There are several ways you
can get your hands on E-Business Suite. The first, probably under lots of
supervision, is while at work. Your workplace may have several instances in
place, ranging from test, dev, QA, a mirror of production, and of course,
production. The installed database is likely to be created from a fresh
install, or an out of the box EBS installation. If not fresh, there is the
canned Vision Enterprises (VIS) starter or learning database. Keeping VIS around
requires one or more computers, which can be a significant investment,
especially if running a split node (two or more) architecture.
A second way to get your
hands on EBS is to install it yourself on a home computer. This installation
effort either works or it does not. Really, there is more to that statement
than meets the eye. If it works, you either installed R12, for example, on a
supported platform/environment, such as on a spare(?) Windows 2003 Server
Standard Edition R2 machine (yes, you can get server level versions of Windows for
free, obviously not for production purposes, just like you can get Oracle
software). Another popular OS setup involves some distribution of Linux. Oracle
Enterprise Linux (version 4 or 5) is pretty easy to install, but there is some
trade off against your home resources.
If you have a single
computer, part of your hard drive will be formatted for something other than
Windows, and the installation process will grab a significant chunk of free
space. How much it should grab can be controlled, so it helps to know ahead of
time how much space is consumed by what it takes to lay down the Linux OS and
what EBS will use (see the installation guide for exact amounts, but on the
order of 160GB or so for everything). If you have an older laptop, it is pretty
easy to install a 250GB hard drive, and the data transfer software can be
purchased fairly cheap (plus a new external case for the old drive, which you
can always use to restore your computer to the point in time before the
Once all of that is taken
care of, another variation from normal is how your computer boots,
specifically, which OS it starts with. Be sure to get your primary OS first on
the list because if you have to boot from a remote session (you have several
seconds to choose which OS to boot, but you have be in front of the terminal to
override the default), you won’t be able to get back to that environment.
Again, software ranges from free to relatively inexpensive to manage the boot
process. If you decide to wipe the Linux or non-Windows OS from your hard
drive, be sure to get the master boot record (MBR) reset to be Windows only.
Okay, hassle, I know it. How
about a company that gives you free access over the Internet? You are free to
do with whatever you can do as the “operations” user. Plus, you can logon to
three or four instances, each at a different release or update. Want to check
out the latest (or close to it) version of EBS, or do you need to see what
things were like several updates ago? For example, XML Publisher’s interface
(look and feel) in release 12 is a bit different from how it appears in 11.5.9
The downside is that any and
all work you’ve done to date will be lost during a refresh. Another is that the
modules you see today may not all be there afterwards. Overall, that is a very
small price to pay for free Web access. Who provides this service?
Solution Beacon provides
this access free of charge. You fill out a short registration form (your name,
email address and your CSI), wait a few minutes for a confirmation email (which
contains your username and password) and off you go. All in all, not a bad
deal, unless you do not have a CSI.
For the later versions of
EBS, you can choose to use Sun’s JRE plug-in instead of Oracle JInitiator. If
you elect to use the JRE plug-in, you will be prompted to download a file and
install it. Pretty easy to do, and it’s nice to say good-bye to Oracle JInitiator.
Beacon publishes books related to the care and feeding of E-Business Suite. I
downloaded (one of the delivery options) a book on 11.5.10 and was very
impressed by the thoroughness of how well the book covered so many topics in so
few pages. The cheesy picture on the cover of the book I could do without, but
whatever. One of the salient features of the book is its detailed description
of the technology stack.
I mention this because it
helps you understand why the later releases of EBS are using very dated
versions of other products, with Forms & Reports being one such example.
Given how much goes on internally, you can begin to appreciate the obstacle
Oracle faces in software development.
Although you would be passing
on the immense fun to be experienced when installing and using EBS on a home
computer, being able to use EBS for free (and multiple versions) is an
excellent deal, especially given the fact that later releases of EBS include
almost every option under the sun as opposed to an older model of installing
only what you’re licensed for. So, not only can you experiment with the modules
you’re licensed for, you can also poke around in the ones you’re not.