

...

   set SPLEBASE=/oracle/FW22

fi

  • Deploy the deployments to the relevant server. To save time, deploy the SPLService (or whatever you called it) first and then SPLWeb (or whatever you called it) as per the Native Installation Oracle Utilities Application Framework (Doc Id: 1544969.1) whitepaper.
  • Start/Stop the server to start/stop the environment/product using the Administration console.

Now a couple of additional things to think about when using this technique:

  • All servers on this environment share the same authentication security setup. Just be aware of this.
  • By default, all the J2EE resources are controlled by a common role/credential cisusers. If you want to separate the servers using different roles/credentials then you need to change the cisuser setting using the configureEnv -a settings for the Web Security Role/Web Principal Name/Application Viewer Security Role/Application Viewer Principal Name to an appropriate setting for each product/environment.
  • When using native mode, any changes to the EAR files needs a redeployment (it is an update deployment which is far quicker). You can use the autodeploy features of Oracle WebLogic to minimize this effort (just note that it will take higher CPU consumption overall as Oracle WebLogic will check regularly for changes to deploy). Just remember, if you ever run initialSetup an update redeployment is required.
  • Any changes to properties files may not necessarily require redeployment at runtime as setting the SPLEBASE uses the versions stored in the etc/conf directory.  If you want to keep the EAR versions in synchronization then running an update redeployment is necessary after running initialSetup.
  • Embedded installations can be converted to this facility and retain the embedded installation as a fallback. The embedded installation and native installation cannot be running at the same time as they share port numbers. This is outlined in the Native Installation Oracle Utilities Application Framework (Doc Id: 1544969.1) whitepaper.

Once this is done you can manage the deployments from the console including security and monitoring.

Note: Customers using Oracle Enterprise Manager to manage the products or Oracle Web:ogic will not necessarily need to use this facility as the Oracle Enterprise Manager already serves this process.

Using Oracle Test Data Manager with OUAF

Mon, 2014-02-17 19:01

The Oracle Test Data Management Pack allows the quick and safe  copying a subset of data from a production database to a non-production database. The pack can be used standalone or in association with the Oracle Data Masking Pack to comply with data privacy and data protection rules mandated by regulation or policy that restrict the use of actual customer data for non-production purposes.

Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products can utilize this pack using the following technique:

  • A copy of the production schema with no data should be created on the production database. It is important not to load the data as this will aid in the creation. A copy of the schema can be built using Oracle SQL Developer or using tools included in Oracle Database Control/Oracle Database 12c EM Express.

Note: Oracle highly recommends not using the live production schema for the definition process.

  • Create an Application Model on the copied and prepared schema using the instructions in the Data Discovery And Modeling documentation.
  • Optionally, remove any tables or objects you do not want managed with the Oracle Test Data Management Pack Application Data Model you just loaded. For example, you might want to remove administration tables to optimize the time for the extract. This can be done within the Oracle Test Data Management Pack interface available within Oracle Enterprise Manager.
  • The Application Model now can be used against any production schema (as the source) at execution time.
  • Define the data subset you wish to extract as outlined in the Data Subsetting documentation. This can be a fixed subset, percentage or a complex SQL condition to determine the active subset to extract.
  • Optionally, identify the sensitive data you want to mask and associate the formatting to be used for handling the masked data. This will automatically mask the data in the extract as outlined in the Masking Sensitive Data documentation.

It is recommended that Oracle Test Data Management Pack be only used on Production environments to minimize licensing arrangements.

Note: If there is a need to comply with local privacy and protection laws that Oracle Data Masking Pack is also used with the Oracle Test Data Management Pack.

Note: This technique can be used with any release of the products or any release of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework.

Whitepaper List as at January 2014

Mon, 2014-02-10 22:42
Whitepaper Matrix

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.

Updated: Links to My Oracle Support will directly open the Doc Id entry. You must be a valid user of My Oracle Support to access these links.

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

Doc Id Document Title Contents 559880.1 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:
560367.1 Technical Best Practices for Oracle Utilities Application Framework Based Products Whitepaper summarizing common technical best practices used by partners, implementation teams and customers. 560382.1 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.
560401.1 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.
773473.1 Oracle Utilities Application Framework Security Overview A whitepaper summarizing the security facilities in the framework. Now includes references to other Oracle security products supported. 774783.1 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. 789060.1 Oracle Utilities Application Framework Integration Overview A whitepaper summarizing all the various common integration techniques used with the product (with case studies). 799912.1 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. 807068.1 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. 836362.1 Batch Best Practices This whitepaper outlines the common and best practices implemented by sites all over the world. 856854.1 Technical Best Practices V1 Addendum Addendum to Technical Best Practices for Oracle Utilities Customer Care And Billing V1.x only. 942074.1 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. 970785.1 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. 1068958.1 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, 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.