Archive for the ‘Oracle’ Category

Running Plumtree Portal on IIS7 and Windows Server 2008

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The latest version of WebCenter Interaction (aka Neo, or 10gR4) officially added support for IIS7 and Windows Server 2008. But WCI 10gR3 – or (gasp!) Aqualogic User Interaction or Plumtree don’t since IIS 7 didn’t exist way back then. We’ve discussed how to get these older revisions working on 64-bit Windows, but many of you don’t have the luxury of upgrading Plumtree or have cancelled your support and maintenance contracts (and, if you haven’t, why not?) .

Still, time marches on, new application servers and operating systems are introduced, and your server team is antsy to get you to upgrade what you can. So, today’s post is about getting older versions of WCI working on IIS7 and Windows Server 2008. It’s – of course – not officially supported, but from my testing with WCI 10gR3 it seems to work OK. Your mileage may vary, and I can’t say I’ve actually supported a production environment running 10gR3 in this configuration yet, so proceed at your own risk.

The problem starts with the portal installer – you’re likely to see something like the following lines in your error logs:

“E:\bea\alui\installlogs\portalappserver_deployment.log”(51,13): [echo] ERROR: Web Site Default Web Site does not exist. Virtual directory cannot be created.
“E:\bea\alui\installlogs\WebCenter_Interaction_InstallLog.log”(38038,51): Additional Notes: FATAL ERROR – ANT post-installation action returned an error. See e:\bea\alui\uninstall\ptportal\10.3.0\register\configmgr_config-setup.log for details.
ANT Post-install Check:
Additional Notes: FATAL ERROR – ANT post-installation action returned an error. See e:\bea\alui\uninstall\ptportal\10.3.0\register\configmgr_config-setup.log for details.
ANT Post-install Check:
Additional Notes: FATAL ERROR – ANT post-installation action returned an error. See e:\bea\alui\uninstall\ptportal\10.3.0\register\configmgr_setup-service.log for details.
E:\bea\alui\uninstall\ptportal\10.3.0\register\register-configuration-manager.xml:191: E:\bea\alui\configmgr\2.0\bin\configmgr.url (The system cannot find the path specified)

Basically, this is telling you that the installer wasn’t able to deploy the web app to IIS7. But, it does copy all of the appropriate files, so they’re ready to be deployed manually. Read on for the steps to get started in getting your old portal working with the latest IIS Application Server… (more…)

WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 (Neo) Now REALLY Available!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Well, after a little bit of a false start, intrepid reader Brad Styve noticed that our binaries for WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 – a.k.a. “Neo” – are finally available as of yesterday. As he points out, there are now “three installers to rule them all”. That is, many of the separate installers you had to work through in the past – Portal, Identity Services (LDAP and AD), Crawlers (UCM, Exchange, Windows Files), Dev Tools (IDK, JSR-168), Sharepoint – have now been bundled into the single 1.5GB installer. Couple that with Collab and Analytics, and you’ve got a pretty good foundation for your upgrade or install process.

Contrary to my previous report, you can still find the installation package in the usual “Oracle BEA” media pack, and the installers sit alongside all the others:

Still painfully missing is Publisher, which technically isn’t supported on the new Windows platforms (Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008). And since Publisher needs to reside in the same database as the portal, well, this stack still isn’t “fully supported” if your IT department is nagging you to get your existing portal stack off Windows Server 2003 or SQL Server 2005. I’m still looking for an official (or unofficial) response from Oracle on this oversight: we know Publisher is end-of-life’d, but are we at least going to get the existing Publisher 6.5 binaries certified on these platforms? Or is the official party line that we HAVE to move to UCM? And if so, where are the migration tools?

Oh, and while we’re “nitpicking” (if you could call such a glaring omission “nitpicking”), Brad mentions that he’s been informed there are over 200 bug fixes. Sooo… why isn’t Oracle providing a list of significant fixes in this release like they have in every past release? I mean, the release notes list 36 “known issues”, but has no “resolved issues” section. Strange, huh?

WebCenter Interaction 10gR4 (Neo) Now Available!

Monday, December 12th, 2011


Today Oracle announced WCI 10gR4 through their blog and tech network. The problem is: the download isn’t available yet, and there’s already some conflicting information out there.

Following the instructions on the download page, you can see that you’re no longer supposed to find the download via the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud using the “Oracle BEA” Media pack, but the “Oracle Application Server 10g Release 3 (10.1.3) Media Pack”.

No 10.3.3 yet:

Aside from the conflicting information about the version being available and not being there, there’s more conflicting info after the break. Stay tuned, though, as I’m sure this’ll all be worked out soon, and we’ll keep you posted on new features and functionality!

Cool Tools 17: WordPress 3

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Blogs and Wikis, Wikis and Blogs.  We’ve been hearing it from Plumtree, then from BEA, and now from Oracle for the Plumtree/ALUI/WCI stack.  Remember PEP (Pages, Ensemble, Pathways), and how it promised wiki and blog functionality?  And how ’bout this semi-official Oracle WCI blog that … well, you be the judge.

It’s true:  Plumtree has a checkered past in delivering us to the promised land of user-generated content in the early noughties – to say nothing of the Enterprise 2.0 (Social Networking) trend of the past couple of years.  The WebCenter Suite promises to start getting us there, and there are unconfirmed rumors of WebCenter Collaboration Server getting this much-needed functionality, but for now user-generated content remains largely a pipe dream for those clients still on the WebCenter Interaction stack.

We all have blogs and wikis, so why haven’t we seen a serious contender for one of these products to work well in the WebCenter Interaction stack?  The answer is maybe that we’re looking for too tight of a coupling from Oracle:  the reality is that if you follow the Four Tenets of Portal Integration, you can provide a pretty compelling and integrated experience for your users, which is exactly what we’re doing with this blog and demonstration site:  notice how the URLs of this site change as you click through the tabs at the top?  That’s because some pages come from WebCenter Interaction, and some from WordPress – but the user (that’s you!) is none the wiser.  Administrators (that’s me!) love it:  in addition to the insanely easy setup and configuration and the vast library of third party plugins that can do pretty much anything and everything you might need, there’s also an almost comically easy upgrade process:

That’s right, WordPress knows when it’s out of date, and prompts you to update. Seven seconds after clicking “upgrade Automatically”, we’re all done:


Try upgrading WCI in 7 seconds!

Oh, and while this blog isn’t demonstrating integrated search or authentication, we’ve got that too

Got an old version of ALUI, but no license keys?

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

This is (very) old news, but I saw the question come up recently so I figured I’d share again.

If you’re currently running an old version of BEA AquaLogic User Interaction (ALUI 6.1 or 6.5), and are moving servers, setting up a dev environment, or otherwise find yourself with License Keys that longer working due to IP address restrictions, Oracle has been kind enough to publish unlimited licenses keys for the entire ALUI stack.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the product is now free – you’re still required to pay for licensing and maintenance if you want to upgrade – but if you’re compliant with the licensing you’ve got, this is the easy way to get things working again.

New Collaboration Server IE8 Critical Fix – No Source for you!

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Last month, we wrote to tell you about the WebCenter Interaction Collaboration Server IE8 Critical Fix.  Last week, an old Plumtree pal dropped me a line to let me know that this patch has been updated (Thanks, Eno!).  No new version information – it’s actually the exact same patch number and everything – although some of the code has changed a bit. As far as I can tell in analyzing the different packages, there are just a couple of tiny tweaks, and the release notes include a more comprehensive set of bug fixes, so you’ll just have to download the patch again to get the new binaries.

  • WebEdit does not work on IE8. (9723488)
  • Error in task submenu in IE8 (9712774)
  • Cannot upload multiple files in Collab (9274372)
  • Bulk upload JRE updated to 1.6 in order to support IE8 (8760280)
  • Notifications should be sent from a fixed address for creation and deletion (9647426) This fix involves updates to both collab and notification components.
  • Subscription to project overview causes conflicts with Immedate Subscriptions (8759642)
  • Non gatewayed webedit does not work (9434805)
  • File leak in Search Service during search index rebuild (11726008)
  • Webcenter Collaboration notifications to large numbers of recipients fail (9484113)

Oh, and while I never got around to writing a post about this, for those of you that are into this kind of stuff, this update includes a new cns.war file – and someone in engineering has removed the .jars containing some of the CNS source code.  So if you want to take a peek, check out the code in your cns.war before updating.

Guess you’ll have to find some other way to meet your code analysis needs

Oracle WebCenter Interaction LIVES! (kind of)

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Sorry if the title got your hopes up, folks: “living” is not the same thing as “growing and thriving”.

We all know Oracle’s stated direction on WebCenter Interaction, a.k.a Plumtree, a.k.a. ALUI, a.k.a WCI: While it’s had some promising adoption news within Oracle, it’s pretty clear “the ‘tree” is on its way out in favor of the WebCenter Suite.

If you need any further evidence that WCI is not long for this world, take a look at the just-released webinar that Oracle gave this week: Oracle WebCenter Suite – Giving Users a Modern Experience.

Now for the good news (and the crux of this post’s title): We are not a forgotten user community:

… and, as Oracle stated in that webinar, the long-promised Oracle 10.3.3 patch release is coming soon.  No formal release date, but it seems we aren’t going to be left completely in the cold; this patch release focuses mostly on integrating with the rest of the Oracle stack to make the transition less painful – if you choose to continue drinking the Oracle Kool-Aid.

Any way you cut it, this transition isn’t going to be easy, and is likely going to feel like “starting over”.  I mean, how many times did we hear Oracle emphasize how long it would take their own services group to make the transition in that webinar?  A LOT – I counted them (no, I didn’t): there were at least eleventy-two.

Bug Blog 9: WebCenter Analytics Timeouts

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In our last post, we touched on the unusual nature of BEA’s acquisition of Plumtree, and how BEA largely kept the portal product lines separate with ALUI and WLP.  But that’s not a completely fair assertion: BEA did have a longer-term goal, integrating the two portal “front-ends” through various back-end tricks (such as Ensemble and WSRP).  Similarly, while you may have read that post as a somewhat bleak assessment that my opinion is WCI is dying a slow, painful death, in reality Oracle has stated plans to provide integration services between the products through similar means.  So you could use a WCI front-end with integration through Ensemble and WSRP to other WebCenter Services such as Blogs and Wikis.

The reality, though, is that these types integrations take time – and sometimes, lots of it.  As evidence of this, look no further than Aqualogic Analytics.  When BEA acquired Plumtree, one of the gaping holes in WLP was Analytics, or usage reporting of the product.  Plumtree Analytics was becoming a solid product, but it was very tightly integrated into the Plumtree portal.  So the decision was made to try and abstract some of the major pieces out, with the thinking that these abstractions could be useful elsewhere.  For example, the ill-fated Security Services (once used by the also ill-fated PEP line and now just built into Analytics) and the existing Directory Services came of this integration attempt.  The idea was that by abstracting out security and user management:

  1. These services would be available to other applications that were developed down the line
  2. Analytics would be more compatible with WebLogic Portal, which also had an LDAP repository to access user and group information

While I think that if more time had been available for the integration to become more seamless, the problem is that no one won in this attempt because it was aborted too early.  I have no idea whether WLP still supports Analytics integration, the old Security Services are now just built into the product as a phenomenally complicated set of DB tables that make little sense, and Directory Services are a dramatically inefficient way to access user and group information.

Case in point – I’ve had a couple of clients report Analytics timeouts for some users, but other users were seeing the proper report:

How does this relate to the whole Plumtree/BEA/Oracle integration saga? The old Plumtree Analytics application used a SQL query called something like QUERY_USER_FLATTENED_GROUPS.  Basically, this was a Plumtree Portal-specific SQL query that, given a user ID, would spit out all nested groups that that user was a member of.  So if a user was a member group A, and Group A was a member of Group B, the query would return both Group A and B.

The ALUI version of Analytics, though, utilized Directory Services so that group membership didn’t need to come from PT-specific SQL queries.  It could come from generic LDAP queries.  The problem is, LDAP doesn’t have a mechanism like QUERY_USER_FLATTENED_GROUPS, so for any given user, Analytics needs to query LDAP for the groups a user is in.  And then, Analytics needs to check to see which groups THOSE groups are a member of.  And so on, and so on.  You’d be surprised – through inheritance, you may be a member of thousands of groups, and rather than a single SQL query, you’re now dealing with tens of thousands of LDAP calls.

Bottom line:  Integrations and product convergence can work, but they’re phenomenally complicated, because every piece of abstraction added can cause unanticipated side effects.  Which is probably why Oracle is taking this whole process pretty slowly.

Full Bug Report after the break for your convenience. (more…)

WebCenter Spaces, Weblogic, ALUI, Plumtree, Oh My!

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

When BEA acquired Plumtree and repositioned everything under the Aqualogic User Interaction brand, they made a decision that few of us consultants thought was incredibly logical: they kept the Plumtree product line separate from the BEA product line.  We commonly heard stories where a “BEA Classic” salesperson and “Plumtree” salesperson were calling the same customer prospect, one touting the virtues of the Weblogic Portal and the other touting the Plumtree Portal.  Of course, this was odd since at that point we all worked for the same company, and in my opinion, they never were really even the same product: WebLogic Portal was a set of APIs for developing a portal; Plumtree Portal was an out-of-the-box product that you largely configured rather than programmed.  So if you were a Java shop and/or had developers who could code and compile web apps, you should be using WLP.  If you were a .NET shop and/or didn’t have a development team, ALUI was the way to go.

Since Oracle now owns these product stacks, there are three “portal” offerings – and, if you buy the Oracle WebCenter Suite, you own them all:

  1. Weblogic Portal.  Built as a set of APIs that allowed developers to create portal applications in Eclipse on top of WebLogic Server, this was a powerful set of libraries that provided a great environment for Java shops to code their web interfaces to back-end applications.
  2. AquaLogic User Interaction (aka WebCenter Interaction).  Built as an out-of-the-box portal, the Plumtree application was designed to be open and flexible, but more for mixed (.NET/Java, Oracle/SQL Server) shops to configure the web interfaces to their applications.
  3. WebCenter Spaces.  This is basically Oracle’s “portal”, which provides a web-based UI to access various social networking and personal productivity (read: Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking) features provided by WebCenter Services.

I can’t profess to know the exact plans that Oracle has here, but it seems pretty clear to most outside observers (and most insiders I’ve spoken to): WebLogic Portal and WebCenter Interaction will continue to be supported for years to come, but Oracle is throwing its weight behind WebCenter Spaces.  This has a couple of implications for legacy Plumtree customers:

  1. Oracle is going down the path that the Weblogic Portal took – while a lot of the functionality you need (such as Collaborative and Social tools) will be available out of the box through WebCenter Services, you will be doing most of your customizations with Java in jDeveloper.
  2. If you’re a .NET shop, you need to brace yourself for a huge learning curve, or consider looking at other platforms, such as SharePoint, or a hybrid solution using tools like Confluence, WordPress, and some glue that holds the pieces together.
  3. There still is no formal migration plan for getting from WCI to Spaces.  Although Oracle has promised it for some time, a migration will not be a one-click process, so when you’re evaluating what to do “after WCI” – whether you’re Java or .NET – consider ALL available options, as a migration from WCI to Spaces could be as complicated as just “starting over”.
  4. Each of the individual products in the stack has its own migration path.  For example, WCI configurations will need to be migrated to WebCenter Spaces, Publisher content will need to be migrated to Oracle Universal Content Manager (UCM), and Collaboration and Studio will need to be migrated to their equivalent WebCenter Services.

Regardless of what path you choose, at this point it’s pretty clear:  you need to start thinking about a long-term strategy in a post-Plumtree world.  As a vendor-agnostic consulting firm, Integryst can help you choose your way – or help implement whatever technology you’ve ultimately chosen.

Oracle Support Master Notes and Webinars

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

I’ve been critical of Oracle Support in the past, but recently had a great experience with some of the old Plumtree support buddies that are still around – specifically, Merrick Huang in Oracle Support was able to provide a tremendous amount of assistance on a very thorny search issue I was having at a client site and will be writing about here in upcoming posts.  Before we get into the nitty gritty of that problem, I want to share with you a great resource I didn’t know existed until now: Oracle Support Master Notes and Webinars (login required).

The purpose of “Master Notes” is to “provide the most important links that users will need to install and support the product”, and there are some pretty decent pages in there if you know where to look.  For example, the IDK Master Note is a collection of a bunch of documentation, KB articles, known issues, and bug fixes all in one place.

But what I really wanted to highlight here is the Webinars provided by Oracle Support – with one in particular being the best Oracle Webinar I’ve seen: the Search Webinar, by Eno Gjerasi.  Eno shows that there’s still life left from the Plumtree support group, and demonstrates a level of knowledge of the Search Server that rivals most engineers or consultants.  There was one tip in particular that I’ll focus on in upcoming posts (about how to communicate directly with Search), but I encourage you to check out all three Webinars (Search, Portal / SSO, and Analytics) and the other Master Notes – you may just find a gem in there and wonder how you made it all these years without knowing “that one thing” you never knew you needed.

Keep up the good work, Oracle support!