Thursday, October 2, 2008

JDE E1 Technical Task Force - EnterpriseOne 8.98/E9.0 Technical Net Change

I just got off of the latest JDE E1 Technical Task Force conference call with Clayton Seeley discussing the new EnterpriseOne releases - Applications Release E9.0 and Tools Release 8.98

Oracle is really spending a lot of time and effort on EnterpriseOne so those who were worried about the JD Edwards space when Oracle acquired PeopleSoft have no need to be alarmed. Oracle is admittedly gently nudging customers toward its in-house products (Oracle Application Server, Oracle Database, Oracle VM, etc.) but nothing big is changing anytime soon with regards to E1 support or the underlying technologies. More on the Oracle pressure later in this post.

As far as 8.98 goes, I mentioned in my earlier post Oracle Announces the Availability of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Tools 8.98, the Tools Releases coming out of Denver are getting better and better. While TR 8.97 included a ton of Darryl Shakespeare's JAS/HTML performance enhancements, TR 8.98 showed Oracle's commitment to improving the quality of, and the feature set for, EnterpriseOne.

Data Access Server
A new JAS-based server that allows 3rd party apps direct access thru JDBC to E1 data. Combined with the new read-only JDBC driver, DAS enables unparallelled access to data that was previously very difficult to get to. Using Oracle's BI Publisher further extends the ability to extract useful information from the EnterpriseOne database in the form of either existing UBE's with Embedded BI Publisher or ad-hoc queries using Interactive BI Publisher. Either way, a major issue - easily getting at business data has been addressed.

Optimized batch processing
Denver has gone to great lengths to address another area of great pain in E1 and come out with some wonderful-looking enhancements to batch processing. While batch processing has always been stable and hardy, looking under the covers has been difficult at best. Figuring out what a UBE was doing while running was next to impossible, debugging a running UBE was impossible, and discerning patterns or trends was time consuming. Now Oracle is allowing us to peek at the jobs and allowing us to do that while the UBE is in process.

We can now:
  • Analyze and troubleshoot batch jobs
  • Perform dynamic logging
  • Do introspection – show statistics regarding the state of a batch job while it is running.
  • Execute trend analysis
  • Get a completion estimate
An “Execution Detail” row exit from Work With Submitted Jobs will launch the new Audit Detail application for jobs.

User Interface
E1 now looks and feels (if an application can feel) like an Oracle (tm) app. The login page is standard-issue Oracle while the rest of the pages use the new "SWAN" interface detailed here. User error notification is improved as well.

Given the issues with the old UI (even after PeopleSoft gave it their best), this is definitely an improvement.

No more "web-only" versions
Web-only versions are gone.....thankfully. Administering web versions was difficult and required many administrative work-arounds to manage, making the life of the CNC administator more difficult than necessary.

Versions created in web client handled like all other versions, meaning that they are OMW managed and tracked, end users on the wbe can easily create their own batch versions, can update data selection and sequencing for a batch version, and can delete a batch version.

Failed transaction recovery improvements
Better end user notifications with the following methods of failed transaction notification:

  • Error dialog
  • Email with link to P95400 recovery application
  • Menu indicator on next login
Web users will now have confidence that they are informed if a transaction fails and are given the chance, via the P95400, to remedy the situation.

WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets)
A new standard for portlet development, WSRP allows for runtime generation of portlets without interrupting portal service. All portlets have been re-written to this standard.

Platform support
It is difficult to detail the platforms now supported for EnterpriseOne under 8.98 so I will just post Oracle's "EnterpriseOne Tools 8.98 Platform Support" document. Click image to enlarge.

Figure 1 8.98 Platform Support

Note that platform support for 64 bit Enterprise Servers does not currently extend beyond Linux. Oracle promises support for 64 bit support for Windows 2008 in "a future release". Clayton promised to look into this further but this should come as no surprise to anyone with a clue about how Oracle was going to gently slide customers toward the Red Stack.

Virtual Machines
A new area for IT that is starting to get some attention. In the past there was no official support for VMWare but now Oracle is starting to come around.....again with early, full support for their in-house product - Oracle VM. No mention of support for Microsoft Windows 2008 VM

Choice of embedded database
From the Believe-It-or-Not section - Oracle is actually giving customers a choice of using SQL Express or Oracle Enterprise Edition databases for their local databases on the Deployment Server and developer workstations. The job that was handled for so long by MS Access databases, then MSDE (renamed SQL Express in SQL 2005) is now going to be done by a database built to handle tens of thousands of concurrent sessions. The machine requirements are a stiff 2GB RAM/2GB disk vs. 512MB/1GB for SQL Express. The reason for using the Enterprise Edition of Oracle was explained as "support for detachable databases".

Copy environments
Always there, now it works correctly. Billed as an alternative to using RDBMS tools to copy environment information, the Copy Environments tool is an admittedly slower but easier tool for those who may not have the experience necessary to manually copy an environment. Another step toward lowering the heavy technology administration burden of E1.

Business Accelerator
Sounded like an improved version of Product Packaging, an application notorious for.......well, just not working right even after spending untold hours configuring it.

With Business Accelerator one can now do an OMW Save and Restore to/from a Zip file and package objects for transfer. While this looks useful for quick system configurations by implementation partners and for enabling 3rd party extensions to EnterpriseOne, the same dependency and ESU issues that plague Product Packaging apparently still apply to BA.

Notes and Observations
Things are slowly moving toward all Oracle - Database support is earlier for the Oracle database, OAS is better supported and gets more sale attention than WAS, Oracle is pushing Oracle VM, 64 bit is supported first on Linux, then on other platforms.

Some (many?) items in 8.98 are only available in E9.0 with promises of back-porting to earlier releases. Almost all of the new features are certainly only available to E810 releases and above. Absolutely no word in this conference call about what should now be called legacy releases - ERP8, Xe and earlier.

Figure 2 8.98 Feature Map (Click image to enlarge)

It's turning into an Oracle universe for JD Edwards customers, but is that a bad or good thing?

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