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PeopleSoft – What Does The Future Hold? September 14, 2016

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools, Strategy.
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In an earlier post titled Banishing PeopleSoft Myths I shared my perspective of the current state of the PeopleSoft product and marketplace. I thought it’d be an interesting exercise to try to look forwards and to define what I think the future might hold for the product line. Some of this might be a little off-target, some might be a mile off target and some I might have changed my mind on if you ask me next week, but hopefully it starts some discussions.

PeopleSoft Moves to The Cloud

An easy one first. There’s a strong push to move to The Cloud and that should be apparent to pretty much everyone. There are some compelling success stories for PeopleSoft in the Cloud, customers have gained huge performance oracle-public-cloudincreases and flexibility in infrastructure, as well as saving money. So far these success stories have been on AWS, and – to a lesser extent – on Azure, however Oracle wants a piece of that pie now. The Oracle Compute Cloud should be an option whenever there’s a discussion on Cloud hosting (and this discussion should be held before any hardware refresh or major upgrade/get current).

Oracle is also making it easier for customers to move to The Cloud. The PeopleSoft Cloud Architecture is a set of functionality and tools that eases the transition, and it will be enhanced in future PeopleTools versions.

The PeopleSoft Marketplace Remains Buoyant

Cedar’s current experience is that there is a lot of activity in the market. Through the coming years we shouldn’t expect a huge number of net-new clients buying PeopleSoft, however existing clients are very loyal to the product and will continue to take advantage of the new features that are added to the product. It’s easy to imagine that over the coming years there will be widescale adoption of Fluid and Cloud Architecture.

More PeopleSoft Hosting

It’s becoming easier for customers to outsource the care of their PeopleSoft systems to partners – or, in the future, maybe even Oracle themselves. The Cloud makes the infrastructure significantly cheaper, and the PeopleSoft Cloud Architecture will make the administration simpler too. The PeopleSoft application will simply be provided to the client as a service, with all the hardware, DBA services and patcsa-image-hosting-iconhing performed by the partner for a flat monthly fee. PeopleSoft updates could also be rolled into this as Selective Adoption forms a key piece of the application maintenance model and lends itself very well to the Cloud hosting model.

There have been other advances in PeopleTools too that make it easier to reduce customisations – thereby making it easier for organisations to host multiple customer environments. The new related content event mapping functionality enables you to replace (some) customised code, and I’m sure the PSAdmin.io guys mentioned a technique for adding fields to a page via config instead of customisation (but I can’t find a link for it). The closer you are to vanilla the easier it is keep your application updated with the latest security, product fixes and new features.

Will Oracle provide “PeopleSoft as a Service”? Currently the answer – at least publicly – is ‘No’ however that might change over time. Oracle are moving their OnDemand offering over from physical hardware to Cloud infrastructure so they will host the servers and provide maintenance resources for clients.

PeopleSoft and Containers

The next evolution on from Virtual Machines is the use of ‘container’ technology. The problem with having a server containing multiple VMs is that each VM needs to have its own Operating System installed, kept patched and kept in sync. This – and the other software that could be shared – introduces a lot of duplication. Containers are like cut-down VMs, there is no OS within the container, just the application itself. Each of the containers shares the OS that’s installed on the host. There’s adocker
good intro to containers here.

Vendors have started to adopt this container technology – Docker is by far the most widely known – and it’d be no surprise if PeopleSoft starts to do the same. It’d be great to be able to drop in another App Server container without having to mess around with building one. The DPKs get us part way there, but this could be the next progression. First we’ll need to wait for Oracle Compute Cloud support for Docker first (or whatever snappy name Oracle gives to their Docker equivalent … maybe the ‘Oracle Enterprise Container Management Service’?)

Greater Fluid Adoption

Somewhere between 50-60% of customers are on v9.2, which means they’re either using or preparing to use Selective Adoption. Once a customer starts on the Selective Adoption path, they’ll find that the Fluid UI is the interface that updates and fixes will be delivered on. This will drive Fluid adoption. This is good for Self Service users as they’d typically benefit the most from a Fluid roll-out.

Although there is some pain involved in getting Fluid up and running all of the feedback that we’ve heard to date is that those who’ve made the jump are very happy with the results. Self Service users stand to gain the most as Fluid really makes PeopleSoft a lot more accessible to infrequent users.

The role of SysAdmin is Changing

The role of the PeopleSoft SysAdmin is dramatically different than it was 5 years ago. The advent of PUM, Selective Adoption, DPKs, Puppet and SES, and the imminent adoption of the Cloud Delivery Architecture and Elasticsearch have all shifted the landscape significantly.

Much of this is good news. For instance, Selective Adoption and DPKs have both made the SysAdmin’s life easier (once the toolset has been learnt). The future sounds like this trend will continue as Cloud Manager will allow one-click provisioning and refreshes of environments, and Elasticsearch promises to alleviate some of the SES headaches.

This greater functionality does come at a cost for the SysAdmin, and that is that there is a wider breadth to the set of tools that they are required to master. The days where the SysAdmin just needed to do installs and tuning have passed. This increased automation brings the requirement for DevOps SysAdmins – i.e. SysAdmins who are able to cut some code.

The role of Developer is Changing

Developers too are finding that the goalposts are moving. Developers who’ve only just recovered from swapping out their FuncLibs for App Packages are now reeling from the news that there is even more to learn. Fluid brings a requirement to know much more HTML, CSS and some JavaScript. Having seen a recent demo where Jim Marion completely re-laid out a Fluid page using the Chrome Developer console rather than PeopleCode really brought this home. The next tech coming over the hill at Deve
lopers is Oracle JET – a collection of the most useful JavaScript frameworks.

LogStash for PeopleSoft

I felt I should end with a real ‘out there’ prediction. With Elasticsearch we can see that Oracle are open to including a new 3rd party product as part of the stack (previously it seemed like 3rd party tools were slowly being phased out) so what other new products or tools might be included? Elasticsearch is made by a company called Elastic, but they have other offerings in addition to their core Search product.logstash The one that looks the most appealing from a PeopleSoft point-of-view is LogStash. I’ve looked at it a number of times over the years but its lack of Windows support was always a barrier for me, however now it’s available on Windows. LogStash is a log file aggregation tool, it takes all of the entries in all of your log files spread across all of your servers and makes them available for searching in one central repository. It’s easy to see how that might be incredibly useful in a PeopleSoft context. There are alternative tools that perform a similar role – Splunk for example – however I think LogStash is the most obvious selection.

UPDATE: The PSAdmin.io guys discussed Splunk and LogStash in their latest Podcast.

So, there are 8 predictions for the coming years. Have I missed anything glaring? Have I got one of them wrong?

Comments

1. Clyde Sites - October 1, 2016

I think there could be a chance in the future for still a PeopleSoft 9.3 version. For the simple reason as they keep adding more and more PUM updates every quarter/year and increasing tools versions along with some clients that get way behind in applying PUM patches/tools updates that then decide later to get caught up that the PUM approach could break under the sheer weight of all these little changes that could accumulate. There could be clients asking for a better more efficient approach for doing this kind of volume of PUM/tools changes. It may not get called PeopleSoft 9.3 but Oracle may still need to consider providing an alternative old style upgrade path again. I might be completely off with this if things are truly mature now with the technology but I won’t be surprised either if that happens. Especially if new complex technologies get introduced at the tools level.


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