Duncan Davies

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A PeopleSoft Tips and Tricks Blog
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PeopleSoft on the Oracle Cloud – what does it mean?

Mon, 2016-03-14 06:00

There have been a few announcements over the last couple of weeks about the Oracle Public Cloud. But what does it actually mean for the PeopleSoft community?

What is Oracle Public Cloud?PeopleSoft in the Oracle Cloud

The Oracle Public Cloud is Oracle’s competitor to the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers that have swiftly risen to create a whole industry that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Because they’re the market leader (by far) everyone automatically thinks of Amazon, however Microsoft Azure, Google Compute and Rackspace are also players in the market.

As PeopleSoft adopts more SaaS-like features (new UI, incremental updates etc) companies have started to move their infrastructure from their own data-centres to the cloud. For many companies this makes good business sense, however rather than have customers going to a 3rd party provider Oracle would rather provide the cloud service themselves. Obviously this is better for Oracle, however the customer benefits too (retaining a single vendor, and Oracle can potentially optimise their applications for their own cloud better than they can for Cloud infrastructure belonging to other vendors). There may also be cost savings for the customer, however I haven’t looked at pricing yet.

Doesn’t Oracle already do Hosting?

Yes, Oracle has long had a service that will host infrastructure on your behalf – Oracle On Demand. This is more of an older-style ASP (Application Service Provider). You’re more likely to be on physical hardware without much in the way of flexibility/scalability and tied into a long-term hosting contract, so the Oracle Public Cloud is a major step forwards in a number of ways.

How will Oracle Public Cloud be better?

I attended a couple of workshops on this last week and it looks very promising. It has all the attributes required for it to be properly classed as ‘Cloud’:

  • subscription pricing,
  • elasticity of resources (so you can scale instances according to demand),
  • resilience of data centres (so, if you’re based in the UK you might be looking at the Slough data centre, however there are two ‘availability zones’ within Slough so if one gets hit by an outage you’ll still be able to connect to the other one)

Interestingly, it also includes several ‘Database as a Service’ offerings, each offering increasing levels of performance. With this model you don’t need to worry about the virtual machine, operation system etc that your database runs on, you receive access to a database and leave the maintenance to others. You would still need to have your other tiers on the IaaS offerings.

This opens up the possibility of multiple tiers of Cloud service:

  1. Just the Infrastructure (client does all the database and application admin)
  2. DBaaS (client has other tiers on IaaS, but does not do DB admin)
  3. Full Cloud solution (uses Oracle Cloud and a partner to do all administration)
How can I best take advantage?

The best time to move is probably at the same time as an upgrade. Upgrades normally come with a change in some of the hardware (due to the supported platforms changing) so moving to the cloud allows the hardware to change without any up-front costs.

PeopleSoft 9.2 and the more recent PeopleTools versions have a lot of features that were built for the Cloud, so by running it on-premises you’re not realising the full capabilities of your investment.

We’d recommend you try using the Cloud for your Dev and Test instances first, before leaping in with Production at a later date. Oracle have tools to help you migrate on-premises instances to their Cloud. (At this point – Mar 2016 – we have not tested these tools.)

What will the challenges be?

The first challenge is “how do I try it?”. This is pretty straightforward, in that you get a partner to demonstrate to you, or can get yourself an Oracle Public Cloud account and then provision a PeopleSoft instance using one of the PUM images as a demo. This would work fine to look at new functionality, or as a conference room pilot.

One of the biggest challenges is likely to be security – not the security of Oracle’s cloud, but securing your PeopleSoft instances which previously might have been only available within your corporate LAN. If you need assistance with this speak to a partner with experience using Oracle Public Cloud.


I’m Sasank Vemana and this is how I work

Wed, 2016-03-09 08:00

The next profile in our ‘How I Work‘ series is Sasank Vemana. Sasank burst onto the PeopleSoft blogging scene in 2014 with his Sasank’s PeopleSoft Log site, and has been adding entries at a ferocious pace since. He is probably best known for his series of posts on altering the PeopleSoft branding to make it match a corporate palette, as well as configuration and code changes related to UI/UX.

I met Sasank at OOW15 and he’s a lovely chap. He has given some great responses to the questions. I’d love to know how he persuaded his employer to give him 4 monitors and about his use of dual mice!

Name: Sasank Vemana

Occupation: PeopleSoft/Enterprise Technology
Location: Tallahassee, Florida, USA
Current computer:
Desktop: Dell Optiplex 9020 (Windows 7, Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM)
Laptop: Dell LATITUDE | E6530 (Windows 7, Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM)
Current mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy S4. Yes – That reminds me I need an upgrade!
I work: To solve problems.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google is my friend and my portal to everything. I try not to overload myself with information, which I know I can find. Google search helps me find what I am looking for. On a side note, I use Whatsapp and FaceBook to keep in touch with my family and friends who are scattered in different parts of the world. I also use S Health app to keep track of my physical activities and monitor my health.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Not a big gadget fan! I can live without them as long as I have a good internet connection, which seems to be the most important thing for me these days. With that, I can do my reading, research and also remote to any of my computers (if needed) regardless of the device. Same goes with entertainment – Netflix, Spotify, etc.

What’s your workspace like?
Over the past year and a half, I have been using a standing desk at work, thanks to my current employers who were kind enough to allow me to rearrange my workspace. When I am at work and not in meetings, I try to stand as much as possible and use a bar stool when I tend to get tired. Occasionally, I also just sit down with my laptop wherever I find space. The four monitor desktop setup helps tremendously when I have multiple applications running. I also have two mice and try to switch between my left and right hand. I am ambidextrous so it works for me (I will not recommend this otherwise!).

Sasank Vemana - How I Work - Picture 1

Standing desk, 4 monitors and dual mice

Sasank Vemana - How I Work - Picture 2

What do you listen to while you work?
Usually, I am zoned into whatever I am doing and mostly oblivious to events around me. I don’t listen to music while I am at work these days. At times, I listen to live cricket or tennis commentary if anything I care about is going on. A set of Bose noise canceling headphones has long been on my wish list (in case Santa is reading!).

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
Oracle Virtual Box/PUM Images – My savior for evaluation, experimentation and proof of concept purposes.
Web Services: SoapUI, Postman (Chrome Add-On)
Web Development: Browser based Developer Tools (Chrome/Firefox/IE), DOM/StyleSheets/JavaScripts Explorers, Device Emulators, etc., Fiddler, Live HTTP Headers (Firefox Add-On)
Text Editors/Journals: Notepad++, Programmer’s File Editor (PFE), WinMerge, Evernote
DB Tools: Golden (for the most part since it is light weight and does not hog resources), SQL Developer (for some activities), OEM – Oracle Enterprise Manager
Screen Capture/Recording: SnagIt and Jing (short videos) are great for communication

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Tracing tip: Use PeopleCode – 2048 (Show Each), SQL – 3 (Statement, Bind). This gives us every line of code and SQL that executed in sequence without all the other clutter which is not always useful especially when we are just trying to understand the logic.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Generally speaking, queries on PeopleTools metadata tables. E.g.: PSAUTHITEM (security related queries), PSPRSMDEFN (portal navigation queries), etc.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
I would add/implement a log aggregation and mining utility. I have spent many hours combing through log files distributed across different servers. It would be great to see something that aggregates all server logs and provides mining capabilities (regex and/or free-form search). After attending Oracle OpenWorld 2015, I understand that PeopleTools 8.55 has some new features – as part of Health Center – that might assist with logs. I look forward to evaluating this functionality!

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Probably exploring! Although, I would be careful not to say that I am better at it than others. I just find myself doing that a lot without worrying about getting lost. It might seem like a wasteful effort at times but it is a natural way of learning for me.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
These are not really advice received from someone but some of my favorite quotes that I can think of right now:
– Learn to profit from your losses.
– Don’t make decisions during a storm.
– A manager gets work done through people whereas a leader inspires people to meet shared goals.
– And miles to go before I sleep.


What PeopleSoft content was popular in 2015?

Thu, 2016-01-28 17:48

The ‘Year in Blogging’ reports have come through so I can see what posts and newsletter items garnered the most views.

PeopleSoft Tipster Blog

So, according to the summary, this blog was visited 130,000 times during the year, an average of ~350/day with the busiest day being just over double that at 749 visitors. About 50% of the traffic is from the US, 15% from India, and 5% from the UK and Canada.

Amazingly, the most viewed post was one written prior to 2015, about PeopleSoft Entity Relationship Diagrams. The most popular post that was actually authored last year was The Future of PeopleSoft video with Marc Weintraub, followed by PeopleSoft and Taleo integration, the Faster Download of PeopleSoft Images and the profile of Graham Smith and how he works.

The PeopleSoft Weekly Newsletter

The PSW newsletter seems to go from strength to strength. During 2015 the subscriber base rose from 919 to 1,104 which is an approx 20% increase. The ‘open rate’ sits around 40% for any one issue (against an industry average of 17%) with the US accounting for 55% of readers, the UK 15% and India 10%.

The top articles in terms of clicks were:

  1. Gartner’s Report on Oracle’s Commitment to PeopleSoft (263 clicks)
  2. Randy ‘Remote PS Admin’ on Forcing Cache Clears (198)
  3. PeopleSoft Planned Features and Enhancements (180)
  4. 5 Life Lessons I Learned at PeopleSoft (167)
  5. Dan Sticka on stopping writing Record Field PeopleCode (166)
  6. Greg Kelly’s Security Checklist from Alliance (155)
  7. Virginia Ebbeck’s list of PeopleSoft Links (145)
  8. Greg Wendt of Grey Heller on the PS Token Vulnerability (142)
  9. Dennis Howlett on the Oracle vs Rimini St court battle (142)
  10. Wade Coombs on PeopleSoft File Attachments (140)
  11. I’m Graham Smith and this is How I Work (139)
  12. Graham’s PeopleSoft Ping Survey (135)
  13. How to write an efficient PeopleCode (134)
  14. Mohit Jain on Tracing in PeopleSoft (131)
  15. The 4 types of PeopleSoft Testing (130)
  16. PS Admin.io on Cobol (127)
  17. Matthew Haavisto on the Cost of PeopleSoft vs SaaS (124)
  18. The PeopleSoft Spotlight Series (119)
  19. Prashant Tyagi on PeopleSoft Single Signon (118)
  20. Adding Watermarks to PeopleSoft Fields (116)

 

 


I’m Dan Iverson and this is how I work

Tue, 2016-01-26 16:47

Next up in our ‘How I Work‘ series is Dan Iverson. Dan – together with partner-in-crime Kyle – runs the PSAdmin.io blog. If you’re a PeopleSoft administrator and connected to the Internet then there’s no doubt that you’ll have heard of their blog as they’re really prolific and have posted some great content. Clearly blogging wasn’t enough however, and there is now the PeopleSoft Administrator PodCast which is ~45 minutes of topical awesomeness. I didn’t think it was possible to have an entertaining PodCast on PeopleSoft Administration, but Dan and Kyle manage it!

Dan_Profile

 

Name: Dan Iverson

Occupation: Independent PeopleSoft Consultant, co-host of The PeopleSoft Administrator Podcast, and Staff Sergeant/Team Leader with the 147th Army Band.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Current computer: When I’m at home, my primary machine is a 27” iMac with a second 27” monitor attached. I recently upgraded to 32GB of RAM and can now run 3-4 VM’s at once. When I’m not at my desk, I use a MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM. Both machines have VMWare Fusion to run Windows (when I have to).
Current mobile devices: iPhone 6, iPad Mini, Apple Watch
I work: Because I enjoy challenges and enterprise software is full of them! I love to help people get through those challenges and want to leave a client better off than when I arrived.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I’m a Mac guy but PeopleTools doesn’t support Mac OS X so I have to live in the Windows world too. (There was an internal build of App Designer that ran on Mac OS 9, but it never shipped). These are my favorite apps for Windows, OS X and iOS.

For Windows:

  • Beyond Compare – it saves so much time when working with patches, finding file differences, moving configuration between files, etc. It’s easily the first software I install on a new machine.
  • Remote Desktop Connection Manager – working as an admin in a Windows shop means remoting into lots of servers that don’t support SSH. RDCM makes it easier to jump between sessions and save passwords and other settings. It’s a Microsoft product that’s a free download and I’m surprised it’s not included with the Admin tools.
  • Sublime Text – my go-to text editor for Windows and Mac. Sublime Text has a large plug-in community that makes the editor great for all languages. We use Markdown for our wiki at work, and for the blog, so I do most of my writing in Sublime Text because it has great Markdown plug-ins.
  • Password Safe – the only password I need to remember is our master password. There is no need to remember passwords anymore since we keep everything locked down in our safe.
  • SQL Developer – I started using SQL Developer because it was cheaper than Toad, but it has become my favorite Oracle SQL client.
  • Instiki – this is our wiki at work where we document anything PS Admin related. I keep my daily log in the wiki too, so I can reference articles as I document what I work on each day. Instiki is a simple Ruby on Rails-based wiki. It has very few features, but that’s what I like about it.
  • Synergy – a network KVM. It’s cross platform too, so I can use my iMac to control my Macbook Pro and any client laptops I might need all from the iMac’s keyboard and mouse.

For Mac OS X:

  • OmniFocus – I track all of my projects (work and home), tasks, to-do lists, and even passing thoughts in OmniFocus. I (kind of) follow the Getting Things Done methodology (GTD) for managing my daily work, and OmniFocus was built to support GTD. There is a great iPhone app for OmniFocus too. Anytime I have a thought I write it down and deal with it in OmniFocus.
  • iTerm – my default terminal on the Mac. I have a shortcut (Cntl-Optn-Space) mapped to the window so I can open a command line window anywhere I’m working.
  • VMWare Fusion – my main VM platform on my Macs. I use VMWare to run all my Windows VM’s and love it. I also use VirtualBox, but only when I run a PUM Image. With PeopleTools 8.55, Oracle will support other VM platforms for the Images so I plan on moving those to VMWare Fusion in the future.
  • Evernote – any non-client documentation, files, notes, etc are logged in Evernote. We use a shared Evernote notebook to plan the podcast episodes.
  • Dropbox – it just works. Any files that I want stored on more than 1 computer are put in Dropbox. Simple as that.
  • Slack – great for communicating with a team. For me, it has replaced Lync/Skype for IM but also has great team chat capabilities.
  • Sublime Text – same as the Windows app. It’s a great text editor.
  • Synergy – it’s worth mentioning twice.

For my iPhone:

  • OmniFocus and Evernote – synced with my Macs
  • TweetBot – a great Twitter client
  • Overcast – for listening to podcasts
  • Apple Music – made the switch from Spotify, but both services have a great selection of music
  • Instapaper – to read articles that I find but don’t have time to read during the day

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
A pair of headphones. I listen to music when I’m working and podcasts when I’m driving, mowing the yard or working out. When I’m at my desk, I have a set of Bose QC15’s. They are comfortable, have good sound and I like the noise cancellation. When I’m not at my desk, I use JayBird BlueBuds X wireless bluetooth headphones.

What’s your workspace like?
Currently, I am working from home (love it) and have a nice view of the yard from the office. I have an iMac and 2nd monitor on the desk. I run my Windows VM on the right monitor (an OS X workspace) and use the left monitor for Mac apps. I use the workspaces features on OS X to keep my apps logically organized. For example, Evernote and OmniFocus share a workspace, Mail and Slack in a workspace, and Safari or Chome in a 3rd.

Dan_Workspace

I had a treadmill desk and absolutely loved it, but we recently moved and haven’t set it up yet. It took about a day to get used to walking (about 1.2-1.5 miles per hour) and typing/mousing. Now that I’m working from home again it’s probably time to set it up. When I used the treadmill desk daily, I felt great and lost 20 pounds!

Working from home has so many advantages, but there are challenges. Staying in communication with coworkers is the biggest challenge; you have to work hard at communicating. The tech team adopted Slack during the last upgrade. Slack became our “water cooler” for everyone. All of our conversations happened on Slack. And since Slack saves past conversations, you could go back and catch up on the day’s discussions so you didn’t feel out of the loop. Even when people were in the office we’d still use Slack instead of popping into people’s cubes.

What do you listen to while you work?
I like most musical styles (except for country). I really enjoy the Interstellar, Dark Knight, and other Hans Zimmer soundtracks. Movie and video game soundtracks are great for helping me focus. I might listen to Emimen if I’m working late, and you can also catch me listening to Sonny Rollins or Maynard Ferguson too.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
These are my favorites:

  • TraceMagic – it helps you dig into trace files and is free from Oracle
  • Trace2SQL – it takes a trace file with SQL and creates a runnable .sql file with the parameters populated from the trace
  • SQL Developer
  • Password Safe

I keep a larger list updated on psadmin.io.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. It’s okay to not have an answer, but use that opportunity to learn something new and come back with an answer.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Lately,
select * from PS_PTSF_DEPLOY_OBJ;
followed by
delete from PS_PTSF_DEPLOY_OBJ where …;
(That’s SQL to find and delete deployed objects in the Search Framework tables.)

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Puppet support is coming to 8.55, so that takes care of one wish list item. The next change I’d like to see is an easier way to share code and projects. Currently, you have to copy/paste code to sites like GitHub. It’s hard to share projects/code using the current project format without manual intervention.

I would also love to see an option to export PeopleCode to a text file and use a YAML-type file to define component, record, AE, et al, objects. That would still describe the structure of PeopleTools objects but support common version control tools like Git and Mercurial (and GitHub too). There are many opportunities to share common modifications or bolt-on’s and using sites like GitHub to share the code would only benefit the PeopleSoft development community.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I can solve a Rubik’s Cube under 2 minutes while holding a conversation. I also play the trombone in a US Army Band.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Focus on doing good work and everything else will follow.