Virtually everything produced by Oracle Corporation is documented. Adding a qualifier to that statement, one could say that most everything is well documented and documented well. We’ve seen the explosion of books regarding database administration, utilities and supporting products – almost all of which have to do with supporting or using the database management system. One area in which the amount of documentation is notably sparse is that of Oracle Applications.
Aside from Oracle’s own documentation covering Oracle Apps – and you can determine for yourself if that is well documented, documented well, or both – and a few books covering specific modules, the published books landscape regarding EBS is fairly barren. There are two notable generalist coverage books available that can help you get a good jump on learning Oracle Applications.
Oracle 11i E-Business Suite from the Front Lines
This book, authored by April Wells (her name may be familiar if you have some certification prep books) and published by Auerbach Publications, is a must have book if you are new to EBS, specifically, an older version of EBS (something in the 11.5.x series). Some of the material in the book, assuming you’ve been a DBA for a while, is a quick review readily skipped. However, several chapters really stand out because of the depth of detail covered by the author. Some of the key chapters that make owning this book worthwhile are listed below
Chapter 4, Apache
Has more information in it about the HTTP server than some books dedicated to Apache do. More than 60 parameters are described. The Oracle HTTP Server, based on Apache, plays a key role in virtually all Web-based Oracle products. For example, using the HTTP Server with Oracle 10g in Application Express, you may wonder what the “/i/” alias is (or how it works). Alias is but one of the many parameters covered in this chapter.
Chapter 7, Printing
Users still prefer (and may require) paper copies of what is shown in Oracle Forms. Not just for reports, either. Printing invoices out of an Apps module is probably the number one deliverable of this ERP system, so knowing how to make printing work is quite important. But, how often do you setup and configure printers? Probably not that often, so it helps to have a good reference for this critical piece of functionality. If you have a background in getting Oracle Reports to print, much of this chapter will be familiar to you, but with some variations. Report URLs frequently have several “des-whatever” parameters in them (desformat, desname, destype). You’ll see these in EBS printer configuration settings.
Chapter 9, Installation and Migration
Some of the material covered here, given that the publication date of this book was in 2004, covers going from the very old to the relatively old. But that’s okay, as many of the topics are still relevant, and that is the value of this chapter. You may not be upgrading your database to 9.2 (as an example in the chapter), but the point is that you may be upgrading the database, so the take-away is the reminder to consider what it takes to upgrade, new features and all. Recommendations include:
- Having a plan
- Understanding what the changes are (database and within the apps tier)
- Planning when to upgrade, as in don’t be the first to use a new version (who does and why?)
- Establish a team
- Identify a fallback position or point
- Upgrading in phases
Chapter 10, Patching
By far, one of the best consolidated, to the point overview of patching I’ve seen. Granted, some of the details here are specific to EBS, but the basics apply to every Oracle product under the sun. Good introduction on how to use opatch. MetaLink note 242993.1, OPatch FAQ, last dated 14 Sep 2007, is another good opatch reference. One dated piece of information is how to get opatch. With later versions of Oracle (10.2 and up), you get it as part of the installation, so there is no need to download from MetaLink anymore. However, MetaLink note 224346.1 recommends checking for later versions of this tool.
Chapter 12, Concurrent Managers and Concurrent Programs
A very common distribution of resources on an EBS system is a mixture of users operating in an OLTP fashion, and behind the scenes batch processing/number crunching (a concurrent program). A concurrent manager, as the name implies, manages concurrent programs. Getting the concurrent manager to operate correctly, or rather, not being able to, is why some businesses have outsourced the administration of EBS to a three-letter acronym named company whose database is a direct competitor of Oracle.
The truth of the matter is this: just because the outsourced-to company has a big name behind it does not mean that the administration of your system is being performed that well. Maintaining up time? Probably better because of the nature the business and service level agreements. Logon to the remote server (if you can), run mail, and see that the inbox has been accumulating mail for the past four years, or that daily system check scripts are checking for things that have no relevance whatsoever is a little disconcerting, especially when you consider how (hugely) expensive it is to outsource this system. I digress.
If you understand the contents of this chapter, and can master the management of what I’ll call concurrency, you’ll see that the myth that it takes five DBAs and a little boy to manage Oracle Apps is just that: a myth. Not that it won’t be painful getting a handle on this part of EBS, but once you understand how everything operates, it’s not that hard to do.
Oracle Applications DBA Field Guide
Written by Elke Phelps and Paul Jackson (published by Apress), this relatively compact book has two chapters which make owning this guide worthwhile. Chapter 3, Monitoring and Troubleshooting, and Chapter 4, Performance Tuning, cover just about every aspect of what the chapter titles entail – plus they include lots of scripts. Some of the database monitoring scripts are fairly standard, but it’s the information about the non-database components that stands out. All in all, it’s not a bad book to give someone who is new to Oracle Apps and needs to fill in for a week or two.
Most of the Oracle Apps books currently in the marketplace are old, even Internet-age old. If three Internet months equals one year (by one definition), some of these books are more than 20 years old. That should drive home the fact that Oracle Applications, like many other Web-based applications, may be subject to rapid aging or rapid changing. It’s interesting to note that the core Web functionality (at least as late as 11.5.10) was based on relatively ancient versions of Application Server. In any event, there is probably room for a newer or updated book covering the 12 series.