Archive for November, 2009

UKOUG Birmingham 2009

Friday, November 27th, 2009 by

Hi All

Just letting you know we will be exhibiting at the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham 30th November until the 2nd of December 2009.

Please come and visit us at stand 54 & 59

Drop by and register your details with us to win a ROVIO

We look forward to seeing you there

Rebecca :)

RMAN backup-based duplicate database without connection to the source in 11GR2

Friday, November 20th, 2009 by

11g release 1 introduced the RMAN active database duplication feature, where you can duplicate a database without having to take a backup of the source database.

A new feature in 11g release 2 is the ability to use RMAN to duplicate a database without having to connect to the source database. At the time of writing, most of the RMAN documentation tends to refer you back to 10gR2 documents for backup-based restores, whilst 11gR2 documents tend to focus on active database duplication, so I thought that a blog on this topic could be of use.

This functionality would be useful if you have thought about using the 11g active database duplication feature, but are concerned about possible network performance issues during the process.

Another situation where this procedure could be used, is where you have been asked to create a copy of a database on an isolated test server, where connection to the source database is not possible.

As in previous Oracle versions, it is still possible to create a clone of the source database by just extracting the database files from the RMAN backuppieces using DBMS_BACKUP_RESTORE. (See my previous blog “Extracting database files from RMAN backuppieces using DBMS_BACKUP_RESTORE” for an example of this).  11gR2 introduces a much more straightforward method of cloning the database without a connection to the source database.

An example of this process is shown below.  In this scenario we’ll assume that the server that you’re duplicating the database to, has the same directory structure as the source server and that you want the cloned database to have the same name as the original source database.  The source database is using an SPFILE.  We’ll also assume that you’re not using a recovery catalog on the source or target servers, as this would probably be the situation if restoring to a remote test server.  The SID of the database is ORCL, so replace with your own SID where appropriate.

The cloned database needs to be on the same platform as the source database and also have 11gR2 installed.
WARNING/DISCLAIMER: Before running any of these commands, you should ensure that you have current backups of any databases on the server.  Refer to the more comprehensive Oracle support site notes and Oracle documentation before carrying out any work in a formal environment.  The author accepts no responsibility for any damage to your data, server or database, by carrying out the commands below.

1) Take a full backup of the source database. 
Our example database is running in archivelog mode, so we can take a hot backup.

a) create a directory to store the output from the backup.  (For this example, I created the directory /u02/oradata/backup_orcl ).
b) Set your environment to the required database. (e.g. by running . oraenv)
c) Run RMAN commands to take the backup.  We’ll specify an alternate location for the backups, otherwise they’ll just default to the flash recovery area (FRA).  Whilst you could use the contents of the FRA for the clone, there may be files from other database in the same shared area and there could also be files here from previous backups, which you don’t need for this clone.  Sending the backup to a separate location makes it easier to identify the files that you need.


connect target
spool log to ‘/u02/oradata/backup_orcl/full_database_orcl.log’;
configure channel device type disk format ‘/u02/oradata/backup_orcl/orcl_%U’;
backup database plus archivelog;

(You can run    tail -f /u02/oradata/backup_orcl/full_database_orcl.log   as the backup runs, if you wish to monitor progress).
2) Configure the environment on the destination server
a) Create a password file in $ORACLE_HOME/dbs using the orapwd utility.
b) Configure the $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/listener.ora file.  The only entries used for this work were:
    (SID_DESC =
      (SID_NAME = PLSExtProc)
      (ORACLE_HOME = /u01/opt/oracle/product/11gR2/db_1)
      (PROGRAM = extproc)

      (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = localhost)(PORT = 1521))
c) Configure the $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/tnsnames.ora file.  The only entry added for this work was:

    (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = localhost)(PORT = 1521))
      (SERVICE_NAME = orcl)


d) Create directories on the target server that are present on the source server. (e.g. archive destination, scripts, application directories, utl_file/dba_directories, flash recovery area, external table locations, database/redo log/controlfile/admin/diag directories, backup locations etc.)

e)  Create the $ORACLE_HOME/dbs/initSID.ora file for the duplicate database.  The only entry needed is:

No other information is required, as we’ll extract the source database SPFILE from the backup.

f)  Add an entry to /etc/oratab for the database.

g) Set your environment to the new database and then startup the clone instance.

sqlplus / as sysdba
startup nomount

h) Run RMAN command to clone the database. (We don’t need to specify the database name or DBID, as these are obtained from the backups).

rman auxiliary /

  BACKUP LOCATION ‘/u02/oradata/backup_orcl’


Note: Be careful when running any duplicates on the same host as the source database when specifying the NOFILENAMECHECK option. This option could mean that you over-write your source database files.
i) Finally, you will need to re-create a tempfile for your temporary tablespace.  From 10gR2, this would normally be created for you in a standard RMAN clone, but it is not re-created at present when using this method.

A tempfile is created, but it is not recognised as being part of the database - i.e. select file_name from dba_temp_files; returns the errors: “ORA-01157: cannot identify/lock data file X“   From the trace files it looks like there are some issues with the tempfile creation process. Sample errors are  “Cannot re-create tempfile dbf, the same name file exists“  and “ORA-03214: File Size specified is smaller than minimum required“. It seems that the file creation works, but the file created is too small to be usable at 8MB - the original tempfile was 29MB in this test database. 

This may be due to a bug, or due to the current design of this feature, or it could be due to the configuration of the test database used for this scenario. Fixing the issue is pretty straightforward - just drop and re-create the tempfile:

alter database tempfile ‘/u01/opt/oracle/oradata/orcl/temp01.dbf’ drop;
alter tablespace temp add tempfile ‘/u01/opt/oracle/oradata/orcl/temp01.dbf’ size 100M reuse autoextend on maxsize 5120M;

Other useful features of the duplicate process are that you can choose to exclude selected tablespaces and you can also choose to carry out a point-in-time duplicate of the source database.
References used: Oracle Support notes 228257.1, 259694.1, 452868.1, 452868.1, 568034.1, 374934.1,
Oracle Database Backup and Recovery User’s Guide 11g Release 2 (11.2) - ch 23: Duplicating a Database

New Release White Paper through Contractors Network

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 by

Contractors Network is pleased to announce the latest free of charge release into our extensive Oracle Apps related White Paper Library of:

Fundamentals of Change Management in an Oracle ERP Transformation Programme
Authored by Khalil Rehman

About Khalil;

Khalil has over 20 year’s functional experience with Oracle Applications having started out in the late 1980s with Oracle General Ledger and Accounts Payables. His in depth knowledge of the Oracle Applications makes him an expert in every sense. He has implemented over 18 different applications in over 54 projects across 14 different countries worldwide. Khalil has spearheaded some of the largest Shared Service Centre projects in the last 7 years.

He is an accomplished author and has written articles on accountancy and Oracle Applications since the early 1980s Khalil is a member of the UKOUG White Paper panel and regularly reviews the latest trends on behalf of Oracle.

This paper is split in 4 key areas

The process of Change
Obstacles of Change
How to Manage Change

If you would like request a copy please email myself on or register via the White Paper library today.

ERP Customers Rules OK?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 by

Recently I blogged about how people drive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to success.  The tools that leverage superior people performance in turn can enhance the business performance of ERP systems in an organisation. The social phenomenon known as social media marketing can play an important part in ERP performance in the future. Let’s see it from the customer / user perspective.

The social media marketing ‘Big 4’ of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and You Tube together with blogs, websites and intranet pages offer the following possible benefits for ERP customers / users:

•    Promoting your site or business
•    Improved marketing, PR and customer service
•    Powerful strategy to gain connections & knowledge
•    Conversations with vendors and ERP experts directly
•    Conversations with other ERP customers/ users   
•    Easy searching of ERP vendors and  experts
•    Easy searching of other ERP customers/users
•    Groups sharing best practises and knowledge
•    Personalisation - find people you know, like & trust
•    Cost effective marketing solutions
•    Obtaining recommendations & references
•    Online business meetings
•    Intranet pages for ERP user communities
•    Ask questions and ask for help

The key objectives for all ERP systems should be:

•    Automating processes - achieving cost savings
•    Informing stakeholders (reporting) - effective information    for competitive advantage
•    Educating users and managers - to utilise the full potential of ERP systems
•    Transforming the way business is done - use ERP systems to change for the better

Organisations which fail to maximise the potential of ERP systems display similar problems such as heavy customizations, a lack of planning and management, disgruntled users, ad hoc ancillary systems in MS Excel and MS Access, an array of reporting tools, problematic interfaces and are often IT driven. There is a big hole between the users and the applications team in IT. Much disappears down it….

Could it be that just like people, ERP systems need behaviours and attributes to drive them to success? I believe even in successful ERP implementations the Go Live is the half way mark at best.

So what are the drivers for ERP performance success?

In my experience I would suggest the following:

•    Actually Managing Oracle Applications 
•    Successful Change Management
•    Leading a Support Team
•    Measuring Success and Value for Money
•    Data and Information Management
•    Customers and Collaboration
•    Reporting and Business Intelligence
•    Empowerment and Super Users
•    Change Control and Value for Money
•    Project Management Kept Simple
•    Process Improvement

So how can the features, tools and strategies of social media marketing support these drivers? Well a little brainstorming suggests the following.

The search and selection of ERP vendors can be supported by finding and conversing with the vendors’ existing customers about the suitability of their solution. The recruitment of ERP staff and contractors follows the same line.

There should be greater visibility of both ERP strategy and business ownership of ERP systems in the organisation. Greater personalisation and visibility will enable companies to become demand-driven ERP users rather than supply-driven.

Successful change management can be supported by more informal and rapid communications of visions, strategies, online training, online presentations, conversations, and the publication of short term wins. The team can be fired up by a leadership alliance and team of change agents both visible and consistent in their messages.

An effective support team can be enhanced by joining online communities on social media sites around their ERP system. They can listen to their users daily about their pain points. Support updates, training tips and system downtimes can be communicated by text or video. They should use Intranet forms for support service requests ensuring requests reach support analysts almost immediately.

Both technical and business performance can be measured, published, discussed, and improved using online communities. Such communities can undertake their own benchmarking initiatives covering ROI, service requests, customer analysis, efficiency analysis, change requests and the efficiency and effectiveness of ongoing training provision including online delivery.

Business process, data and information management best practises can also be published and discussed in social media groups and intranet pages. 

It is so important to clearly define your customers and users. Then collaborate with these colleagues in organisations using engagement models and custodianship models. These define clearly and consistently engagements, roles, responsibilities, duties etc. Using social media tools can enhance communications and teamwork especially between the business and IT.

ERP Reporting and Business Intelligence are minefields which again need the collaboration of the business and IT. The healthier and more personalised this relationship it will surely improve the chances of clearly defining requirements and jointly seeking optimal solutions from vendors.

ERP Super Users can enhance their teamwork, training and education using social media tools. This should help fill the hole between IT and the business. There are many resources available out there to be consumed, discussed and shared in their communities. Their customers including users, managers, auditors and other stakeholders can join in these conversations. 

Organisations can improve change request control and securing value for money processes by increasing visibility and inviting rapid feedback from all functional analysts and business colleagues too. 

Project management can be kept simple and more effective by building relationships between all stakeholders; and using online meetings and social media tools to enhance communications, project reporting, asking for help, mitigating risks and fixing issues. 

Social media marketing is about personalisation - people talking to each other and nurturing relationships. People working and doing business with those they know, like and trust too. There is greater participation, openness and willingness to help. There are many tools which can be utilised such as forums, groups, fan pages, profile searches, recommendations etc.

Organisations need to have a social media strategy which leverages the benefits and mitigates the security and PR risks; and manages changing relationships with vendors. The costs of social media marketing are a fraction of the potential rewards.

There are real cost savings out there to be gained from improved ERP selection, recruitment of resources, and fiercer and fairer competition between ERP vendors. A highly motivated IT and business alliance can leverage the drivers of ERP performance and drive greater value from ERP systems.

Legal Claims and Payment Plans for Receivables and Advanced Collections Part 4

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 by


The Enforcement tab is used to record details of actions taken through a court. It allows the DCO to enter court and claim references, significant dates and costs and interest charges added to the claim.  If costs and interest charges are added the claim amount and current balance are automatically changed. Lewisham uses Money Claim Online, the on-line court case entry system, and the screen is tailored to fit with this. Case details produced by Money Claim Online are entered into the Enforcement tab. When a claim is first registered with the court a Claim Number is allocated by the court; the the DCO may set the Claim Reference to this number if required. There is no interface between Money Claim Online and Financials so the DCO has to enter the information into Financials manually.

The Recovery Stage is used to keep track of the status of the claim, possible values are:

Distress Warrant                                  Court bailiffs to pursue claim
Judgement by Default                           Customer did not contest claim in court
Payment Order                                     Court enforced payment plan
Third Party Debt Order                          Claim to be paid from customers account with bank or building society
Stat. Demand                                       Statutory Demand
Bankruptcy Petition                               Customer to be declared bankrupt
Order for Sale                                       Court order for sale of customers property
Order for Questioning                            Customer ordered to attend court
In Preparation                                       Not yet active

The Stage Date tells when the claim entered its current Recovery Stage.

The Enforcement tab is changed only by the DCO’s. The system never makes any changes to the information in this tab. The DCO’s may produce reports of claims using the information shown in the tab but the system does not take any action based on this information.


The Debt Collector tab is used to store details of the debt collection agency that a claim has been referred to. No automatic actions are taken based on this information but it may be used in reports. The debt collector is selected from a picklist maintained as a quickcode.


The Bailiff tab is used to store details of the bailiff that a claim has been referred to. No automatic actions are taken based on this information but it may be used in reports. The bailiff is selected from a picklist maintained as a quickcode.

Please see part 5 for the Payment Plan Tab. Also this series is available on the White Paper library.

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