Tuesday, 10 April 2018

PeopleSoft Selective Adoption - Some thoughts from the front line

In this blog post I 'd like to share a few of my own thoughts on application maintenance strategies for customers running PeopleSoft applications on release 9.2.
Pre and Post Selective Adoption

Introduced with PeopleSoft 9.2 back in 2013 PeopleSoft Selective Adoption has seemingly changed everything to do with software maintenance.   To look at options and strategies for 9.2 customers now it's helpful to remember the "old way" how things used to be prior to Selective Adoption.

Pre 9.2 Software Delivery Model (the Old way)

Before Selective Adoption customers had the following software lifecycle events:
  • Every 3 to 4 years there was a major Application Release (8.9 in 2003, 9.0 in 2006, 9.1 in 2009, 9.2 in 2013) .  These major releases included new features, enhancements and defect fixes.
  • Regular individual Product Updates (patches) to fix specific defects.
  • Periodic module based Bundles that were made up of all product updates released since the last bundle. Bundles were not cumulative - so, if you needed a fix in, say, FSCM GL Bundle 23 then you had to apply bundles 1 through 22 first as these were mandated pre-requisites.
What did customers do with this software delivery system?
  1. Do nothing.  Wait for the next major release and then perform a major upgrade.  A lot of customers did this.
  2. Apply individual product updates as and when necessary to fix specific issues.  However, if the individual update was no longer available due to being rolled into a bundle then customer would need to apply the bundle in order to get the specific update. Any prerequisite updates and/or bundles would also have to be applied first.
  3. Apply every bundle as it became available. Bundles only contained bug fixes so the only value you really got was the software worked as it should have done in the first place (i.e. bug free)

Post 9.2 Software Delivery Model (the New way)

Software Lifecycle
PeopleSoft Selective Adoption was designed so that customers would have a choice in selectively applying updates rather than the previous method of either an entire application upgrade or applying a series of module based Bundles.  It also added a higher degree of automation of the lifecycle processes.

What you get with PeopleSoft Selective Adoption is:
  • New functionality, enhancements and bug fixes every 12 weeks delivered in a fully functioning PeopleSoft Image (PI)
  • Individual PeopleSoft Release Patchset (PRP) which update the application between PeopleSoft Images typically if the update is critical.    Read more here in PeopleBooks.
  • No plans for a 9.3 major release. (There's no need for this as new functionality is delivered incrementally).
So, if you're on 9.2 here are your options:
  1. Do nothing and wait for the next major application release.  You might be waiting a long time as Oracle have no plans for a 9.3 release. (Having "no plans" is not the same as will never release.  However, with the continuous software delivery mechanism now in place I think it's likely we'll just find the "9.2" number getting dropped when referring to PeopleSoft and an increase in referring to the PI number).  Either way - option 1 exists.  If the software is working for you and you're inside support windows then you can legitimately do nothing.  
  2. Apply individual product updates as and when required.  These updates include application bug fixes but will also deliver new functionality and enhancements.  You can decide how frequently you make change - Quarterly, Annually.  You could also do a large get-me-current every 2 years say and pickup minor fixes and enhancements in smaller projects throughout the year.  So many variations of this.
  3. Apply every update as it becomes available.  If you choose this option then you'll always be on the latest versions of the software.  All known defects fixed and all new  features available for you to deploy.   Regular and frequent change requires planning and sound management.
Does this sound similar to the old way? Do nothing; Apply selected updates; Apply every update ?  In the next few weeks I plan to explore these 3 options in depth and show just how valuable Selective Adoption is.

As always feel free to contribute to the discussion in comments below.  Always happy to hear alternative opinions.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

5 Things to do with your PeopleSoft system in 2018

Well 2018 is well under way and already I've been working on some exciting PeopleSoft things - PeopleTools Upgrades, SES replacements with Elasticsearch, PUM Get Current, REST web services and it's ONLY the beginning of February.

If I didn't wish you a Happy New Year in January then I do so now.  I hope that 2018 is peaceful where you are and that you have many exciting opportunities to make a difference in your corner of the world wherever that might be.

I though it might be useful to highlight my top 5 things that I would generally recommend PeopleSoft user's be looking at this year.

OPTIMIZE: Invest time and effort to optimize your PeopleSoft applications. You could improve your business processes, make your end-users life easier, save money and time and retain and attract the best staff (a companies competency to manage and innovate is judged during the recruitment and on-boarding cycles).  There is so much wrapped up in this one that it requires it's own write-up.  There's going to be no slow down in the PeopleSoft application innovations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eygB14gxAKI&feature=youtu.be&t=16m17s Doubt this?  Look at what PeopleSoft have done over the last few years and then listen to this  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eygB14gxAKI&feature=youtu.be&t=22m38s

UPGRADE to 9.2: If you're not on 9.2 then you're missing all the fun.  Amazing user interface, innovative self-service apps, streamlined continuous software updates, mobile enabled, and so much more.  Get onto PeopleSoft 9.2. It's where all the innovation is happening.

UPGRADE PEOPLETOOLS: Upgrade to 8.56 or wait for 8.57. Stay supported, stay secure improve user experience and take advantage of new innovations.  The decision to wait until 8.57 really depends on timing.  If you can't start your tools upgrade until later in the year it may be worth waiting a bit until 8.57 comes out.

MOVE TO ORACLE CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE: Move your PeopleSoft instances to Oracle cloud infrastructure .  Even if this is just your PeopleSoft Update Images, Demo systems or your development instances it's likely you'll see a dramatic improvement in performance, cost saving and agility.  No one generates their own electricity these days so why generate you're own compute and storage.

SWITCH TO ELASTICSEARCH: Replace Oracle SES with Elasticsearch or implement PeopleSoft search framework for the first time.  This is so easy in most cases and is a complete no-brainer. Elasticsearch takes 47 seconds to install and slots in nicely to your existing PeopleSoft instances without too much change required. I recommend following Oracle's advice to get onto PeopleTools 8.55.19 or 8.56.04 https://blogs.oracle.com/peopletools/planning-to-deploy-elasticsearch-with-peoplesoft-between-now-and-early-2018. Providing search capability against your application data can transform not only how users interact with the system but also how they feel about the system. (Imagine the world wide web without Google or Bing).

So here's to another exciting year with the PeopleSoft technology and software innovators at Oracle.

Monday, 27 November 2017

5 Things on PeopleSoft Cloud Manager 05

PeopleSoft not only runs on cloud infrastructure but is intentionally engineered for the kinds of platform and application automation essential for managing applications in the cloud. 

PeopleSoft Cloud Architecture addresses installation, configuration, testing, patching and upgrades and this all comes together in PeopleSoft Cloud Manager.  

Loads of PeopleSoft content on Tuesday
On Tuesday 5 December I'll be covering this material in depth at the annual UKOUG Apps 17 conference.  I look forward to seeing you there if you can make.  Register for Apps17 here.

In September 2017 Cloud Manager 05 was released and here's my top 5 observations.

(1) New instances provisioned in Cloud Manager can now be migrated to use Orchestrations.  By default if you select STOP in the environment action menu the PeopleSoft application, web and batch services will be stopped.  This is useful but won't save you any money!  If the environment is migrated to using orchestrations then the STOP action will shutdown the instances itself on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.  If the instance is running you pay for CPU and storage.  If the instance is stopped then you only pay for storage.

(2) New PeopleSoft environments are provisioned using Linux and Windows template images.  It is essential you get the Linux and Windows 2012 r2 images from Oracle Cloud Marketplace. Before you can use them in Cloud Manager you first need to update the Windows images with latest updates from Microsoft.  You can also add in your favourite developer tools, create new users and any other configuration you normally do.   How to create a private Windows Image for Cloud Manager.

(3) There is a very nice feature which will automatically download the latest Cloud Manager Update Image which can then be used to automatically update your currently running Cloud Manager instance.  The first version of this is a bit buggy but I'm sure the Cloud Manager development team will sort this out.  At writing this (November 2017) I had to manually intervene with a few steps and there is an essential PRP that must be applied to the CM Update Image before it can be used.  Read Automated Self-UpdateOf Cloud Manager From Cloud Manager Settings | Manage Updates Page Fails AtStep "Apply PRP to PUM source.

(4)  A Cloud Manager provisioned environment can now be upgraded to the latest PeopleTools patch or even upgraded to the latest PeopleTools version.  This really is quite magical.

Think about what's going on here.

  • download the relevant tools patch onto your client and Linux machines
  • install Change Assistant on client
  • Install PeopleTools on client
  • Shutdown PIA, App and batch domains
  • Run CA job to Apply PeopleTools Patch to target database
  • Install patch files on Linux server to update PS_HOME
  • Redeploy PIA, App and batch domains
  • Start everything back up again
  • All in just over 20 mins !

(5) Cloud Manager REST APIs are now available.  This is a nice touch and demonstrates just how extensible the PeopleTools framework is.  Cloud Manager creates a simplified user experience to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and the PeopleSoft DPKs - This is very useful - if you're a human!  But what if you want to build automated schedules to stop and start Cloud Manager environments using your companies enterprise scheduler?  Well ... there's an API for that.



The environment ID (EnvID) doesn't seem to be visible anywhere in the Cloud Manager user interface and so we need to use the REST API to list environments to find it. The output is a JSON response containing a list of all Environments and their status.


        "environmentID" : "434343",
        "environmentName" : "CDMSLFUPD1",
        "description " : "Environment for Cloud Manager Self Update",
        "status " : "Stopped"
        "environmentID" : "434344",
        "environmentName" : "FS025E",
        "description " : "Test system for FS 025",
        "status " : "Running"
        "environmentID" : "434345",
        "environmentName" : "HCM024A",
        "description " : "",
        "status " : "Stopped"

Watch all the magic here.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

OOW17 Day 4 Wednesday

OK.....  so it's taken me a little while to complete my writeup for the final day of the 2017 OpenWorld conference. For some reason when I got back to the RealWorld from OpenWorld I had a million and one things to do and ended up a bit busy.

Anyway, for what it's worth let me try and outline highlights from the final day.

One of the things I most enjoy and value about all PeopleSoft events, including OpenWorld, is the opportunity to meet people from the PeopleSoft community. 
A recent and rapidly growing part of this community, focused on PeopleSoft technical administrators, has been organised by Dan Iverson and Kyle Benson from http://psadmin.io .   They run a blog, weekly podcast, training on things like DPK and facilitate the psadmin.io Slack channel.  Drop them a line here if you want to join in.
To round of the conference this year they hosted a podcast featuring several PS techs from around the world and I was honoured to be invited to join in. You can listen in on this fascinating discussion here http://psadmin.io/2017/10/20/103-oow-2017-all-star-recap/ 

psadmin.io podcast in the basement of the Marriott

Some of  the many PeopleSoft admins 

The other community that I enjoy being part of is the My Oracle Support Community (MOSC) site. You'll need an Oracle account to access it but it's a great place to engage with customers and Oracle support staff to get help, discuss issues and submit and vote on enhancement requests (ideas) to Oracle development teams.
The PeopleTools MOSC site can be found here  https://community.oracle.com/community/support/peoplesoft/peopletools_-_psft

HR OnBoarding

During the afternoon of the final day I sat through some excellent presentations on enhancements to Core HR including the new OnBoarding feature.    Not a new module to buy but included in your core HR license.  Oracle Product Management made a point of this fact and we should start to see more and more new features being delivered in core HR.  If you get it as part of your core license then it's more likely to get used is the thinking.  I like it !

This nice new feature that can help customers implement more consistent and audited processes for bringing new staff into their organisations and ensuring they know what to do, where to go, who to meet, what documents are needed, etc.  It may also help customers who already have on-boarding systems become more efficient by bringing it into PeopleSoft where integrating with core HR data should be much easier.

  • Read it in PeopleBooks
  • Watch it on YouTube 

  • CloudFest 2017

    And the Oracle party this year - again at the AT&T Park - home of the Giants baseball team.

    Ellie Goulding and The Chainsmokers - "who ???" ---- oh dear.... I must be getting old!

    Thursday, 5 October 2017

    OOW17 Tuesday Day 3

    Yet more blue sky outside, it's warm and we're all stuck in an air conditioned conference centre.  I hope you're feeling suitably sorry for me.  Today I've attended a number of conference sessions. Here's some highlights.

    PeopleSoft PeopleTools Platform and Infrastructure Overview - Mark Hoernemann doing a most
    excellent job juggling a million and one platform version number combinations.  Microsoft Windows Server 2016 hasjust been certified on 8.55 and 8.56.  Me thinks the myriad of ever increasing layers of software each with the version dependencies in just the kind of thing that drives people to the cloud.

    Getting the Most Out of PeopleSoft PeopleTools: Tips and Techniques - The legendary Jim Marion accompanied by Sarah (book co-author, editor and Jim's wife) gave a brilliant masterclass in Fluid development and Event Mapping.  I love Jim's style and I always learn something new when I attend his sessions and I leave inspired to learn more.  Check out Jim and Sarah's training courses here ....  http://www.jsmpros.com

    Sorry Jim.... as exciting as Fluid development and Event Mapping is .... I want to focus today on the exciting news about Classic Plus announced in session CON6948- PeopleSoft User Experience: Improving Classic Pages with Classic Plus.

    At OpenWorld 2016 we first heard about Classic Plus in Paco's keynote - a new style sheet coming in PeopleTools 856 that will make Classic pages look like Fluid pages.

    What we didn't realise until Dave Bain's session today is that the Applications teams are working towards converting all Classic Pages to Classic Plus.  Here's what I know and what I read from Dave's session:

    • To enable Classic Plus you need to be on PeopleTools 8.56.
    • It's enabled at a Global level in PeopleTools > Portal > Branding System Options
    • Once globally enabled each Classic component needs to have the "Apply Fluid like theme for Classic" property set ON if you want the component pages to appear with Classic Plus styling.  
    • In making Classic pages "look" like Fluid the Classic Plus stylesheet changes certain cosmetic characteristics of the page. Fundamentally, the changes relate to creating more space between page objects.   Inevitably, this results in some cosmetic tweaking on the page itself using Application Designer.
    • What the Applications teams (HCM, FSCM, ELM, Campus, CRM, etc) have been doing/done is to make every Component/Page work with Classic Plus and to fix any easy to make cosmetic page issues.  Most pages work straight away and some have required just some minor tweaking to fix field alignment issues.  We'll see the results of this work in the next round of PI releases (HCM024 and FSCM026)
    • Whilst the intent is to make every page work with Classic Plus there are some pages that are just too complex and cannot easily be tweaked.  These pages, for now at least, will remain on Classic.
    All sounds simple right?  Well, it get's a little more involved.  Here's what's going to be delivered in the next PIs.
    • If the PeopleSoft Apps team opened every Component and set the "Apply Fluid like theme for Classic" property ON to make it Classic Plus then that Component would have changed AND when you came to do a get current you'd be picking up lots of modified Component definitions. This is too big an issue for customers to deal with as it would involve a significant re-customisation effort plus the size of the change package would be considerable.
    • To solve this problem PeopleSoft are delivering a Classic Plus Configuration page.  The customer selects the Components they want to enable for Classic Plus and a batch process (AE) then does a bulk update of the "Apply Fluid like theme for Classic" flag on each of these.
    • This will provide customers the choice of enabling Classic Plus on all pages, some or none.
    So, why Classic Plus?  Here's a good summary slide.

    Tuesday, 3 October 2017

    OOW17 Monday Day 2

    Let me try and summarise my OpenWorld Day 2.  The sky is blue and the walls are red with the only clouds being those mentioned in all the Oracle advertising.

    The opening PeopleSoft session of the day was Paco Aubrejuan (Senior Director of Product Strategy) delivering the high level Product Line Update and Investment Strategy.  It's true to say that there's been a significant amount of investment in PeopleSoft over recent years and that's planned to continue.

    • 2013 Selective Adoption and first Update Image released
    • 2014 Fluid user interface
    • 2016 Page Composer / Fluid Approvals and Elasticsearch
    • 2017 Cloud Manager

    Oracle continues to invest because there's over 5000 PeopleSoft customers.  72% of these are on release 9.2 but a notably low count of only 500 live on Fluid.  Paco's message was one of assuring customers of Oracle's continued commitment to invest in PeopleSoft applications and technology.    This commitment to support PeopleSoft is at least until 2027 and there was every expectation that each year that would get extended.   He encourage customers to continue to exploit all the features and enhancements delivered to date taking advantage of the PeopleSoft continuous delivery model and the availability of innovative and value added services on Oracle Compute Infrastructure.

    Paco showcased several customers that had fast-tracked new application features and then gave a live demo of the new HCM Onboarding feature and a live demo of new eBill applications in Financials  and the Supplier Portal.

    Later that day I sat through Dave Bains' PeopleSoft Technology strategy in which I heard that Oracle are continuing investment in Lifecycle Management, deployment automation and Cloud manager.  Oracle's website has a quote which I'm sure is true of many IT operations in that we spend a lot more time on maintenance than we do on delivering value and innovations.  It seems PeopleSoft future investment will continue to be in this area - helping customers reduce their maintenance costs and realise this vision.

    Because PeopleTools 8.56 was released a few months ago now the news of enhancements to Event Mapping and Page, Field Configurator and Cloud Manager were not new.

    Cloud Manager got a much more thorough coverage by Platforms Strategy Manager, Mark Hoernemann.  Basically Cloud Manager is a new PeopleSoft application which provides a self-service like interface to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services and allows users to provision and patch instances of PeopleSoft running in the Oracle Cloud.

    My final session of the day was my own which explored Selective Adoption and how using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Manager can help.  I'm going to blog more on this in the coming weeks but for now here's my presentation.

    Monday, 2 October 2017

    OOW17 Sunday Day 1

    Moscone Centre - OpenWorld 2017
    It's a blue San Francisco sky and the buildings, buses, flags and posters are all red.  Yep... it's Oracle OpenWorld.  It's 2017 and Oracle have the gloves off - it's Oracle Cloud vs Amazon AWS.

    Self aware database?
    Watch Larry Ellison's Sunday night keynote for all the news and live race-demos of Oracle Cloud vs AWS.  Larry argues that Oracle Cloud  is cheaper, faster with higher availability than AWS for data-warehouse loads.  He also featured Oracle's new "autonomous database" - fully automated, real-time security patching, tunes itself, can assign additional compute resources when it's needed without downtime and more is coming in the data warehouse product available in December 2017.  (Apparently Amazon spent $60m on Oracle technology this year).   Oracle continue to be serious about becoming the number one player in the cloud services space.  Oh yes... they intend to win this battle.

    Sasank addresses a packed room on Sunday
    Most of the PeopleSoft sessions are located in Moscone South this year and after a painless registration and collecting my disappointingly empty conference backpack (not even a pen! ) I made my way up to floor 3 for some terrific Life Hacks for PeopleSoft by Sasank Vemana - PeopleSoft, JavaScript, Fluid and CSS genius.... I'm not even going to try to cover anything in my update today - simply going to point you to his very useful blog.  These were some of the things he did live coding demonstrations of.
    Sasank also wins my Quote of the day.... "Somehow the stars were aligned and Push Notifications started working".  Thank you Sasank :-)

    Now I'm a "real" PS Admin - no more pretending !
    Today I feel like I made it into the special club of PeopleSoft Administrators.  I was given a very special badge -- a laptop sticker from Dan & Kyle at psadmin.io .  Thank you !

    These guys have brought together an amazing grass roots community  of PeopleSoft techs/admins/DBAs and developers on their Slack channel and have been prolific pod casters, bloggers and all round useful repository of vital information on DPK, ACM , Puppet and all things YAML.  So, this session on all things PCA (PeopleSoft Cloud Architecture) certainly ticked all the boxes with a really neat live demo of a DPK reconfiguration of PIA and some very useful insights into how GIT can be used effectively to manage DPK code and configurations.  Download their presentation, become members of the Slack channel, listen to the podcasts, sign up for the DPK training and join the fun.    What their presentation shows is that fully automating the installation and configuration of PeopleSoft instances is not just a dream.... start small, learn more advanced DPK features, broaden the scope and automate more each time.

    Dan & Kyle - captains of admin