Tuesday, 16 December 2008

UKOUG PeopleSoft Conference 2008

Just got back from the annual UKOUG PeopleSoft Conference at the ICC in Birmingham.

This was the first year we have had a dedicated conference space for the PeopleSoft community and this worked really well. Knowing that everyone you bumped into in the breaks, lunch and exhibition had something to do with PeopleSoft was a great benefit. There's nothing worse than mingling with 2,000 people trying to find your friends let alone meet new people.

Big thankyou to UKOUG staff who succesfully planned and organised this event and to all the PeopleSoft customers, vendors and Oracle staff that attended and supported.

Here's just a quick run down of the content from the PeopleSoft Technology Stream.

Jim Marion from Oracle gave a whistle stop tour through some great developer ideas, tips and tricks on how to improve productivity and extend existing PeopleTools functionality. Jim is a great bloke who loves to share what he's learned and it was wonderful to meet Jim face to face after years of reading Jim's PeopleSoft Journal. Thanks Jim for making the trip over to the UKOUG.

Conference would not be conference without a look at what's coming in the next release in PeopleTools and to hear and see what the PeopleTools developers are dreaming of. This year was no exception and we were delighted to see again our friend Jeff Robbins from Oracle. He took us down the long list of genuinely cool and radical enhancements being planned for Tools release 8.50 and the PeopleSoft Portal. You can see these and more on the Oracle PeopleTools blog. We really value your presence at our user events especially as most of us don't make it to OpenWorld. Thanks Jeff.

Again, yet more good friends of the PeopleSoft Technology user community made the long journey over from the USA to support and contribute ideas, knowledge and opinion. So, we were delighted so see Larry and Chris from Grey Sparling giving their usual brand of high value, high quality content on developer best practise and using social networking ideas with PeopleSoft. Again, you should all know about these guys from theire prolific blogging. Good to see you both again and thank you.

Of course the local boys and girls were also out in force and a very useful session by Dave Kurtz of Go-Faster Consulting on Performance Monitor and a quite inspiring session on upgrading application configuration by our friends from Succeed Consulting and Tescos ended my day on Thursday with a warm feeling!

I missed the last day of conference to attend a family funeral but one of my developers from Oxfam gave me some positive feedback from all the tech sessions and discussions he went to.

These events only have value if people come and share.

There's value in community and I believe the PeopleSoft community in the UK is very much alive, seeking to get value from existing investments in these challenging economic times and looking to the future for opportunities like PeopleTools 8.50 and application upgrades such as FSCM and HR 9.1.

It was great to see old friends and some new ones.

See you all in 2009 at the UKOUG PeopleSoft conference and Technology SIG meetings.


Thursday, 23 October 2008


Just having a few thoughts on virtualisation. I grew up on MPE, VMS and started developing on MS-DOS v1.0. Is history about to repeat itself?

As more and more companies switch to virtualisation (aka buying fewer, bigger mainframes!) the hardware manufacturers will sell fewer low and mid range servers. The result of this will be that the high end servers required for virtualisation will increase in price thus reducing (or even negating) the hardware saving benefit of virtualisation through hardware rationalisation.

One of the reasons mainframe manufacturers got overtaken by the "mini computer" in the 1980s and 1990s was that the price of many small servers was significantly less than one or two big ones. Hardware vendors kept prices low because of the economies of scale in producing large numbers of smaller servers. Open Systems also drove this change but in my experience Finance Directors were persuaded more by cost than the value proposition of Open Systems.

Hardware vendors DID NOT INVENT virtualisation. This has been driven by software vendors. Hardware vendors are therefore having to ensure they position now to gain a market share so that when they do increase prices they'll have a captive market tied into their "proprietary" hardware.

OK..ok..ok.... I'm just speculating. But it's going to be interesting to see how it evolves.

  1. 1980s the rise of personal computers
  2. 1990s the rise of the network server and the demise of the mainframe
  3. 2000s the rise of SANs and the emergence of virtualisation
  4. 2010s the demise of the network server and rise of the mainframe 


Monday, 29 September 2008

My Oracle OpenWorld 2008

Well this was my second trip to San Francisco. The first time was in 1989 for a Hewlett-Packard Interex Conference just weeks before the big earthquake! It was my first Oracle OpenWorld Conference though and was able to attend due to getting a speaker ticket. So here's my summary of the weeks events, news and gossip.

Oracle Opening KeyNote was given by Oracle President Charles Phillips and I really got the impression that Oracle is not only a VERY BIG organisation but is also VERY diverse. Consequently Oracle had an audience made up of everyone from hardcore, oily-rag DBA types all the way to thought leaders in relationship marketing. The keynote was therefore pitched accordingly - impossible to engage with everyone in the room. If I went to a VolksWagon owners club then I'd be with thousands of others that owned Volkswagan vehicles - we all have something in common. I'm not sure what an Oracle Java developer and a VP of Finance that uses Oracle applications has in comon?

I have to say before I write more that this was one of the best IT events I have ever attended for quality and volume of content and for the brilliant event logistics and venues. San Francisco was also a great city to host this in - albeit a bit of a culture shock for an Oxford Brit like me.

So down to some useful PeopleSoft and Oracle related stuff. These are in no particular order and I'm going to write in my own "brief" style just to keep this short. I've ranted enough already.

  1. PeopleTools 8.50 (probably out sometime late 2009) looks awesome. AJAX based calls for all the things in PIA that we wanted FieldEdits, RowInserts/Deletes, callapsible areas, warnings/errros, prompt edit lookups, hover pages, a great new looking style (which you only get with a 9.1 apps upgrade) and some lovely grid features that allow dynamic re-sizing of columns, drag and drop column ordering and freezable and scrollable column blocks. A new style header based drop down menu looks great and frees up a load of pixels on the left of every page now. A rich text edit box is now available in PIA and mechanism to keep track of what menu items you visit (a bit like browser history). Read and see more on the Oracle PeopleTools Blog This is an exciting tools release that you can apply to any apps release from 8.4 upwards. Now THIS is the power of meta driven development frameworks like PeopleTools. Without upgrading the application you can apply PeopleTools 8.50 and get a totally revamped user interface experience. Oh yes!!!!!

  2. The Collaboration components of the Enterprise Portal Collaboration Suite are being packaged and sold separatley (for a small "fee") so that customers without the full Enterprise Portal can attach tags, wikis, discussions and documents to everyday transactions like vendors, employees, purchase orders, etc.

  3. Oracle Beehive was announced as a new product for Oracle. This is a WEB 2.0 based collaboration suite and backoffice system. As if Oracle wasn't divers already - now their competing with Microsoft Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes. Lots of Oracle staff buzzing around wearing black with yellow stripe t-shirts!

  4. The HP Oracle Database Machine was an major announcement by Larry himself taking stage with a big black box with an Oracle badge on it. I'm not a hardware expert so will just direct you to the Oracle blurb.

  5. PeopleSoft Finance 9.1 is planned for release sometime 2009.
  6. All the plastic cups, lunch boxes and cutlery were made from compostable potato and corn starch. Green Oracle!
  7. IBM were sponsoring several spots around the venue where you could plug your phone or laptop into a bike and using pedal power to recharge it. THIS WAS SO COOL - except they didn't have a British 3 pin adapter form me.
  8. Ever wondered how high you can safely set your WebLogic JVM heap size to? Well, the word from Oracle and several PeopleSoft customers who had tried it is 1024MB. Any higher than this and "weird things" start happening.
  9. .... my brain is getting all fuzzy now at the end of this manic week so I'm going to stop and continue this later.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Oracle OpenWorld 2008

I will be presenting two sessions at this years Oracle OpenWorld 2008 event in San Francisco.

I will be giving a live demo of how to setup a Synchronous Message and Web Service in PeopleSoft 8.49 and also highlighting and discussing many of the PeopleSoft timeout and cache settings available.

More details can be found here at the Session Builder

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Fix to serious SQL Server Performance Problems

You'll see from an earlier post I made back in  March 2008 (http://i-like-trains.blogspot.com/2008/03/upgrading-to-microsoft-sql-server-2005.html) that after an upgrade from SQL Server 2000 to 2005 many serious performance problems were encountered.

After a massive amount of testing and research I believe most of the issues are resolved by applying two Microsoft hotfixes.




These cannot be applied individually and are only available as part of a Cumulative Update package. CU Package 7 contains both of these fixes.

However, just installing CU7 will not activate these hotfixes and a two trace flags need to be set in order for any benefit to be seen.

They are

DBCC TRACEON (212,-1) 
DBCC TRACEON (4115,-1)

We are in the process of regression testing to make sure that CU7 does not break anything and that these hotfixes resolve most of our most serious performance problems.  So far it's looking hopeful.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2005

We are in the process of upgrading FSCM 8.9 to SQL Server 2005 and
have hit very few problems. However, I thought it might be useful to
someone if I listed the few issues that we did have.

1. We had a Query expression which preserved the native SQL Server datetime format.


2. In PeopleTools 8.1x PS Query did not support Outer Joins using the ANSI sql OUTER JOIN. Therefore Queries had to use the *= and =* notation embedded within expresssions. In SQL Server compatibility mode 90 this old style syntax is not supported. However, when you re-write your queries make sure you verify the results. One of the reasons *= was unpopular was that you could not differentiate between row selector criteria and join criteria as all predictes came after the WHERE clause. This sometimes gave undesired results. For example...

select COL1, COL2
where A.COL1 *= B.COL1
and A.COL2 = 'something'

does not give the same results as

select COL1, COL2
from TABLE1 A
outer join TABLE2 B ON A.COL1 = B.COL1
where A.COL2 = 'something'

To obtain the same results as the original you would beed to add the row selector critiera and make it part of the join criteria. Like this

select COL1, COL2
from TABLE1 A
outer join TABLE2 B ON A.COL1 = B.COL1 and A.COL2 = 'something'

One of the side effects of rebuilding a query using the new OUTER JOIN syntax is that table alias names may change. If they do and the query is used in a Crystal report you must verify your Crystal report and remap any fields where the alias has changed.

3) Look out for NEW reserved words in SQL 2005. We had a few column aliases that are now reserved words in 2005.

Apart from these fairly trivial issues we are seeing some major benefits from moving SQL 2005. We're not live in production yet but will be by the end of March 2008.

Final note.... read and take note of the Oracle White Paper for SQL Server 2005 here. http://www.microsoft-oracle.com/assets/pdf/Oracle_whitepaper_FINAL.PDF

Monday, 18 February 2008

UKOUG PeopleSoft Technology SIG - 23 April 2008

The next PeopleSoft Technology Special Interest Group will be on 23 April 2008 in London.

This event is looking for speakers to present PeopleTools related topics. You don't need to talk for an hour. Just 15 minutes PeopleTools related story telling is all that's required.

Contact me if you think you'd like to contribute something to this PeopleSoft community event.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

WebLogic 9 and enabling static file reloads

PeopleTools 8.49 ships with WebLogic 9. The Oracle supplied default configuration will not check if static resources (files) located in your PORTAL home directory have been changed.

The resulting problem is that if you change your index.html file (or any static resource) then WebLogic server will correctly pass the new file back to the client but for some reason WebLogic decides to pickup the fact that the file has changed but not that the size of the file has changed. So when WebLogic attempts to send the new file to the client it keeps the content-length directive in the http header the same as the original. The new file is therefore truncated if the new one is larger or you get a server error if it's shorter. The workaround ? .... reboot PIA whenever a static resource changes. Clearly not a viable option.

Of course in the PeopleSoft application all static files (.js, .jpg, .css, etc) are served using the cs servlet so if you are 100% vanilla with no need to change any static files on your PS web server then this will never be a problem for you.

The solution is to add the following directive (in bold) into the weblogic.xml file under WEB-INF inside the container-discriptor section.


I have found that if you reload the web profile using the (undocumented and probably unsupported) web server PIA directives then you can make a change to the signon.html file and have these changes take effect without bouncing the PIA service. Just make the change to the file and use the
?cmd=reloadconfig switch.