So what is life like, after Siebel?

It has been many, many months since my last blog update. Life has changed considerably for me in 2016 with my two kids growing up, school drop offs, homework and being aeroplanes in the garden taking precedence over writing articles and installing Siebel patches.

In addition to my focus on family life, I’ve also closed down my consultancy (the imaginatively named “Ollerenshaw IT Ltd”), hung up my Siebel gloves and explored the world of full time roles in the great wide world.

It’s been fun, if a little daunting: I’ve worked almost exclusively with Siebel for over 15 years, so immersing myself in other technologies and roles has been difficult. I’ve found that my new roles involve a lot less hands on technology and I now find myself in the fuzzy world of architecture and strategy. It’s no bad thing, and I enjoy the challenge of taking greater responsibility for overall solution designs, working with businesses to understand what’s really important and how I can help them achieve those goals. To me, it’s an important role as it’s always been the case that shiny, snazzy Siebel solutions (including some of the “awesome” capabilities of OpenUI) often exist in the world to satiate the appetites of hungry developers – there’s often little to no business or user benefit in a lot of what happens in technically focused IT.

As part of my current role, I get involved in a lot of talk about strategy and planning for the future. It’s interesting to hear, from the coal face as it were, what’s getting the IT industry excited. I work for a retail organisation, and each vertical has different needs and wants and different solutions appeal, but for us there’s something that currently stands out: Big Data.

bigdata

Of course, we’re very excited here about the prospect of Cloud, including Infrastructure As A Service, Azure and AWS. We’re also excited about Software As A Service, which is now at a level of maturity where we believe we can actually start to map some of our business need onto these types of cloud services. Though not something we’re looking at here, Birst is a great example of SaaS: it’s Cloud BI by two of the guys responsible¬†for OBIEE nee Siebel Analytics.

But Big Data is what it’s all about here. We’re talking Hadoop, MapR – we’re looking at some of the big players and some not so big. We’re also looking at data visualisation platforms – Tableau, PowerBI, Business Objects¬†and many others. With a bit of luck, if the kids allow me the time to do so, I’ll pen some articles on my experiences in this ever growing buzz space.

Until then, wishing everyone in Siebel Land the very best for now and the future!

BIP Revisited

Having started on a new programme of work, I’ve come face to face once again with my dreaded nemesis – Oracle BI Publisher.

Not to worry, I thought – we’re working with Siebel 8.1.1.9, surely all of the niggles have been addressed by now! How wrong I was.

BIPAdmin

Once again, Oracle have really made a shambles of the documentation around installing and configuring BIP for Siebel. I just don’t understand how hard it can be to get this stuff right.

Here are the problems that I found with the new process for 8.1.1.9:

  1. The Reports Guide now no longer contains installation instructions – you are instead pointed to an article on MOS (1501378.1)
  2. The article on MOS has an attachment that is error strewn, is unfinished and even contains internal review comments (for example, part way in you’ll see: user_name is **Q: Siebel administrator user name?)
  3. The MOS article guide points to the ‘Supported Platform’ document for the BIP version – this in turn pointed BACK to MOS for yet another article stating which BIP version to use (1172844.1). Why not just have ALL information in ONE place?
  4. The version of BIP required is NOT the one made available in the Siebel Pack area of eDelivery. You need 10.1.3.4.2, NOT 10.1.3.4.0 which is the version in the Siebel home of eDelivery

The ‘Integrating BI Publisher…’ guide is just hopeless:

  1. The process describing the WSDL import is incorrect and does not list the correct IO objects to delete
  2. The section with command line statements for importing seed data input is insanely wrong – I spent over an hour correcting the command lines and finding the real location of the seed data files
  3. The same section says to use ‘ORCL’ as the database type in the command line, when in fact you need to use ‘ORACLE’
  4. Why provide ‘seed’ data import files and commands and then immediately have manual steps to set up views and responsibilities? Why not include ALL seed data?

It’s just not good enough – Actuate disappeared a long time ago and Oracle have had years to get BIP in it’s place. However, once again the documentation is badly written, full of errors and has clearly not gone through any sort of QA process.

When can we expect a straight forward installation of BIP in Siebel? Not in the near future, it would seem.

ADDENDUM

Here’s the seed data script that I finally came up with for use in Siebel 8.1.1.9 HOR.

Siebel Campaign Management – Segmentation

It’s been a while since I updated the blog and the reasons are many: Christmas was a very busy time and an unexpected change to the Siebel programme that I was working on meant things were a bit up in the air. Needless to say, blog entries regarding WebCenter are not going to be forthcoming but my new engagement is far more interesting!

We’re using Siebel Marketing in conjunction with Oracle Customer Hub, AIA with out of the box PIPs, Oracle Segmentation Manager, Siebel Email Marketing Server – you name it, we’re implementing it!

Segmentation

It’s making for extremely interesting work and, as you might expect, I’ve spent some time building VMs hosting the various components and will be posting here about my experiences.

My latest mini project was to install and configure Oracle Segementation Manager. Fancy name aside, this is basically an OBIA product that delivers the ability to slice and dice customer and sales data, within OBIEE, to produce outbound campaign lists that can be used within Siebel Campaign Management / Siebel Marketing to communicate in some way with customers and prospects. Phew!

Setting up OBIEE with OBIA seemed a lot simpler this time around, possibly because I went with 32-bit Windows 2003 as a host – 2008 64-bit caused too many problems last time around. The basic steps are:

  1. Install Oracle Database 11g
  2. Install OBIEE 11g
  3. Install Informatica
  4. Install DAC
  5. Install OBIA 7.9.6.2
  6. Configure Informatica for OBIEE and import the repository for OBIA and copy reference data files
  7. Import meta data for required OBIA apps into DAC
  8. Import OBIA RPD into Web Logic and repoint presentation catalogue
  9. Tweak Siebel configuration to enable access to segmentation through the UI

Once again, I made full use of the awesome content of Gerard Nicolas’ wiki site. Invaluable when it comes to the necessary tweaks to get all the components working together.

Segmentation and it’s integration into Siebel is pretty funky – I’ll try to cover off some of the functional uses in a future post.

Siebel 8.1.1.7 – More BIP improvements

I noticed, via the new ADF based My Oracle Support portal, that Siebel 8.1.1.7 was released this week.

Downloading the readme, I can see some additional work that has gone into the BI Publisher integration:

  • Bug 13528720: The Duration field is missing from the Report business component.
  • Bug 13570979: Custom Name appears twice in the Report Output applet.
  • Bug 13603930: The My BI Publisher Reports menu label was incorrectly changed.
  • Bug 13528628: Unnecessary fields display in the Template applet.
  • Bug 13604628: The Schedule Report menu item was incorrectly changed

You’ll also find some specific ACRs documented further down the file, one of which strikes me as being of particular interest:

ACR 719B provides the following enhancements:

  • Improved upload functionality for multilingual reports
  • Mobile client synchronization of report templates
  • Ability to schedule parameterized reports
  • Allows the UI applet sort order to be preserved in report output
  • Report business service enhancements
  • Parameterized reporting enhancements

Not very specific I know – I’d like some detail around how the ‘Report business service’ has been ‘enhanced’ – but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Expect a further update once I’ve downloaded and applied.

Siebel 8.1.1.x and BIP – JRE Version

More BIP fun today as I discovered yet another ‘gotcha’ while upgrading to Siebel 8.1.1.5.

I have been getting these errors while trying to upload report definitions:

SBL-EAI-05010: Class name incorrect or does not extend SiebelBusinessService

Okay, all very standard – just a typo in my CLASSPATH parameter for the Java Subsystem, right? Wrong! And here’s why:

Exception:java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError: com/siebel/data/SiebelPropertySet (Unsupported major.minor version 50.0)

A quick MOS search reveals a new article:

JRE version 1.6 required for all Siebel versions from Fix Pack 8.1.1.4 onward [ID 1285062.1]

Now, I saw no mention of this in the Siebel Reports Guide. I’ve always used the JRE that comes installed as part of BIP and most other configurators that I know do the same. Not so with 8.1.1.5! As usual, there is very little detail in the article other than ‘install JRE 6’.

Here is what I did to resolve. Now, I’m not sure all of this is required but I’m so fed up of messing around with BIP that I’ve just gone ahead and done the lot. Feel free to experiment:

  1. Download JRE 6
  2. Install on the Siebel Server – I put the JDK in D:\Java\ and the JRE in the same location
  3. Update your Java Subsystem with the path to the JVM. (For example, if you’ve install Java in D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27)
  4. change param DLL=D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27\jre\bin\client\jvm.dll for named subsystem XMLPJvmSubsys

  5. (For Windows) Set the JAVA_HOME environment variable (For example: D:\Java\jdk1.6.0_27)
  6. (For *NIX) export JAVA_HOME (For example: export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_27/
  7. For good measure, I added JAVA_HOME\bin to my PATH

Rumour is that Siebel 8.1.1.6 is out and about – here’s hoping that some stability will be introduced into the BIP integration, not yet more problems!

Troubleshooting Siebel Reports

Very quick post! I noticed recently that the new Siebel Reports Guide (Revision E) has an extensive ‘Troubleshooting’ section. This contains a large number of common errors and issues along with details for investigating and resolving them.

Well worth a look if you, like many others, are having problems with the Siebel and BI Publisher integration in Siebel 8.1.x.x

You can find the relevant chapter here.

It’s great that Oracle are taking developers concerns seriously and are really making an effort now to tighten up the integration with BI Publisher. I had a chat recently with the Product Manager and he outlined really quite extensive and positive plans for the future. I’m certainly hopeful for 8.2.2 and 8.1.1.7 that the underlying issues will be resolved and we can re-focus our efforts on developing really great Siebel implementations.