Wednesday, May 12, 2010

EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3 Notes Part 3

We wrap up our three-part series on EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3 with  information on Workflow Delegation, BI Publisher Enhancements, E1 Application Management Pack, WebCenter and a few miscellaneous notes on WebSphere 7, high availability with RAC and platform support.

Earlier parts of this series:

EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3 Notes Part 1

EnterpriseOne Tools Release 8.98.3 Notes Part 2

As always, please be aware that my reviews are not a comprehensive accounting of all new features in 8.98.3,  that the information presented herein is my interpretation of what I heard, read and utilized, that Oracle can change anything prior to GA release and that, of course, only Redwood can speak for Oracle, they are the final authority on their software.

Workflow Delegation

Workflow in EnterpriseOne has greatly improved the efficiency of end users but had one glaring flaw - the flow stopped when a user was not available to perform a workflow action.  Darryl goes on vacation and the whole department stops moving unless he gives someone his login information to allow them to perform workflow activities, a definite security violation.

Now E1 permits users to allow others to execute workflow actions in their absence with Workflow Delegation.   As the name implies, this functionality allows users to re-assign workflow actions to another user, greatly simplifying vacation time.  Re-delegation is allowed based on a delegate list and both user and delegate will be notified of the delegation and re-assignment via email, as defined in the messaging properties.  It was presented that the delegation list would be created by the CNC Administrator based on input from the business.

The list is a simple per user, per workflow process register created using the new P988661 (Work With Workflow Predefined Lists).  It appears that the maintenance of the list will be as cumbersome as its name and will add to the already heavy burden of the CNC.  Honestly, I'd propose that administration of this piece be given to someone other than the CNC Administrator as there is nothing that suggests this is a technology piece.

Multiple delegation is allowed (User A -> User B -> User C) although I think a checkbox should be available to disallow re-delegation if desired.  Recursive delegation is disallowed (duh!) and active task delegation is allowed.  Workflow actions can only be delegated at the user level and the application doesn't seem to have much intelligence beyond "This user can delegate this task (or *ALL tasks) to this user during this time period."  It's better than what we had but could be improved.

This feature will be supported on 8.11 SP1 and above and will require an ESU to enable its use.

BI Publisher Enhancements

Oracle's strategy for information access with EnterpriseOne is more than a little murky with offerings like Oracle EPM(formerly Hyperion), Oracle BI Applications (formerly Siebel Analytics), Oracle BI Publisher (formerly XML Publisher), Crystal Reports (formerly a supported application, now in maintenance mode for E1), the E1 UBE engine and various 3rd party reporting applications and ad hoc query tools.

One area where things are getting clearer is output management, where the UBE engine is sharing more and more space with BI Publisher.  BI Publisher is the strategy moving forward for certain use cases in EnterpriseOne, grouped below by BI Publisher's two versions - Embedded and Standalone/Enterprise.

Intended uses for the Embedded version of BI Publisher:

  •         Customer-facing, pixel perfect documents
  •         Driven by UBE or E1 event
  •         Updates data in database   
  •         No user action
  •         Developer-driven reporting        
Intended uses for the Enterprise version of BI Publisher:
  •         Driven by an event outside E1
  •         Read only data
  •         Minimal data manipulation
  •         End user reporting

Enhancements for the Embedded version include Report Specific Email Subject and Body, being able to specify a language preference depending on the recipient and the ability to consolidate output by recipient. 

In the Enterprise version, enhancements are largely related to making it easier for end (power) users to utilize the tool:  Intuitive table names - an option to turn on table name descriptions, Friendly column names - An option to turn on column name descriptions and UDC descriptions - An option to turn on UDC descriptions. 

To be noted is the fact that non-Red Stack customers can only use BI Publisher (Embedded or Enterprise) to report on E1 tables.  Publishing from custom tables (F55) requires full BI Publisher licensing. 

The enhancements will be supported on 8.11 SP1 and above and will require an ESU to enable their use. 

E1 Application Management Pack 

The Application Management Pack is an extension for Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle's application management product.  The App Pack leverages existing Server Manager technology but leaves standard, E1-specific administration tasks in Server Manager.  

This obviously raises the question: "Is Server Manager going to be replaced by OEM?"  These are the answers I received to that question - "The App Pack integrates only "value added" administration items into EM", "Core E1 tasks will always be in SM" and "Not mandatory and not expected to be mandatory in the future". 

Although licensing for Oracle Enterprise Manager is extra, there are some compelling features that may interest customers with large, complex EnterpriseOne systems.  One is Configuration Comparison where you can use OEM with the E1 App Pack to compare two servers for configuration differences and the other is Configuration History and Snapshots, where you can view historical configuration changes and be able to effectively revert to a previous configuration. 

The App Pack has other benefits that are better left to the marketing folks to describe so to them I will leave the job of selling this feature.  As this item becomes more mature I imagine I will review it further. 

Oracle WebCenter Suite 

The latest portal to be offered to JDEdwards EnterpriseOne customers.  WebCenter is essentially a J2EE application that is installed onto a WebLogic Server and, in my opinion has some pretty extreme hardware requirements. 

This complex, costly suite is comprised of WebCenter Services and WebCenter Spaces delivered through WebCenter Portal.  

WebCenter Services are "Enterprise-ready Social Computing Services such as wikis, blogs, RSS, recent activities, discussion forums, tags, links, social networking, Business Process Execution Language workflows, and analytics can be embedded directly into applications." 1   The description of WebCenter Spaces is "a ready-to-use application that delivers dynamic business communities...." 2 

Denver is very excited, as always, about getting portals installed but I have never been a huge fan, finding them expensive to purchase, expensive (and difficult) to properly implement and requiring a full and complete buy-in of the business to commit to the portal as the primary front-end to all web applications.  Implementing a portal is akin to choosing an operating system - it is a long-term, expensive proposition with an ROI that may only be realized by the largest, most committed organizations. 

Two important technical notes:
  •     WebCenter only supports WSRP portlets, no JPDK portlets
  •     WebCenter only supports OAS as a producer, WLS not supported yet
More information on Oracle WebCenter Suite can here found here: 


Despite support for yet another Java Application Server at Oracle WebSphere soldiers on, robustly supporting numerous EnterpriseOne web systems and providing enterprise-class performance.  WebSphere 7, released in late 2008, is finally supported in 8.98.3.  WAS 7 will require FixPak 5 and is a four CD install.  I guess we are headed back to the days of a WAS install consisting of large numbers of disks. 

Random Oracle RAC-related notes:
  • Transparent Application Failover with Oracle RAC now supported.  Uses a new checksum algorithm for fetches
  • Improved failover with batch processing on Oracle RAC
  • Certification of Transparent Data Encryption with Oracle Database 11g
  • Certification of Data Vault with Oracle Database 11g
Platform support continues to progress nicely although one detects rapid platform support for Oracle products and lagging platform support and even aggressive de-support of rival platforms. 

Click the image for a larger version. 

Overall, Update 3 for Tools Release 8.98 is a pretty good release.  Good enhancements, more platform certifications and much progress toward Oracle's goals of Improved End User Productivity, Support for Technology Infrastructure and Reduced Cost of Ownership. 

Though E1 is starting to show the influence of the larger customers, who have a bigger say in future development and enhancements, there is plenty to be happy about for the smaller organizations as Oracle seeks to drive implementation and upkeep costs down to a more reasonable level.  As members of the EnterpriseOne technical community we must, however continue to press for software quality improvements.  New features are nifty but software that works correctly and works consistently, is free of bugs and other mistakes, is well documented and well supported is much preferred to software with flashy bells and whistles.  

We still await solid software that is well tested prior to release. 

Regarding Oracle's future plans: Divining Oracle's strategy is not difficult if one pays attention to the items being supported with new releases, what items are being addressed first, how heavily Oracle is promoting these efforts and how items are licensed or included/not included in a "stack".  The company from Redwood Shores is gently leaning on customers to adopt their "Red Stack".  After all, one of the stated goals for technology direction is "Deep adoption of Oracle technology stack" so this should come as no surprise.  However, I don't believe the end is coming any time soon for support of other supporting technologies as they also state a goal of "Continue heritage of open platform support".  We probably will be assimilated...but slowly.

This completes the review of Tools Release 8.98 Update 3.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

You links for your post in "Earlier parts of this series:" are the same for part 1 and 2...

Part 2 should be:


Jeff Stevenson said...

Thanks, I'm not real good with this technology stuff...

Anonymous said...

We are the Oracle. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

Anonymous said...

After clicking the link passed by my colleague I was amazed by your excellent post about 8.98.3 - I have never seen a post better than yours. I really appreciate your time and your sharing.

Jeff Stevenson said...

Thanks Harry, kind of you to say so. I'm glad you got something out of the articles.

Paul said...

Jeff - thanks for taking the time to put this together!

Anonymous said...

Good information put together.