The basics of batch in Oracle environments

Learning how to perform batch processes in all different Oracle environments is a stepping stone toward automating business processes.

In the Oracle realm, there are many different ways to manage and execute batch jobs, depending on the Oracle technology in use. Most Oracle database administrators approach batch-job processing from the command-line interface (CLI), but that is a manual process and requires hands-on knowledge, monitoring, execution and validation.

Luckily, Oracle offers many tools that make the batch creation and execution process a little easier, and there are also third-party tools that can simplify batch execution and management. With Oracle’s E-Business Suite, the tool of choice is the Oracle Concurrent Manager, or more correctly, one of the Oracle Concurrent Managers. There are several Concurrent Managers, each governing flow within each Oracle Apps area. In addition, there are “super” Concurrent Managers, whose job is to govern the behavior of the slave Concurrent Managers.

Batch in E-Business Suite
With that in mind, E-Business Suite has three important master Concurrent Managers: the Internal Concurrent Manager, the Standard Manager and the Conflict Resolution Manager. Each is responsible for managing various processes in E-Business Suite, and whole books have been dedicated to the intricacies of the Concurrent Managers. Nevertheless, understanding how Concurrent Managers interact with E-Business Suite is a critical component of designing, tuning and managing batch jobs.

The formulaic process of building batch processes is easy, but the programmer must have intimate knowledge of how the functions work. What’s more, the formulaic process can be somewhat limiting in flexibility and proves best for batch processes such as quarterly ledger posts and report generation.

Third-party tools offer additional functionality for E-Business Suite. They provide functions for batch-production processes, including complete automation of E-Business Suite jobs, while offering synchronization of external production (Unix and Windows NT, among others) with internal E-Business Suite production. They include real-time monitoring of Oracle E-Business Suite production, enhanced scheduling and sequencing functionalities for E-Business Suite batch jobs. Third-party tools add another level of management to the process and help build automated solutions and integration.

Dealing with batch processes is not unique to Oracle’s E-Business Suite. PeopleSoft and JD Edwards also require batch processing for their environments, and business platforms have similar challenges, yet they differ in execution.

Batch processing in PeopleSoft applications
PeopleSoft relies on PeopleTools Process Scheduler to run jobs on a regular schedule. Perhaps one of the biggest differences in how PeopleSoft handles batches comes from the use of Application Engine programs, which comprise PeopleSoft's batch processing technology. These programs are developed in Application Designer and consist of blocks of PeopleCode and SQL, which are then stored to be executed by the Process Scheduler. Application Designer is used for more than batch processes; it is also used to design and build code for other functions as well. That adds a layer of complexity to the batch process but also gives batch processing more flexibility.

Of course, there are third-party products that can enhance batch design and processing of PeopleSoft PeopleCode-based batches. Whether or not a third party tool is required is up to the administrator, who can judge whether the in-house batch code builders have the knowledge, time and initiative to code and manage batch processes using native tools.

The ins and outs of batch with JD Edwards
Much the same can be said for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. Third-party tools are available, and it really is an administrative decision on whether or not to use them. However, batch-processing design in EnterpriseOne is rather sophisticated, and JD Edwards devotes a great deal of resources for supporting batch processing.

The process for building batch jobs under EnterpriseOne is similar to those in other platforms, but there are underlying differences that make the process unique. With EnterpriseOne’s native tools, building a batch process means creating a Batch Application task. That task is built using the Workflow Modeler, which offers a graphical representation of how elements will be executed. The actual batch commands are inserted into application query forms from a lookup of available commands.

The formulaic process of building batch processes is easy, but the programmer must have intimate knowledge of how the functions work. What’s more, the formulaic process can be somewhat limiting in flexibility and proves best for batch processes such as quarterly ledger posts and report generation.

Batches are run using the EnterpriseOne Workflow Scheduler, which allows you to launch and halt instances automatically or manually. For automatic execution, Workflow Scheduler runs on the enterprise server where Workflow Modeler resides.

Batch processing can be a complicated process, and the various vendors handle those tasks in different fashions. However, all benefit from the use of third-party tools, which can streamline batch creation and improve batch management -- saving time, resources and ultimately improving the return on investment of an enterprise platform.

This was first published in September 2011

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