Hackathon Provides Opportunity for Collaboration and Innovation

Fishbowl team members competed in our third annual Hackathon over the weekend. Our consultants split up into four groups to create an innovative solution, and were given just over 24 hours to complete the task. The goal was to create usable software that could be used in the future when working with clients; some of our most creative products and services originally derived from Hackathon events.

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Here’s a summary of what the teams came up with this year:

Team 1: Integrated Fishbowl’s Control Center with Oracle WebCenter Portal

Team 2: Integrated the Google Search Appliance with Oracle’s Document Cloud Service

Team 3: Worked to connect WebCenter Portal with Oracle’s new Document Cloud Service

Team 4: Got Fishbowl’s ControlCenter to run in the cloud with Google Compute Engine

At the end of the Hackathon, all participants voted on the best solution. The winning team was #2 (GSA-Doc Cloud Service integration), made up of Kim Negaard, Andy Weaver, and Mike Hill. Although there could only be one winner, overall consensus was that each team came up with something extremely useful that could help solve common problems we’ve run into while working with WebCenter and the GSA. If you’re interested in learning more about any of the team’s programs, feel free to contact us at info@fishbowlsolutions.com.

Migrating Existing PeopleSoft Attachments into the Managed Attachments Solution

This post comes from Fishbowl’s Mark Heupel. Mark is an Oracle Webcenter consultant, and he has worked on a few different projects over the last year helping customers integrate WebCenter with Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft. One of WebCenter’s strengths is it provides these integrations out-of-the-box, including a document imaging integration to automate invoice processing with WebCenter’s capture, forms recognition and imaging capabilities, as well as workflows leveraging Oracle Business Process Management. Mark discusses WebCenter’s integration with PeopleSoft and its managed attachments solution below.

Application Integration

Oracle’s Managed Attachments solution enables business users in PeopleSoft to attach, scan, and retrieve document attachments stored in an Oracle WebCenter Content Server repository.

One of the issues that our clients face when moving to Oracle’s Managed Attachments solution is determining what to do with the attachments that already exist in PeopleSoft. We at Fishbowl have come up with a method to migrate these attachments into WebCenter Content in bulk while still maintaining the attachments’ context within PeopleSoft.

A high-level view of the solution is as follows. Queries are written on the PeopleSoft side to export each of the attachments, as well as a file containing each attachment’s metadata and PeopleSoft contextual information, to a network share. This is a task done by a PeopleSoft administrator. We then use our Enterprise Batchloader product to bulk load these files into WebCenter Content. We’ve written a customization that overrides the set of services that qualify for Managed Attachments to include our Enterprise Batchloader service. Since the context of the attachments is included in the metadata file, the Enterprise Batchloader check-ins work in the same way that a normal check-in from Managed Attachments would and the attachments retain their PeopleSoft context. Let’s get into the details of how this works.

Managed Attachments Overview

In order to understand the migration strategy, we first need to understand how Managed Attachments works under the covers. The important piece to know for this migration is that the table that stores the Managed Attachment object information on the WebCenter side is the AFObjects table. This table stores the PeopleSoft context information as well as the dDocName of each of the attachments currently being stored in WebCenter. Here is an example of what the AFObjects table looks like:

AFObjects Table

Each row in this table represents one PeopleSoft attachment being managed in WebCenter Content. The dAFApplication, dAFBusinessObjectType, and dAFBusinessObject fields make up the context for where the attachment is located in PeopleSoft. The dAFApplication field represents the application, the dAFObjectType field represents the page, and the dAFBusinessObject field is a pipe delimited list of the primary key values from the page where the attachment is located in PeopleSoft. The dDocName field is simply the dDocName of the content item in WebCenter.

When a user clicks the Managed Attachments link on the PeopleSoft screen a request is made over to WebCenter that contains the contextual page information from PeopleSoft (dAFApplication, dAFBusinessObjectType, and dAFBusinessObject). Using this contextual information, a query is then made against the AFObjects table to find the content IDs of the attachments that should be returned back to the user. A similar request is made when a user checks in a document through the Managed Attachments screen in PeopleSoft. The PeopleSoft context information is sent to WebCenter, the document is checked in, and then a row is inserted into the AFObjects table that contains the PeopleSoft contextual information as well as the dDocName of the newly checked-in document.

Loading Content into WebCenter

In order to be able to successfully load a large number of content items into WebCenter, while still maintaining the correct PeopleSoft context, we had to write a customization to hook into the existing Managed Attachments check-in functionality. The AppAdapterCore component, one of the two components installed on WebCenter for Managed Attachments, contains the core Managed Attachments code. This component contains a list of services such as CHECKIN_NEW that, when called with the PeopleSoft contextual information in the binder (dAFApplication, dAFObjectType, and dAFObject), executes the query that inserts a row into the AFObjects table. The customization that we wrote overrides the list of services specified in the AppAdapterCore component to include our Enterprise Batchloader check-in services. By doing so, we’re able to hook into the same insert query that Managed Attachments already uses, assuming we have placed the correct PeopleSoft context information in the binder.

Here is an example of what a standard Enterprise Batchloader blf (batch load file) would look like:

Batch Load File
As you can see, the file simply contains the action to take (insert), the location of the primary file, and the required metadata fields for WebCenter. In order to assign the correct PeopleSoft context we simply need to specify the dAFApplication, dAFObjectType, and dAFObject fields in the blf file:

Batch Load File 2

This effectively places each of those fields into the binder in WebCenter. When Enterprise Batchloader is run and performs its check-ins into WebCenter, the Managed Attachments functionality gets called and a row is inserted into the AFObjects table for each attachment that specifies the PeopleSoft context information. As long as the correct PeopleSoft contextual information is placed into the Enterprise Batchloader blf file, we’re able to bulk load as many attachments as needed into WebCenter while still retaining the correct PeopleSoft context information for use with the Managed Attachments solution.

I hope this provides you with an example of how your existing PeopleSoft Managed Attachments content could be migrated to WebCenter. After all, getting this content into WebCenter has many additional benefits, such as version control, renditions, retention management and the ability to surface this content to WebCenter-based mobile apps and portals. If you have questions or would like to engage with Fishbowl on such projects, please email info@fishbowlsolutions.com.


Collaborate 2014 – 79 days until 79 degrees and Poolside WebCenter Discussions!

79 days.
Collaborate 2014.
79° F (average temp. in Vegas during April)

Fishbowl Solutions has another full list of activities planned for Collaborate 14. We look forward to discussing your Oracle WebCenter Content and Portal initiatives with you – hopefully poolside while we enjoy the warm weather together. It is a balmy 3° F in Minneapolis right now…

Here is a sneak peek of Fishbowl’s activities for Collaborate 2014:

Booth: 1453
Demos of our WebCenter Portal Solution Accelerator, SharePoint Connector 3.0, Google Search Connector for WebCenter and many more.

Presentations: 5

Here are the titles and abstracts of the sessions that Fishbowl is presenting or co-presenting on.

  • A Successful WebCenter Upgrade: What You Need to Know
    If your organization has not upgraded its WebCenter Content, Portal, or Imaging environment from pre-11g to 11g, then this 5-hour session is for you. Join WebCenter Content and Portal Specialized partner, Fishbowl Solutions, as they share facts and use cases that you will be able to apply to your WebCenter 11g upgrade. Fishbowl Solutions will be joined by customers who have successfully upgraded to 11g and therefore will be able to share their learnings, tips, and best practices that you will be able to utilize as well. This session will include a fact sharing discussion on upgrades, use case stories from WebCenter customers, and a roundtable forum where attendees will be able to ask questions specific to their Content, Portal, or Imaging upgrade. If your are planning your WebCenter upgrade and it seems daunting, or you aren’t sure where to begin; come to this session to collect first-hand and actionable information to get your upgrade project started and successfully completed.
  • Delivering on the Oracle WebCenter Portal Composite Application Vision – Top 5 Lessons Learned
    Most organizations see the benefit of creating composite web applications that aggregate services from disparate corporate and 3rd-party systems into a cohesive capability that efficiently supports business processes, driving self-service interactions for employees, customers and suppliers. The challenge is how to deliver on this vision, where to start, and how to plan and execute against your roadmap. Join us in this session as we discuss the Top 5 Lessons Learned at Rolls Royce in deploying WebCenter Portal, and how we were able to bridge content from multiple sources and surface that content to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context, to support our global customer portal.
  • Taking the WebCenter Portal User Experience to the Next Level
    Most organizations see the benefit of creating composite web applications that aggregate services from disparate corporate and 3rd-party systems into a cohesive capability that efficiently supports business processes, driving self-service interactions for employees, customers and suppliers. The challenge is how to deliver on this vision, where to start, and how to plan and execute against your roadmap. Join us in this session as we discuss the Top 5 Lessons Learned at Rolls Royce in deploying WebCenter Portal, and how we were able to bridge content from multiple sources and surface that content to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context, to support our global customer portal.
  • Leveraging BPM workflows for Accounts Payable Processing
    Accounts Payable departments are looking to create a more streamlined and paper-less business process. By achieving this an AP department, along with HR and many other departments are seeing huge ROI when converting from paper to digital management, but one key piece of this is the approval workflow of these documents. Oracle Business Process Management along side of Oracle WebCenter Imaging helps trigger an approval workflow to many different approvers to be acted upon. This session will describe how BPM workflows can be used for Accounts Payable processing and how they can be implemented with popular ERP applications like PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite.
  • Understanding Your Options for Searching Oracle WebCenter
    Search is a critical part of any effective content management solution. Without it, documents, web pages, policies, and other enterprise resources cannot be easily surfaced to end users. This session will explore the search technologies available to Oracle WebCenter customers including metadata-only search, Oracle Text Search, and Secure Enterprise Search, as well as the search functionality available with the Google Search Appliance. Attendees will get a side-by-side comparison of these search options covering the pros and cons of each technology and the use cases most suited to their capabilities. Whether you’re using WebCenter to power your website, intranet, or document management system, join this session to learn the differences between your search options and determine which one is best for you.

More information regarding the sessions above, as well as all of the scheduled sessions for Oracle WebCenter, can be found here: http://collaborate14.ioug.org/schedule

Did I mention it is 3° in Minneapolis right now with a high of 10° expected?! April, and Collaborate, can’t come soon enough.

The pool deck at the Venetian



The How and Why of Integrating SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter in 13 Minutes

Integrating Microsoft SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content is more of a question of why than how. Integrations between the systems have existed for 6+ years now, and each of those have had their own set of integration points and technologies to make the integration work. However, companies need to first understand and agree why they want to integrate the two systems. This starts with identifying the need or business problem that continues to persist without an integration.

Fishbowl Solutions has had an integration for the systems for three years. In that time, we have talked to hundreds of customers regarding their needs and business problems and the disconnect between SharePoint content and getting that content into Oracle WebCenter. Here are the most common needs/business problems we have heard:

  • Lack of Governance over SharePoint use and what happens to orphaned sites and content
  • Difficulty surfacing high-value content created in SharePoint to Oracle-based websites, portals and business applications
  • Inability to selectively determine the SharePoint content items to store in WebCenter – based on version, site location, or business unit requirements

If your company has identified any of the problems above, then it has effectively answered the why question. However, companies should also take a look at their overall information governance strategy and how SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter are a part of that strategy. For organizations that have answered the why, but also have determined that Oracle WebCenter Content is THE repository for enterprise, mission-critical information,  then the how questions can be asked and answered as well.

This 13 minute overview presentation and demo addresses both questions and may be a good place to start in helping you and your organization define its information governance strategy:

For your convenience, here are the time slots for the use case demos of Fishbowl’s connector:

  • Content Publishing – 3:16 to 5:45
  • Project Lifecycle Governance – 5:46 to 7:58
  • Business Specific Storage Requirements – 7:59 to 10:45

Happy Holidays!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.

SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter: Use Cases for an Integrated Content Management System

I had the privilege to present with John Klinke of Oracle WebCenter Product Management during a recent webinar. John and I discussed the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide for SharePoint, and instead of focusing on the feature/function of the integrations (connectors), we chose to detail the use cases that each of the integrations satisfy. It was important to each of us – not to mention our respective companies – that we took this approach as customers were asking what the differences were between the connectors. Before I summarize the use cases for the integrations, let me start with the underlying technical differences.

SharePoint Storage Options

With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft still provides the ability to store content outside the SQL Server database. This is facilitated through remote blob storage or RBS, which effectively enables BLOBS (binary large objects) to be stored within 3rd-party storage systems. Storing BLOBS outside of SQL Server was useful in SharePoint 2007 and 2010, as the BLOBS ( Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) were causing overall SQL performance issues because queries to the database had to go through many BLOBs to return data requests. However, SharePoint 2013 features shredded storage, which basically saves versions of documents in small chunks that get reassembled when users access them. For example, a simple text edit to a Word document, say a change to the document’s footer, would result in only the incremental change being saved to the database and not the entire document. You don’t need to be a database expert to understand the positive performance impacts this would have.

Anyway, using RBS still has its advantages, and the obvious one is for those customers that are looking to integrate SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content. RBS provides a proven integration method to move SharePoint content and associated metadata to WebCenter Content for access, consumption and delivery to other Oracle-based systems. However, RBS is is basically an all or nothing approach. That is, wherever a RBS provider has been enabled, at the site collection, site or library level, ALL document versions in that location will be stored remotely. The only way to limit what gets stored is by file size or type. So, for organizations that do wish to store the majority of SharePoint content remotely, or in this case within Oracle WebCenter Content, RBS is the way to go and this is the integration method that Oracle provides as of the WebCenter Content release.

Customers looking for a more selective approach to store SharePoint content items will want to consider Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector integration for WebCenter. Fishbowl’s integration does not utilize RBS, and instead SharePoint event receivers are leveraged to determine document storage. This integration approach provides more granular control over content storage, while also giving SharePoint users specific control over the content items they want to store in WebCenter. The tradeoff with this more granular, user-controlled option is that duplicate items get stored between the systems.

With the technical details of each integration out of the way, let’s now talk use cases.

Use Cases for Fishbowl’s SharePoint Integration

  • Content Publishing
    The business scenario I discussed during the webinar was that of a SharePoint user on a marketing team working on a new product launch. During the lead up to the actual launch date, the user and their colleagues have created many assets to support the launch, including a brochure, new copy for the website, a launch plan, graphics and other images, and a press release. Most of these assets have multiple versions, and the user only wants to store or publish final versions of each so that they get surfaced to the company’s website.

Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content features the ability to only store major versions of content in WebCenter. This allows users with specific knowledge of the content to publish the ability to do so, while also ensuring that only the final version of content gets stored before it can be seen internally or externally.

  • Project Lifecycle Governance
    This use case satisfies the requirement that many organizations have with their SharePoint system – deleting SharePoint libraries or whole sites at the conclusion of a project. The example I shared for this use case was that of members of a legal team working on a company acquisition. They have created and collected many documents to help with the acquisition, but once the acquisition is complete, the SharePoint library or site must be deleted to ensure the documents remain privy to the legal team and cannot be seen by anyone not authorized to do so.

For this use case, Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector could be configured to allow content storage in WebCenter to occur via a check box. The description for the check box is configurable, but for example, it could simply say “Store in WebCenter”. Such a check box allows a site arbiter on the legal team to determine the content that needs to be retained and stored in WebCenter. This could be content that needs to be retained per compliance or legal reasons, as well as content that needs to be shared with users outside the legal team such as members of the executive team.

  • Business Specific Storage Requirements
    For this use case the example I shared is an organization that has many, different requirements for the SharePoint content they wish to store in WebCenter. These requirements are driven by the various business units. For example, members of an organization’s financial team will have different retention requirements of content and will have to store the majority of the content they create per financial document retention rules. Contrast this with the Legal team example described above who do not want to store the majority of their content and want to be more selective.

The feature to leverage for this use case is the ability to override storage settings that are initially made at the SharePoint central admin level. This feature enables organizations to get their SharePoint to WebCenter integration up and running quickly, but puts the control of content storage in the hands of the business units that understand exactly the content they need to store in WebCenter for retention, distribution, and re-purposing.

Use Cases for Oracle’s SharePoint Integration

I will not try to fully detail the use cases that John did such a great job discussing during the webinar, so I will provide a summary instead. For a more detailed description, please watch the on-demand recording. John begins discussing Oracle’s use cases at about minute 43.

  • Improve Performance
    John spoke to the advantages of storing BLOBs outside of SQL server, which would help improve overall system performance. With Oracle’s connector leveraging RBS, it is very easy for organizations to centralize all SharePoint content to WebCenter and leverage the Oracle database to scale to trillions of items.
  • Improve Governance
    For this use case, John spoke to how a lot of companies using SharePoint have struggled with governance of the system. Sites and overall use quickly spirals out of control leaving IT to clean up the mess of orphaned sites and content. By centrally managing this content in WebCenter, organizations can leverage the records and retention management policies they have in place to better manage content.
  • Re-Use Content
    The point John made with this use case is that by centralizing SharePoint content in WebCenter, that content can then be re-used or surfaced to other Oracle-based systems and applications – WebCenter Portal, WebCenter Sites, E-Business Suite, etc. Companies can leverage Oracle WebCenter’s out-of-the-box integrations for this purpose. The big benefit here is getting rid of SharePoint silos, and providing users access to high-value content outside of SharePoint.

Use Case Summaries

Well, there you have it. Integrating SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter Content can be achieved via the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide. As you consider such an integration, please first consider your integration use case and ultimately what your organization is trying to achieve. Here is a table that summarizes and compares use cases for each integration:

You can access and watch the webinar recording from Fishbowl’s YouTube Channel. Enjoy, and please pass along any feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.