Simon Haslam's Oracle Fusion Middleware blog

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OPSS Keystore Service - centralised key management

This is a topic I've been meaning to write about for a while: FMW Infrastructure 12.1.2 introduced a rather nice OPSS Keystore Service (KSS) which is now used by default in SOA Suite 12.1.3 (and other 12c products soon no doubt).

As most readers will know WebLogic, and therefore the layered products that sit on top of it like SOA or WebCenter, uses Java Keystore files (.jks) to store server identity certificates and trust certificates/key-chains (before JKS people used flat files).

If you're building clusters you want to centralise configuration where possible to keep things simple - that's why it's nice to put things like the server memory parameters in the domain configuration. Unfortunately you still had to distribute (and later update) JKS files to each host... until KSS arrived.

What the Keystore Service does is to provide keystores to WebLogic server instances - at run-time from from a central place (the OPSS schema in the Fusion Middleware infrastructure repository).

Managing the Keystores 

You can manually manage the keystores using EM Fusion Middleware Control, via the Security menu on the domain. By default you will have demo trust and demo identity keystores, for example created by the Configuration Wizard, but you can create your own and delete the demo ones. See the documentation at:

Keystore management screen in EM FMWC

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Upgrading to SOA 12c and details of the next UKOUG Middleware SIG

SOA 12c is the most important release of Oracle's flagship integration product set that we've seen for 5 years (when 11g was launched). Oracle has also now produced the first SOA 12c bundle patch-set ( so in my opinion any new SOA installations should definitely be using 12c, and existing 11g users should be seriously considering upgrading to take advantage of the many new features.

SOA Suite 12c

For administrators what is particularly nice about this release is that a lot of work has clearly been put into the upgrade process, building on some of the changes introduced in WebLogic 12.1.2. The upgrade is actually surprisingly straightforward...

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What you need to know about the new ODA X5-2

Today, as part of the "Next Generation of Oracle Engineered Systems" webcast,  Larry Ellison launched the new X5 systems. This bullishly-titled post attempts to summarise what's new specifically with the ODA X5-2, and what's most important, especially for those using ODA Virtualized Platform (ODA VP) to build entire Oracle infrastructures as an appliance.

We've known since last September when Intel released the Haswell-EP processors (the E5-2600 v3 models) that there would likely be refreshes to many of Oracle's engineered systems. However for this year's ODA refresh there have been far more changes than the previous one (which was just the processor update and fibre option). 

Oracle Database Appliance X5-2 

Summary of Changes 

Here are the most significant changes in the ODA X5-2, as compared to the previous X4-2 generation, biased towards my perspective of running Fusion Middleware products, and associated databases, on ODA VP for O-box:

  • Extra SSD on shared storage ("ODA Flash Accelerator") to hold some database data ("ODA Flash Cache") and ACFS metadata ("ODA Flash Files")
  • 40Gb/s InfiniBand for interconnect between server nodes
  • DDR4 memory with the option to upgrade to 768GB per node, so 1.5TB total
  • SAS3, which runs at 12 Gb/s - I assume/hope this is for connections to server disks, internally within the array(s) and between the arrays and servers
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White-box Server Build 2014 - Part 1

Happy New Year readers! This post is about building a new "white-box" server to run VMware ESXi, using one of the latest Intel Core i7 "enthusiast" processors and components sourced in the last quarter of 2014 (hence the title). Rather than buying a server from a single vendor, such as HP or Oracle, white-box servers are those you build yourself, typically to get something tailored to your needs and at a much lower price.

 ASRock X99 Extreme4 motherboard 

Selecting compatible components is the most challenging part of building a white-box server especially if, like me, you don't do it very often since PC parts change very quickly. Component specifications depend very much on your requirements (e.g. games machine, HT PC, home lab server, NAS etc) so before I go further I'll describe mine.

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Nordic ACE Tour 2014

Last week I was a speaker on the OTN sponsored Nordic ACE Director Tour 2014. It's well over a year now since I was kindly invited to take part but, as an "ACE Tour virgin," I wasn't really sure what to expect, so hopefully this non-technical article will help others in a similar position. Heli Helskyaho, a fellow speaker, has pipped me to the post so you can read about her experiences too.

The tour consisted of 4 one-day events in 4 countries on consecutive days - given my distance from London Heathrow this meant I was away from home for 6 days. I had offered 5 abstracts, most of which I'd actually presented elsewhere, but I also included the new EDG presentation that my good friend Jacco Landlust and I have submitted for a few conferences this autumn/winter. Each speaker delivered 2 presentations per day and the 4 user groups chose the sessions they wanted - for me that meant 4 out of my 5, for others it was the same 2 presentations given 4 times. What surprised me was that the event in each country had a different feel.

We started in Sweden in a Japanese-style health spa, in the countryside about an hour's drive away from the airport. This was a very peaceful setting for meetings though all guests were provided with kimonos and seemed to wear them around the hotel. Being almost the only one in the restaurant without one on Sunday evening I hopefully redeemed myself by spending the whole of the following day in one (over my normal clothes I hasten to add!)...

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Fusion Middleware Summer Camps - Lisbon 2014

Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c Summer Camps - Lisbon 2014

I've just returned home from a very busy week at the Oracle Fusion Middleware Partner summer camps in Lisbon so, since this was my first one, I thought I'd write a short summary of what the training was like.

The event was attended by over 100 delegates and had 4 parallel streams to choose from:

  • SOA 12c
  • BPM 12c
  • Fast Track SOA & BPM 12c
  • Mobile Hackathon

I attended the fast track combined course, which had been designed for experienced/11g specialized practitioners and was led by Niall Commiskey. It covered the changes in 12c for SOA (3 days), BPM/ACM (2 days) and included a section on upgrading from 11g.

Readers who work for Oracle middleware partners are likely to have come across Niall before - e.g. on previous courses, or perhaps watching his SOA 12c webcast ahead of its launch this summer. Niall is an Irishman living in Germany and his style is, let's say, "unique" amongst Oracle trainers. He has a very direct manner and will tell you exactly what he thinks of various product features, usually based on engagements with partners and customers. Niall will also often ask for delegates' opinions on features after he has explained them - the most acceptable answer is usually "das ist sehr gut"!

Fast Track SOA & BPM 12c - training room

I won't describe the detail of the course/labs other than to highlight one useful tip for Windows users that I didn't know about...[Read More]

Oracle SOA Suite 12c Released - Administration Highlights

Today Oracle has released SOA/BPM Suite 12c - see the official Press Release. This is quite a big event: it may be hard to believe but SOA 11g was released well over 4 years ago now and, though in reality Oracle has delivered significant amounts of functionality in "Patch Sets"*, this release has still been a while in the making.

Over the coming weeks you will no doubt hear about the drivers for SOA 12c in numerous places, but apparently they are:

  • Developer Productivity (OSB in JDev, templating, enhanced debugging & flow tracing)
  • Mobile & Cloud (REST/JSON support, Cloud integration)
  • "Industrial SOA" (see below)
What's New in SOA Suite 12c

If you're a production SOA infrastructure designer or administrator I suspect it is the last of these drivers that will be of most interest to you. In this post I'll focus on new features which I have either been playing with, or that have caught my eye, though I expect I will have missed a few!

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UKOUG Middleware SIG - All About Patching

I don't usually write about UKOUG Middleware Special Interest Groups (SIG) meetings - they're much more about face-to-face discussions - but in this case I thought I'd write up some notes mostly of things from the flip-chart for the benefit of those who attended (and anyone else interested).

Firstly, the Middleware SIG target audience is mostly production Fusion Middleware administrators and infrastructure designers/architects. Yesterday we had a turnout of 30 or so, which I thought was quite respectable considering that the agenda was a little late (my fault - a shortage of spare time 12 weeks ago).

Our theme was patching and upgrades: we started with sessions in the morning about patching vs upgrades, patching methods, where to find help and some worked examples. After lunch we had presentations from Oracle about what's coming up in Fusion Middleware and some of the upgrade approaches.

I'm very grateful as ever to our excellent and knowledgeable speakers, and in particular have a special thanks to Phil Wilkins from Specsavers for his first presentation at a SIG.

Oracle City Office, 1 South Place, London
Oracle City Office (London)

During the group discussion we did some polls to see what Fusion Middleware products people were using in production.

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Environment Variable Tip when using OHS 12.1.2

Here's a silly little issue I hit this afternoon - mostly a case of "administrator error" but a time waster nevertheless.

To recap, there was a big change to Web Tier administration in 12.1.2 in that OHS is controlled with what's now called the "WebLogic Management Framework" - in short this means OHS instance configuration is handled via WLST and lifecycle (start/stop etc) by Node Manager (i.e. OPMN has gone). You have a choice of either co-locating OHS in your existing WebLogic domain (diagrams from the Oracle Documentation):

OHS in co-located WebLogic configuration

Otherwise you can have OHS on its own:

OHS in standalone configuration

I have a customer shortly going live with Oracle HTTP Server / WebLogic Server 12.1.2. In this case OHS is in the DMZ and we have it in a standalone domain, with the main WebLogic domain/cluster in another zone.

Anyway, I was looking into a different issue and happened to have both WLS and OHS installed in one of my test VMs. After starting the standalone NodeManager, I was having trouble starting OHS...[Read More]

The Fantastic New WebLogic on Oracle Database Appliance 2.9 Release is Here!

Last week was a big day in virtualised ODA-land as it saw the launch of WebLogic on ODA 2.9. Admittedly it doesn't sound like a very exciting release but it is one that we at O-box have been looking forward to for quite some time. Let me explain why, then we'll look into the details...

The ODA X4-2 has 48 Intel Xeon cores. That is a lot of compute power. Whilst the largest O-box SOA Appliance single environment configuration can in theory use all those cores (currently with 40 vCPU of SOA!) the vast majority of O-box users will want smaller configurations. Prior to 2.9 the Oracle WebLogic implementation only supported one domain per ODA, so the conundrum O-box development faced last year was either: offer customers only one SOA environment on their O-box for now (but have the benefit of a standard, easily supportable WebLogic installation), or build our own WebLogic/OTD OVM templates from scratch.

One of our driving goals with O-box is to give the best possible experience and make the appliance as supportable as possible. Therefore we took the gamble that we would stick with the Oracle's one-domain WebLogic configuration initially, and just hope that it would deliver multi-domain support for us in a timely manner (note: this is probably not a strategy that business textbooks would recommend!).

Anyway, we've been working closely with Oracle Product Management for a few months now and I'm delighted to see 2.9 as the fruits of their labour. This also neatly ties in with several recent requests for O-box to include OSB as well as SOA/BPEL (which we have always wanted to have in separate domains). The diagram below is the neatest way to summarise what the new 2.9 release will allow us to deliver, i.e. previously only one 3D box was possible:

O-box SOA Appliance running multiple environments

The second important feature for O-box is now being able to run the ODA WebLogic Configuration Utility (or "configurator" if you are the other side of the Atlantic!) in silent mode. Some of you will have heard me talk about my vision for O-box which is to provision 100% silently, based on our "2 stick install" approach. Technically this is feasible but one of the stumbling blocks has been us not being able to run the configurator java UI silently from the O-box Manager. I'm pleased to say there's now a --silent option and that it works exactly as advertised!

Finally, there was a little unexpected treat in 2.9 which I'll come on to later. So let's dig a little deeper...

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About me
Oracle ACE Director (Middleware and SOA)
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I'm speaking at Oracle OpenWorld

UKOUG Ambassador Partner
Oracle WebLogic Server 12c Certified Specialist
Oracle WebLogic Server 12c Certified Specialist