PeopleTools 8.54 Initial Impressions

I had a chance to play with PeopleTools 8.54 the other day in my virtual environment.  Just trying to see what the upgrade process will look like for us when we go forward.  A few initial thoughts:

  • The installer.properties format for 8.54 hasn’t changed from 8.53, so you can still use the installer file I posted a while back.  Good news for automated installs!
  • Bad news for automated installs – I can’t seem to get the installer to run silently from a network location.  Seems like some sort of signed executable issue on Windows Server 2012 R2.  I will need to look at this to figure out a way around it.  The wrapper scripts might need work.
  • WebLogic 12 has moved to the Fusion Middleware model and as such, all the WebLogic install wrappers and PSU update wrappers I wrote for 10.3.6 don’t work at all anymore and will need a rewrite.  Patching is now done using opatch instead of bsu.
  • Tuxedo 12 works just like before, so good news there.  Saves some work.
  • I have been reading through the install documentation and can’t figure out if they have moved search to Secure Enterprise Search finally or if you still need Verity.  Verity isn’t listed in the documentation, but it’s part of the Campus Solutions package download from Oracle’s E-Delivery site.  Any readers know the situation here?

I’m glad I took some time to try this out as the start of the upgrade process would have been a bad time to find out the automated installers didn’t work anymore.

If and when I end up rewriting the wrappers I’ll put them up on GitHub and let everyone know.

System Center Orchestrator And VM Creation Rant

I’ve recently got the chance to begin working with System Center Orchestrator 2012 R2, which is looking like it is going to be awesome for really getting our environment to the automated level.  That is, if I ever figure out how to use the thing.

I have been looking through the book System Center 2012 Orchestrator Unleashed on Safari Books which has given me a decent basic introduction to functionality and features, but there’s a lot that can be done with this product, especially when you start adding Integration Packs to interface with other System Center products and anything else in your environment with a provided IP.

Right now, I am trying to automate the VM creation process through Orchestrator.  The goal is to make the creation of one or many VMs a single-click operation from a webpage.  This has been much more of a challenge than I anticipated.

When you aren’t using PowerShell or a scripting editor such as PowerCLI, it is hard to keep track of all the operations that need to happen before the next step can take place.  For example, the next step in your procedure might require a VM ID instead of a VM Name, which might not be published data from the activity that just finished.  So you get lost trying to figure out why the operation just failed, when you are passing information the next step can’t use.

I’ve taken to saving the VM specifications in a database and using Orchestrator to query the information.  Sadly, Orchestrator cannot return information from a database query except as a semicolon-delimited string, which means you need a script to parse that output and then build arrays for your activities.

Looping is another complaint I have.  It doesn’t seem as flexible as what is available in PowerShell.  I was attempting to allow a runbook to create multiple hard disks, but it took a long time for me to figure out how to get the loop to pick out a different bus for each disk.  Actually, that one was kind of embarrassing because you can count the number of times a loop has executed, but it’s not obvious.

Maybe I should just be chalking all this up to the learning phase, but it seems like there is a real lack of documentation for Orchestrator itself.  Don’t get me wrong though, I think it is going to be a great thing once we get some runbooks built and working the way we want.

I hope to have some runbooks that I’ll be able to post to GitHub once I get something of use done, so maybe someone can learn from my mistakes.

Automated PeopleTools Installation – And More!

Ever got the go-ahead for an upgrade or installation of PeopleTools, looked at all your application and web servers, and thought “Man, if only there was some way to automate all these installs”?  Me too.

Sadly, Oracle does not make this easy to do.  The “installer.properties” files written by the install processes are usually incomplete and can’t actually be used to reproduce an installation.  Fortunately, through the magic of Java decompilers, InstallShield 2013, and hard work, I’m here to share working installer.properties files for not only things that come with Oracle-generated examples, but PeopleTools itself.

I think the most obscure automated installation is PeopleTools, so I’ll start there.  You can find the PeopleTools installer.properties file you can use to structure your own installation on my GitHub. Just look at some of those names – USER_INPUT_RESULT_14?  Way to make it easy.  Edit that file to reflect your environment and database type, then just use “setup.exe -f installer.properties” to silently and automatically install PeopleTools.  Of course, why stop there?  I’ve also written PowerShell wrappers for both installing a new Tools environment and upgrading an existing install to a point release.  These scripts handle your error checking during the process and the upgrade script will automatically update your PIA installer files on a file share while preserving your custom installer.properties for your PIA automatic installs.

Speaking of PIA automatic installs, some people know that Oracle provides a skeleton installer.properties for PIA in the \scripts directory of PsMpInstall.  For those that didn’t, you can find a usable installer.properties for PIA here.  I have a PowerShell wrapper for the PIA install, but it’s a fairly simple process to call the PIA executable with the file.  Nicholas Gasparotto did a nice write-up  – although he is on Linux the basic steps are the same.

We’ve now got our PeopleTools and PIA silent installs covered, but how can we do the prerequisites too?  We need to install Tuxedo on the application servers and WebLogic on the PIA servers.  Never fear though…

Oracle has a write-up on unattended Tuxedo installs on their site.  Maybe I’m slow but I didn’t find it too easy to follow right off the bat.  So, grab your Tuxedo installer.properties file here and make it easy on yourself by just having to customize for your environment.  Then, just follow Oracle’s instructions to call the installer with your file.

But what about Tuxedo Rolling Patches?  We don’t want to move on without those, right? I have a nice PowerShell wrapper for the process of installing an RP that takes care of all the steps in that procedure, including uninstall, cleanup, error handling, etc.  Easy, and better, automated.

WebLogic is another product Oracle wrote a guide for silent installation for.  But if you don’t want to read all that and write your silent.xml, get yours here! Oh, and there’s also another PowerShell wrapper for the install process.  It’s not as involved as the others though.

Again, what about WebLogic Patch Set Updates? Grab your PSU PowerShell wrapper and automate those installs away.

I left out JDK automated installs because that process is fairly well documented in my opinion.  I do have a PowerShell wrapper for that as well that takes care of uninstalls, error handling, and other minor stuff – if anyone wants it leave a comment and it can be another post.

Want to take all that to the next level?  Set up a file share, get all your properties and XML files in line, then convert those scripts to SCCM packages.  Now, you can deploy installs or upgrades to site collections and never even have to log in to a machine.

If something gets confusing let me know and I’ll try to help if I can.  Converting all these steps to SCCM packages has really changed the way I handle upgrades and installs for our PeopleTools environments.

PowerShell Remoting HTTPS Group Policy Configuration

Edited to add – This document apparently only works with Windows Server 2008 R2.  When tested with Server 2012 R2 the steps fail, so keep this in mind.

…and the first restoration is the PDF I wrote about PowerShell Remoting configuration with HTTPS and Group Policy, including ACLs.  The reason I started the old blog; you didn’t think I’d lose this file did you?

For your viewing pleasure, download here.