Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

« August 2015 | Main | October 2015 »

September 30, 2015

Enterprise DevOps and Oracle

Various organizations dread the traditional development execution cycles because applications take longer time to deploy, become more turbulent, and continually get worse. IT operations are mired in firefighting mode all the time. DevOps is the perfect blend of the software development and IT operations.

Organizational Stakeholders have different needs on their minds. Management demands faster time to market and quicker turnaround, Operations team ought to have ease of operations and flexible environments, Developers and Testers are constantly striving for efficiency and visibility.

DevOps is the most appropriate answer to satisfy these stakeholders with a Continuous Delivery Approach.

 DevOps offers - Seamless Environment, Build, Continuous Integration On-Demand, and Scalability Quality & Compliance with its three building blocks- People, Process and Tools.

Let us understand this journey of DevOps -

 1.      PEOPLE - Change Culture:

 Siloed setup, narrow thinking and resistance to change among the organizational staff is one of the biggest area of concern. We all understand that 'People' are the most important building block.

People are capable of:

1.       Focusing on the Business Value and Solution Perspective

2.       Fostering a team of peers to resolve issues

3.       Improving continually by setting up a feedback mechanism

 Organizational Change Management is a transformation exercise where understanding human impact is very critical in order to be proactive rather than reactive. This exercise would require creation of a Change Roadmap, setting the correct expectations, identifying and mitigating the risks by reducing misinformation and putting up a proper communication mechanism. Enabling the users to fully leverage the capabilities of the new system thereby increasing the chances of adoption.

  2.      PROCESS - One Development to Operations Cycle:

 Process is the part that sets the wheel in motion.  Having a common unified SDLC process and automating for consistency all across the organization can lift the big stone off your chest. It is important to measure hence have a metrics driven control and improvement loop. An organizational level approach is needed to optimize the processes to derive business results. This systematic approach would result in maximizing the productivity of the individual participants which in most cases are the employees.

Processes defined need to follow iterative and incremental approach of having a standardized development methodology, clear communication and documented processes. It should stand on the strong pillars which bring in agility and provide greater availability to the enterprise's IT infrastructure.

 3.      TOOLS - Deploy:

 Tools act an as an enabler for all that we have talked about till now. Coherent tool chain supports the people and the process. They establish integration, automation and traceability.

There are various processes/tasks that developers often have to perform like Customizations, Automation, Interfaces, Integration, Patching, Cloning etc. Tools can provide the developers a standard automation solution to schedule for an Export or Import task once.

 

 Oracle offers an array of products that could help you in your enterprise DevOps journey. One such example is the Oracle Cloud Developer Service is a Development Platform as a Service. By creating a new project you get access to git repositories, Apache Maven and Ant processes, Hudson Continuous Integration and various project templates. It also fosters a culture of sharing project information among the members of your team.

Another one is Oracle Enterprise Manager which offers the users a single pane view of the Private and Public Clouds. It supports devops by offering application performance and application quality management capabilities. It also simplifies Weblogic Management.

Top of the charts Oracle product would be using Oracle Exalogic for devops. It offers benefits like enhancing the performance of middleware and applications. It is built-infrastructure for you focus on developing and deploying.

 

DevOps standing tall on these three pillars enable businesses in phasing out the Back-office applications which are nearing there end-of life and are rigid and the DevOps Principles apply to all softwares in general. Most importantly DevOps focus is on the entire delivered Service rather than the Code.

September 28, 2015

Using Persona's for a Better BI Experience

While designing an application, people generally tend to forget about the holistic experience and rather lay emphasis to only the nuts-n-bolts. While we are right to lay emphasis on capturing the functional and non-functional requirements what we generally miss out on is the different perspectives that should be looked. There are the sponsors who would broadly define the scope and objectives, the IT department who would have their own list of non-functional requirements and then right at the center the vast array of users. Its almost like a house being built for a thousand people with everyone having their own opinion. You've heard about too many cooks, imagine the same with a thousand residents! You are sure to cry out for help! And help does arrive to an extent with the usage of Personas.

The Thought Behind Persona's

So what are Peronas you might ask. Well they are nothing but fictitious characters (much like the ones created during script readings or trials for a theater show!) and act as subs for the real users. The main aim behind building personas is to define the personality of a particular groups of users by identifying their motives, expectations and goals which drive them. Personas help in keeping the objectives clear and help retain the focus rather than expanding the horizons ever so frequently. They also help uncover information that may previously have remained unearthed and help concentrate on the users needs rather than their wants.

Personas and Design Thinking

The core of design thinking as I understand it is the need to understand the end consumer. This needs to be done in a way which captures 360 information which can provide information on behavior, belief, philosophy along with their motivations and intentions.

As such the personas created should be not be just limited to an individual but the role that they might be fulfilling in the organization. These should capture the individuals demographics, responsibilities at work and job characteristics. They should capture the information needs and data interactions along with the standard Dashboards and Reports used and the typical pain points while using the application.

As you can see, Personas if built correctly can help to quite an extent to gain a more holistic view of the business users requirements compared to the tradition methods adopted. Not only can the design of Dashboard and Reports be facilitated to quite an extent but even the security setup and robustness of the application are captured in quite detail.

Data Lineage and Impact Analysis

As both a BI Consumer and Author, I have always felt the need to know the origin of the data getting displayed on the reports. Having worked on quite a few BI Apps implementations in the last few years, the joy I felt on hearing about the new Data Lineage and Impact Analysis functionality provided by Oracle as part of OBIA 11.1.1.8.1 knew no bounds!

Traditionally BI implementers have had to in a way fight for scraps of information pieces contained within multiple applications or documents. This would then be loosely coupled together to cater to a quick fit-gap requirements exercise or in other cases a more detailed impact analysis job.

With the introduction of these new features, Oracle has ensured a highly integrated and transparent environment providing metadata to put together metadata from the data warehouse, reporting and configuration layers and creating a holistic and end-to-end view of the BI Apps dataset.

How Data Lineage Works in BI Apps

In BI Apps data traverses through multiple layers before actually reaching the dashboards and reports. From a reporting perspective the physical model of the data warehouse is mapped to a business model which forms the logical or semantic layer. This in turn is mapped to the OBIEE presentation tables and columns which are used for the dashboard and report creation. The warehouse itself is loaded in two stages, first using source specific data mappings (SDEs) to extract data from source to staging tables and then using source-independent mappings (SILs) which are used to populate the final target data warehouse tables from these staging tables.

With ODI used to extract metadata from the BI Apps Configuration Manager and its own tables, Oracle has integrated this quite seamlessly and combined the OBIEE metadata through use of RPD and catalog metadata documentation. An ODI load plan then is executed to combine the data contained in these metadata repositories and stored in warehouse tables which are then used for the OOTB Data Lineage dashboards and can also be used to create one's own data lineage and impact analysis reports.

Benefits and Improvement Areas

Once the initial setups and configurations are done and the data lineage tables have been loaded, the OOTB model itself provides enough metadata to cover all the lineage and impact analysis reports that might be required. As is evident, this reduces analysis effort drastically and also reduces dependence of any kind on the ETL team to trace back columns. Anyone and everyone is now enabled to look at and understand where their data is coming from! The metadata provided covers all the main stages in the data load process and also extends to OTBI if that is being used along with BI Apps.

Even though we are still in the early days of exploration, there are a few areas which we are yet to discover. There doesn't seem to be any support for formulas applied in analytics and temp interfaces do not seem to be covered. Data lineage doesn't seem to work if views/procedures are being used in the ODI interfaces. Additionally any customization done in interfaces doesn't seem to be captured. We are in the midst of taking a deep dive on these and will post an update ASAP!

The Final Verdict

The Data Lineage functionality provided is definitely a good start and the belief is it would continually evolve to provide an even more integrated, robust and automated solution to information discovery within BI Apps.

September 3, 2015

Evolving Oracle's leadership in PPM solution

With the ever changing dynamics of industries and a need to maintain a cohesive project management processes in Project based enterprises, PPM solution has been become very critical for companies to maintain control and visibility on the projects. Oracle is competing with number of companies to maintain its leadership and to keep hold of its customers who are either using standalone applications for Project management or using ERP for Financials or new customers who are still on legacy systems. In the last few years, Oracle has acquired Primavera, then Skire and then acquired company called Instantis and also has built Fusion applications that too have the capability to be on Cloud. Gartner in its latest report has already recognized Oracle PPM solutions as the leader in the 'Major Quadrant for Cloud based IT PPM'. The idea of bringing all these latest applications under the unified solution of Oracle is to bridge the gap between Projects managers and the wider operational business in which projects are executed.

Skire's Unifier is cloud based and on premise comprehensive solution for Capital Project management, Real Estate and contract management and is best complemented in conjunction with Primavera.  Unifier and Primavera solution is best suited for large construction projects, high capital invested or asset intensive projects allowing customers to have integrated flow of information from Capital planning to operations & maintenance.

Instantis's Enterprise track is both cloud based and on premise application based on SAAS platform. Enterprise track allows PMO to manage projects and portfolios using top down approach in a simpler and flexible manner. Instantis customer's base are companies with relatively projects of smaller project sizes and simpler project management but with more focus on resource constrained environments, portfolio & strategy management and ease of use and implement. Integrating Instantis with Oracle Primavera provides customers with enhanced productivity and analysis across projects and portfolios, better reporting and resource management (RMMM- Resource Management Maturity Model) for smaller to large projects in enterprises irrespective of the complexity of the industry. Integration of the Instantis with Oracle Primavera and henceforth the ERP (Oracle Fusion Financials) complements the resource management, product & process initiatives of Enterprise track of Instantis with robust project scheduling capabilities in scheduled constraint environment and therefore eliminating the gap between effective project management to smooth execution of the project.

Subscribe to this blog's feed

Follow us on

Blogger Profiles

Infosys on Twitter