Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Windows 10 and E-Business Suite

Tomorrow (July 29, 2015) we will see the release of Windows 10 into the wild.  PC's all over the world that aren't under "enterprise control" have been signing up to download the update through Microsoft's "Windows Update" delivery mechanism and it is "going to drop" on July 29th, 2015.

For us (E-Business Suite DBAs) there should be at least some level of concern.

Because they are using this mechanism, this will likely be the largest mass deployment of software that anyone has witnessed.  Also, due to the delivery method, I would expect that Windows 10 uptake will significantly surpass any other Windows roll-out in history.

Remember, with previous Windows upgrades, you either had to go out and purchase the software or you got it when you acquired a new laptop.  This meant that, with few exceptions, those of us who have to deal with these changes at least had some breathing room before we really felt it.

Beginning tomorrow, however, anyone with a licensed copy of Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, could potentially upgrade to Windows 10.  While this really isn't a concern for most corporate PC's (where software updates/upgrades are managed by the centralized IT department), if you're on a project where users and/or consultants have "unmanaged" PCs, you could encounter some questions.

The first thing you need to know is that, of course, nothing about Windows 10 has been officially "certified" by anyone at Oracle yet.  So, you could always stand behind that statement.  And, certainly, if your IT department is even considering rolling out Windows 10 to anyone, they should wait until that certification information is released.

Now, for those of you who are just wondering, does it even work?  The answer is, yes, it appears to... but there are a few things you should know.

First, Windows 10 ships with a new minimalistic browser called "Microsoft Edge" (also known as "Project Spartan").  The browser works pretty well and the interface is clean, which is nice.  But, Microsoft Edge doesn't support plug-ins (specifically, it no longer supports Active-X).   This means that you will be unable to launch Java from the Edge browser which, in turn, means that you won't be able to launch Oracle Forms from within E-Business Suite.

But, never fear.  Windows 10 also ships with Internet Explorer 11, which is certified in many E-Business Suite configurations.  I performed some rather limited testing (log into R12.1.3, launch forms, basic navigation) using a recent pre-release version of Windows 10 (x86-64, build 10301) and Java JRE 1.8.0_51 (32-bit) and everything appears to function without much issue.  Obviously, this was far from a complete test and I wouldn't go into production with it.  Fortunately, since Oracle has already certified Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 and 8.1 (notably, not Windows 8) with EBS, I doubt that certification for IE11+EBS+Windows 10 will find too many problems.

So, the long and short of it is, should you encounter that Windows 10 early adopter, they should have some luck using Internet Explorer 11 (assuming that you're patched up to support it per MOS 389422.1, of course).    Of course, should the user be technically inclined and still want to remain an early adopter, I strongly recommend running an older version of Windows (Windows XP or Windows 7) in a VirtualBox VM.   It's a great way to be current and still be able to use some of the really old tools.  (Workflow Builder, anyone?)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

E-Business Suite 12.1 is now Certified on OEL7 and RHEL7

New this week from Steven Chan's blog:

One thing that Steven's blog posting mentions that deserves specific emphasis is that Oracle Database and are ALSO certified on OEL7/RHEL7 [see MOS 1304727.1].  Please note that the certification is specific to the version of the database.  Most notably that and appear to be excluded from this certification.  As always, be sure to pay close attention to the certification status of your various components when planning any installation/upgrade.

It's also important to note that, while there is a 32-bit version of RHEL6 (and E-Business Suite 12.1.3 is certified on it), there isn't a 32-bit version of RHEL7.  This is important and, at the same time, it isn't.  First of all, it's highly unlikely that anyone is still using 32-bit hardware.  (Or that they ever were, for E-Business Suite on Linux).  Yes, it's true that the appsTier components of E-Business Suite 12.1 are still 32-bit, running them on a 64-bit Linux requires only minor adjustments.  The bulk of which involve dependencies on kernel settings and Linux packages.

So, with all of this out there... Go forth and upgrade!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Re-thinking IT Paradigms

I've been working on some projects recently where there is a heavy dependency on virtualization.  It works very well and there are certainly advantages.  You can resize things with minimal effort and there is even a level of redundancy built in.  Every instance can have it's own virtual host (no more stacking multiple E-Business Suite instances on a single box!).  Of course, one downside is that the "old way" of stacking multiple environments on a single box was somewhat self limiting.  With virtualization, it requires more discipline to prevent "instance creep" (where everybody must have their own private instance) on a project.

But, some of this has me wondering.  Manageability benefits aside, the primary selling point behind virtualization is "more efficient use of hardware". 

When we're sizing a system using traditional hardware, we size it for the busiest day of the year and then add some fudge factor to account for anticipated growth.  The end result is that you have a system which is running at 30-40% CPU utilization and maybe 50-60% memory utilization most of the time.  Business views this as waste. 

The solution being sold to solve this problem is virtualization.  You can have virtual machines that are sized smaller and dynamically scale to account for growth or those busy days.  The basic thought is that some systems need more CPU/memory today while others will need more tomorrow.  The end result being that you need (theoretically) fewer CPUs (which will operate closer to 100% utilization) and less RAM as an aggregate across your enterprise.

This is all predicated on an assumption that I am beginning to think is either flawed or has simply changed.  The assumption in question is that "hardware is expensive and must be used efficiently".

The truth is, hardware costs continue to fall even as compute power increases.  Moore's Law is very much alive.

Contrast this with the proposed solution:  large scale engineered systems (we're using a vBlock from VCE on this project) at extremely high cost.  These systems introduce their own management challenges, licensing and personnel costs, licensing challenges (we're in an Oracle world, remember?), and even technology challenges.  How much is it going to cost to upgrade these systems when they become old and slow?  (Moore's Law strikes again).

So, to me, this begs the question.  Which is more expensive?  Individual servers with "wasted" capacity?  Or the solution we're deploying to solve that "problem"?