Implementing Oracle Integration Cloud Service – Gone Alpha

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alpha-logoWe have taken our book on ICS into Packt Publishing’s Alpha programme so that if you order the book now – you can see the chapters as soon as they have received editorial approval and the complete final book will be made available to you as soon as we’re have addressed all the feedback, made any final improvements we have identified once we have completed the book’s draft.

img_0282-1The book can be found on the Packt website – here

Details about the Authors from Packt can be seen at:

eBook(lets) from O’Reilly

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I received an email through the virtual Java User Group highlighting the availability of a couple of eBooks around Java published by O’Reilly. The details are below. The books are more booklets (nothing wrong with that). The key difference being that they are shorter and focused on one or two focused subjects (in this case Java 8’s Lambda’s & Streams) which is great because I don’t want a whole Java book again, I just want to get a handle on the key changes and language innovations. It is worth highlighting that these aren’t just ‘free chapters’ which is what you see happen sometimes as the goal of the book is described, doesn’t depend on prior chapters to work the illustrated material and structured with the appropriate cover material contents, index etc so works as a discrete entity.

This approach seems to be coming more common at O’Reilly at least as a marketing device, and we have seen this being done with the Dummies brand where the booklets have then been printed as conference give aways.

Some may argue that this is a reflection of our ever shortening attention span with books. This maybe the case for some, but I suspect it is more about providing some that is more digestible than a ‘free chapter’, but more importantly reflects the recognition that for books that are providing guides (as opposed to reference books – which I’d include patterns books) people don’t want to buy a latest edition of a book where the 1st chapters are exactly the same as the previous edition of the book and that the only significant change is a new section on Lambdas for example.

Any way the latest book details received are:

by Raoul-Gabriel Urma
Offers a practical tutorial to some of the core Java 8 features and gets you programming quickly with Java 8.
by Richard Warburton
Explains the similarities and differences between functional programming and object oriented programming with Java focused examples.

http://insightfullogic.com
@RichardWarburto

The other book(lets) that have drawn my attention to the trend include:

In addition to these Book(let)s O’Reilly offer a range of ‘reports’ such as:

 

In addition O’Reilly have a page on ‘Open Books’ (here) – covering significant texts O’Reilly have had some involvement in but published under licenses such as Create Commons.

 

Windows 10 Pain

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Recently I like many have upgraded from Windows 7 (pro) to Windows 10 by passing the much disliked Windows 8.  Whilst it has taken some to settle down with Windows 10 – the UI changes whilst good in some areas have niggled in others.

anniversary_start_menu-600x491But I have learnt a nasty little lesson in the last 24 hours.  I always used to have Windows 7 configured to create restore points – so an app installation typically would also result in a restore point being established.  Well that I discovered appears to have been switched off as a result of the Windows 10 upgrade – so I’ve had to explicitly re-enable it. Fortunately I found this out as result of another problem that I managed to recover from.

As to my other problem, I am also disappointed with the way Windows 10 reacts.  This one is perhaps a little more unusual – I run my desktop with mirrored drives. Whilst I I haven’t switched my system disk over to an SSD (migrating a system disk still involves an OS rebuild – which I never seem to have time for) the mirroring was intended to do 2 things 1 resilience so if a drive lets go then I’m not dead in the water but also more performance as the OS should be smart enough to read from both disks.  However, every now and again when shutting down in Windows 7 (and Windows 10 I have now discovered) will lose synchronization.

Whilst a pain – and also a little unsettling as there is always the question of data corruption. Identifying the problem and resolving in Windows 7 wasn’t difficult – electing which drive image to boot from, then going into Windows management and ensuring disks were ok, and setting the resync activity off. But under Windows 10 – not so great. So you get stuck into a reboot error cycle with a volmgrx_internal_error.  I have a USB stick with a Windows 10 Recovery image – what a waste of space.  Having looked around on the net saw the usual guidance of get to a shell ruin chkdsk etc. Well getting to a prompt is fiddly, and chkdsk doesn’t recognize an issue!  Finally I decided to try the Windows 7 image you can retain when installing – and although slow booting compared to Windows 10. We’re in and see the problem – usual actions, a reboot and all is well.

So lessons, re-enable check pointing, create a restore drive image (probably easier to recover from).  Reconsider a simpler single SSD boot drive, and bite the bullet of a system rebuild.

AIA Rides Again?

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canonicaldatamodel

For those who have been using the Application Integration Architecture on top of Oracle SOA Suite, will probably know that Oracle have sunset AIA as of 12c.  For 12.1 there are Core Extensions to help transition onto the 12c platform but 12.2 leaves these behind.

One of the more valuable parts of AIA for many has been the prebuilt but extensible canonical data model, which are then used by the Prebuilt Integration Packs (PIPs). Having a ready built canonical form can save an enormous amount of effort (consider the amount of effort invested by OASIS and other standards bodies to define standardised data definitions).

So with AIA not moving forward and the canonical form (i.e. XML Schema) no longer being maintained. The question begs how to move forward?  Well given that the model is represented by XML schema you could harvest the schema from an 11g environment, package them up and deploy them in a standalone manner in a 12c environment.  Whilst this will work, it does mean that the data model wont have any future evolution other than by home grown effort.

Depending on your commitment to the AIA model, there is another option to adopt another prebuild form.  I know as result of talking with several other Oracle AIA customers that people are adopting OAGIS.  This isn’t surprising as they have similar characteristics in the way to extend, the way the definitions are defined and structured etc.  Not to mention some common ancestry. However if you have a significant level of utilisation moving to a new model is potentially going to have a significant level of impact.

image008As we have also elected to go the OAGIS route (but fortunately are fairly youthful in our adoption so have elected to switch quickly for all but a couple of objects types. Given this,  I periodically check in with the OAGIS website to come across the following:

Oracle Enterprise Business Objects Contributed to OAGi 
We are very pleased to announce that Oracle has contributed their Enterprise Business Objects (EBOs) and associated IP to OAGi!
The Oracle EBOs are based on OAGIS BODs from a past release and no longer supported by Oracle so they contributed them to us to harmonize with the current version of OAGIS and preserve a technology path for EBO customers.
This also gives OAGi an opportunity to further improve OAGIS content and scope.
I take this as proof of Oracle’s commitment to Open Standards and plan to say so in a press release.  I personally thank Oracle for this commitment.
Scott Nieman of Land O’Lakes will be presenting his Project Definition to begin the process of harmonization on Friday, June 3, at 11 AM EDT at the Next meeting which, as members, you are all invited. Please let me know if you don’t have an invitation and I will forward it to you.
Please join me in thanking Oracle and also please try to engage in our harmonization process to improve OAGIS.

So the basis of this is that OAGIS will gain greater coverage of their domain views. But additionally Scott Nieman will be blazing the way to easing the migration path. I have been fortunate enough to meet and talk with Scott at Oracle Open World and it will be worth keeping an eye out for his findings.

Cloud FTP

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Whilst working on our book about Oracle’s Integration Cloud Service I looked around to see what options are available for FTP based services, below is a list of the services, we can’t testify to the quality etc of the service but might be easier than a Google search and ploughing through the results as FTP does occur a lot even in services that don’t support the standard.

What was interesting was none of the major document collaboration platforms offer an FTP based view onto their platform, but rather push an API. Whilst it is clear that FTP wouldn’t provide all the richness of the capabilities of Dropbox, Box, One Drive etc it is as a standard so universally supported that it would mean you could have the most common use models supported from just about anywhere without needing to install a proprietary app or writing code against an API. It would be interesting to see how how such capabilities could impact areas such as IoT.

Fortunately ICS includes social adapters that allows it to connect to these social platforms. But, we still need an easy FTP server to help show how to use FTP (it is still used heavily win closed ecosystems), so here is the list:

Maintenance & Patching For SOA CS

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When you’re using SOA Suite to run round the clock services you need to give a fair bit of thought to your deployment configuration so it becomes possible to perform rolling patches and other maintenance tasks not only to SOA itself but all the way down to the hardware – and at the low levels you have no control on the maintenance process.  Although it is very easy to think that the moment you’re using PaaS that these problems are taken care for you, life isn’t as simple as that.

Oracle cloud services typically go through a patching process once a month and usually within a defined 8 hour period on a Friday night. During this period you may lose the use of your servers as the maintenance is performed within a particular availability zone. In an ideal world this would be a rolling process so you don’t lose everything at once. If the maintenance window is used to to deploy SOA Suite patches then although you will be told of the maintenance window you actually wont have an outage, but post the maintenance window your cloud dashboard will have the option to apply the patches at a time that best suits you. Not only that the patch application process is smart enough to apply it in a rolling manner as the Weblogic nodes in the cluster will have information on each other which the patch mechanism can utilise.

So where is the problem.  It is very easy to forget that the PaaS platform is virtual, this means the virtualization platform being software will inevitably need patching whether that is for bug fixing,  addressing security requirements or adding new capabilities. These kinds of changes today will trigger a service shutdown. Let’s be honest when trying to balance a rolling change and maximise PaaS client density is going to create a monumentally complex problem, so simplicity and and speed of roll-out suggests a small outage is easier. So how do I therefore assure I can maintain a quality of service if I accept this as a necessity?


Well the answer is pretty much the same as  an on premise reference architecture.  Have SOA with its supporting databases running in a second availability zone that will have a different patch time. This is going to push up the cost as you’ll need a database with Dataguard. Assuming an active-passive model across your centres, as you approach the maintenance window you’ll get your load balancer to route work load to the second location and let the existing workload run dry on the servers due to go through the maintenance process. Then after the maintenance window you’ll reverse the process.

The current gotchya with this is that you pay for SOA by the month so you in effect have to run two clusters, although hour and daily models are coming.With the hourly model you can have the second availability zone ready for use by keeping the DB alive there, but only startup the SOA instances on the hourly rate when you know the maintenance window is going to occur and it is clear there will be an infrastructure impact.

The other sticky point, is presently as the period allocated is upto eight hours, your second centre needs to be running in a timezone with atleast 8 hours difference (allowing time to fail back). This would mean if you are using the Amsterdam or Slough locations your second location is going to West coast US or Asia Pacific once live later this year or Japan. All of which will present serious issues regarding personal data.

I have been told that some signficiant customers have accepted the situation on the basis the downtime in reality isn’t frequent and correlates to low business periods. But I suspect competition and customer demand will force this to change.

All quiet?

We’ve not blogged much in the last month as we have been busy On a number of activities that will result in a fair bit coming out I a while, we have also been posting a little bit on the Community.oracle.com site. So what is it we’ve been working on? Well …

  • Formally contracted now with Packt to write a book on Oracle Integration Cloud Service – we’ve been working on this for a while now but with the goal of being in print for Oracle Open World we’ve been going flat out.
  • With Oracle Open World proposals open we have submitted a number of proposals both with my book co-author and independently.
  • UKOUG activities are happening with a contributing role to to a special event on cloud adoption – the agenda for this is looking really good. The next middleware SIG planning is moving on nicely. Plus the review cycle of the next Oracle Scene.
  • Participated in a OTN Archbeat podcast recording – was great deal of fun.
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