Siebel IP17 – Statement of Direction

ip17sod

It has been released, the yearly ‘Statement of Direction’ – for many regarded as a ‘State of the Union’ for Siebel – for the release to come. That will obviously be Innovation Pack 2017, to see the daylight around April/May next year. John Bedford posted on Oracle OpenUI blog last week about it.

The full details can be found per usual on Oracle Support:

Innovation Pack 2017 (17.0) for Siebel CRM Statement of Direction / Planned Features (Doc ID 2179185.1)

For sure, Innovation Pack 2017 first and foremost is focused on Siebel Composer, Siebel Composer and again Siebel Composer. The one and most import design theme, at the roots of Siebel as we have known it over the past two decades. IP15 and IP16 have presented ‘developer previews’ and after two years in infancy, innovating and maturing – it will be the real deal in Innovation Pack 2017. And no, Siebel Tools will not cease to exist – and a lot of activities will still be managed through Siebel Tools. Scripting, Workflow, Incremental Repository Merge, … it will remain in Tools. Don’t be fooled.

The Workspaces – no-more-local-database – introduced with Innovation Pack 2016 will become default. And for that Workspaces will be enhanced to allow for full multi-level branching, to support parallel, multi-release development. I say will allow because it certainly will require very strong governance, not getting lost at the same time. Governance and overseeing ongoing developments will become even more important than it’s today. So: Lead Solution Architect: be prepared!

Composer and Workspaces lay out the foundation for agile development with Siebel better than ever before. But agile development also requires (regression) test automation, ideally on a daily basis. It has always been the Achilles’ heel and never an easy task, relying on 3rd party software such as Oracle’s Application Test Suite. Since a couple of years Oracle has been using internally a Selenium-based solution for regression testing of all OpenUI applications using a Keyword-driven framework build around Selenium. This has matured and it’s good to see it surface in the Statement of Direction. It will create only a loose dependency with Selenium, where all test scripts/suites and executions are managed and stored in the Siebel database.

And yes, Siebel becomes elastic where finally one would be able to dynamically provision a new Siebel Server in an up-and-running Siebel enterprise at zero-downtime. Though this feature is reserved for customers deploying on Oracle’s Public Cloud infrastructure.

To close off, Siebel REST API will be enhanced to support Swagger for service description. As well, REST API will be more dynamic in terms of ability to describe on the request the needed output (e.g. child entities and fields required). Great!

– Jeroen

PS: This might become my final post on the Oracle Implementation Advisor Blog…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siebel IP16 Available on Oracle Cloud

Siebel Innovation Pack 2016 is now readily available to run on Oracle’s Cloud. Check out Oracle’s Cloud Marketplace and get going!

ip16iaas

You will have the option to either pick the Demo (sample) database, or go for a plain installation.

Follow these links to the Cloud market place.

Pricing for Oracle’s compute and storage is very attractive. Especially if you’re primary interest would be first of all to leverage a Cloud-based deployment purely for discovery and demonstration purposes. In the latter case it would likely be sufficient to have just a few CPU cores available to run the database and Siebel enterprise tiers.

More information?

Happy discovery!

– Jeroen

 

Siebel IP15.8/14.14 Has Arrived

IP158

Siebel IP15.8/14.14 arrived, per scheduled date. The traditional document to keep a close eye on “Oracle Support Document 1614310.1 (Siebel Patchset Installation Guides for Siebel Innovation Packs)” has been updated as well. Unfortunately, the awaited “Desktop Integration Siebel Agent (DISA)” framework solution has been pushed into the February patchset IP15.9/14.15.

There are a couple of bugs to mention here:

  • Bug 2132644 – IN THE ANDROID TABLET BROWSER, THE KEYBOARD POPS UP WHEN YOU CLICK ON THE NEXT RECORD BUTTON IN THE FORM.
  • Bug 22327858 – UNABLE TO UPDATE THE VALUE OF THE CHECK BOX IN THE ANDROID TABLET BROWSER.
  • Bug 22158305 – WHEN YOU ENTER THE DATE USING THE KEYBOARD THERE IS DATA LOSS IN THE OPEN USER INTERFACE.
  • Bug 22447460 – THE BC USER PROPERTY “FIELD READ ONLY FIELD” IS NOT WORKING CORRECTLY.
  • Bug 22447602 – TOGGLE APPLETS ARE NOT SWITCHED WHEN A PDQ IS EXECUTED.

– Jeroen

 

Siebel OpenUI Boilerplate on Github!

Chances are that you have used or even are a frequent user of Duncan Ford‘s boilerplate code generator for Siebel OpenUI. His boilerplate code generator surely is the safest and most effective way to start any undertaking comprising a custom presentation model, physical renderer or control plug-in wrapper. It prevents you from those silly typo’s which can easily waste your time. All together, a huge efficiency tool.

Well, Duncan decided to move his code from JSFiddle to Github. For a very good reason of course. This move permits those with ideas for improvements to add them directly to Github’s managed issues log, and, for those more skilled, to allow to directly submit pull-requests with changes made. Which Duncan then will be able to test and decide upon

Although the existing tiny.cc URLs which you might or might not have bookmarked, have been changed by Duncan as well to reflect the new location. Below the direct Github URLs.

– Jeroen

 

Desktop Integration Siebel Agent (DISA)

The 2016 SOD already mentioned a totally new Siebel acronym. Because running out of three-letter-acronyms, resorting to four-letter acronyms ūüėČ

DISA.

The SOD also mentioned backporting the DISA framework to IP14/15. And that seems to materialize. Although it definitely slipped the December 2015 Patchset (14.13/15.7) for which it was initially targeted – the odds are that it will quite likely make it into the January 2016 Patchset (14.14/15.8).

So again, what’s this Desktop Integration Siebel Agent all about? Well, first of all it’s the must-have feature closing the important Siebel client-side integration gap. Especially because Google started deprecating the NPAPI in Chrome, Mozilla will follow deprecating NPAPI in Firefox later in 2016 and Microsoft’s Edge never had and never will have the capability.

DISA will be all about bringing Siebel OpenUI on-par with the old ‘high interactivity’ days where the Web Client Automation Server was a strong asset, enabling relatively easy client-side integrations with desktop applications and a Siebel user session.

DISA will be a local client-side running executable, which means it will only be available for Windows clients. The DISA will act as a Websocket-server, and because today all of the relevant browsers will support the Websocket protocol,  browsers running a Siebel OpenUI session can act as a Websocket-client. The framework will enable bi-directional, real-time communications between browsers.

Unsure whether at the time DISA will be released as backport from the under-development IP16 codeline is which of the features will be enabled alongside? I personally expect that initially the DISA framework as-is will be released, and that out-of-the-box enhancements such as listed below will be released gradually in subsequent patchsets.

DISA targeted features:

¬Ľ Email (F9) Integration with Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes
¬Ľ Invoke external email clients with F9 on Siebel Open UI
¬Ľ Populate email fields (To, CC, BCC) in external email clients
¬Ľ Use HTML templates to provide pre-defined, formatted email content
¬Ľ Send file attachments
¬Ľ Read & write files in agent’s local machines
¬Ľ CTI Hoteling feature
¬Ľ Ability to retrieve client machine IP address in Siebel Open UI Client
¬Ľ Outlook to Siebel Attachment Drag-and-Drop. Enables agents to drag an email from a Microsoft Outlook email client and drop it as a Siebel CRM file attachment
¬Ľ Inline attachment editing. Provides the capability for a user to open a file stored in the Siebel File System, make changes to the document using a location application (such as Microsoft Word), and then save and close the application with the new version automatically replacing the previous version in the Siebel File System.
¬Ľ Batch Fulfillment Printing
¬Ľ Allows Fulfillment Center personnel to select a set of Correspondence Requests and send them to a printer.

– Jeroen

 

Server busy, server busy, the server is very busy…

No need to explain that these infamous two words hide worlds of potential causes, if you happen to run a Siebel implementation. I got involved in a situation at one of my customers, where end-users were reporting end-less occurrences on the above mentioned. User’s reported to be kicked-out for no reason, often loosing in-flight data while having a customer on-call. The volume of reports was more than substantial, though initially real, objective measured figures were not available.

First and foremost focus in such situation should always be: are there any frequent object manager crashes? Unfortunately customer was not running the Server Task Persistence component, part of the Siebel Failure Diagnostics Framework which got introduced as part of Innovation Pack 2012. This out-of-the-box feature helps administrators analyzing crashes, and viewing key characteristics ‘comfortable’ from within the Siebel UI. So without going through the laborious process grabbing manually the call stack from the /bin directory and decoding the FDR files. Added ‘bonus’ is that you immediately know which users got affected by a specific crash.

Luckily, the background utility ‘siebprocdiag’ used by the Server Task Persistence component to gather the key details, can be also be run manually on a specific server using. Siebprocdiag will essentially cycle through all available .fdr files, decode them and relate them back to call stacks reported in the crash.txt file. The way in which siebprocdiag reports the results of its FDR analysis can be solid gold. It reports in the form of “user navigated to view ‘x’, invoked method ‘y’ on applet ‘z’ which in turn invoked business service ‘abc’ leading to a crash”.

Detailed output will be:

  • Siebel Server and server component names
  • Time of failure
  • Process, thread, and task IDs
  • Number of affected tasks
  • Last set of meaningful business processes that occurred at the time of the failure
  • Whether a new process was created, and if so, the list of current users impacted by the failure
  • A list of users whose sessions were lost following the failure
  • Content of the actual crash.txt file that was logged, which provides the call stack, register contents, and memory information

Well all said and done, we figured out there were crashes and a good number of them across all four Windows servers hosting Call center object managers. The use of siebprocdiag proved vital in quick root-cause analysis, it turned out a buggy business component definition leading to incomplete SQL statements being generated, that business component got introduced in the most recent SRF release.

But guess what, after all the object manager crashes ceased to exists after an emergency release – users kept reporting ‘server busy’. What was going on?

We started to increase ‘EventContext’ tracing, to get a better grip and to hopefully see some type of pattern. Unfortunately, that lead nowhere.

One step further we added ObjMgrSessionLog=5 and ProcessRequest=5 in order to trail the flow of events. At the same time we cranked-up SWSE monitoring per three usual system environment variables (SIEBEL_LOG_EVENTS = 4, SIEBEL_SESSMGR_TRACE = 1, SIEBEL_SISNAPI_TRACE = 1). Although SWSE tracing is flooded with irrelevant (no, what I mean is ‘benign’) traces, it typically can be well filtered based on SARM ID which can always correlate an Object manager task with SWSE tracing.

The SARM ID is printed in every line of a component log. The fact it correlated with SWSE tracing.

TaskConfig    TaskCfgParamInit    3    0000003c56710e30:0    2015-12-30 15:28:14    The Parameters for the current task (8405474) are :

Since the customer is running a high-available configuration including a set of hardware load-balanced web servers, we decided to temporarily by-pass the load-balancer. Luckily the vast majority of end-users are on Citrix, hence we able to provision a changed short-cut instantaneously. By-passing the load balancer we both could cancel-out the load-balancer  being potential culprit as well as analysing is simply easier on a single web server. Load-wise it should create no issue to run on a single leg temporarily.

Run a couple of hours, the incidents kept flowing in and pretty quickly we noticed this pattern:

ObjMgrSessionLog    ObjMgrLogin    3    00005710566f096c:0    2015-12-30 15:43:38    Username: XYZ, Login Status: Attempt,  Session Id: bP6I.5OZwhK.IxZSBDlRU3dYBTdk2UeLUkP8fk83cyQcXmEKcPnGWD4mUAYLDnQCtsMEDoCp8E6aDkhoXWRCgX-4QnqEWCECWJHyMZKAcVqMF6MI1szESLb78y05d7O-SIO8bmbJ2W5SFgJvqj8kD-V1Gx.zFc4hjxWshoKQSlg_, IP Address: xx.xx.xx.xx

Usually, if you spot “Login Status: Attempt” in the middle of a web session, it simply means a time-out. But under normal circumstances, the message in the log should be preceded by “SBL-SMI-00126: The session has timed out”. The “Login Status: Attempt” message, would in case of WebSSO ensure the user is logged-in automatically, after a session timout. Moreover, in case of a traditional time-out, you should be easily able to spot a gap in the log corresponding the the SessionTimeout configured on the web server (eapps.cfg).

After collecting during a good deal of a day we confirmed a couple of things:

  1. The message “Login Status: Attempt” (if not preceded by SBL-SMI-00126) clearly indicated a an ‘affected user’.
  2. Extrapolating on the occurrences we collected over the period of one hour on one single server, we found the issue to hit approximately every users two times their working day. Wow.

But the most intriguing fact: at the same time, groups of users got affected. Sometimes a little as 2, sometimes as many as 9. And these groups of users were always related to one specific object manger process Id.

This latter piece of information led us to believe a relationship with SISNAPI session multiplexing between SWSE and Siebel Servers. The SWSE multiplexes Siebel web client session over a pool of SISNAPI – which of course are just TCP/IP – connections. SWSE maintains a ‘pool’ of SISNAPI connections for each target object manager process. Multiplexing is defined by the SessPerSisn value on the object manager, and defaults to 20. The size of the pool is calculated by:

Max Tasks of the component / Max number of Object Manager multi-threads processes / SessPerSisn. This figure should lead to an integer value. So take Max Tasks = 200, MaxMTServers = 5 and the default SessPerSisn = 20 would lead to 2 SISNAPI connections for each multi-threaded process. I have to admit, in the past 15+ years I have never been required to tweak this value.

We verified these connections running “netstat -ano | find “2321”. The output contains a trailing column a PID, this PID related to the SiebService process on the target Siebel server. So basically you separate the output, and confirm the number of TCP/IP connections between SWSE and a particular Siebel Server.

netstat -ano | find “2131”
  TCP    53.53.53.29:2321      53.53.53.193:52207    ESTABLISHED     3464
  TCP    53.53.53.29:2321      53.53.53.193:52458    ESTABLISHED     3464
  TCP    53.53.53.29:2321      53.53.53.193:52680    ESTABLISHED     3464
  TCP    53.53.53.29:2321      53.53.53.193:52736    ESTABLISHED     3464

Anyways, working with the network team we ran a short while Wireshark between the SWSE and one specific Siebel Server. And since we could indicate second-close when an incident produced itself, Wireshark data could be filtered appropriately without being overwhelmed. And guess what? Spot-on, we found a match. It appeared that the Web server closed a TCP/IP connection with details: [RST, ACK, CWR]. The network team immediately noticed the uncommon “CWR” flag which was set on the Reset (RST) packet. CWR means ‘congestion window reduced’, which essentially is a mechanism for a sender to re-negotiate the window in which packets are being exchanged with the receiving party, to make it smaller because of perceived packet-loss or congestion.

A bit more details here, is that CWR has a related feature named ‘Explicit Congestion Notification’ or ECN. And interestingly, ECN is a feature which on Windows releases prior to Windows 2012 has been available, but default it has been always disabled. But with Windows 2012 the feature has been enabled by default. Since the network and infrastructure teams were not prone, disabling ECN because they felt the applications should be resilient we considered changing SessPerSisn.

Theoretically: lowering SessPerSisn would increase the number of SISNAPI connections, and likely lowering the possibility of congestion on one specific TCP/IP connections. At the same time, we would be reducing the number of users impacted. Side-effect of lowering SessPerSisn would be increased memory foot-print for the SWSE plugin plus additional OS memory overhead for both Web servers as well as Siebel Servers. Additional memory for the SWSE plugin should be approximately 1 Mb / SISNAPI connection. Additional OS memory was estimate to be 100 KB / connection. In the customer’s setup that would not accumulate to huge figures.

Decision was made to lower SessPerSisn from default ’20’ to ’10’ – so basically doubling the number of TCP/IP connections. The change got implemented, and seems to have the looked-for effect. The ‘Server Busy’ messages have not been seen anymore!

Now – the story is not over and done for me. Some questions need still to be answered from Oracle’s side:

  1. Should we recommend other values for SessPerSisn for Windows 2012+ implementations?
  2. How to effectively ‘measure’ what an appropriate value for SessPerSisn should be. It’s appreciated that doubling the number of SISNAPI connections seems to work, but it would be good if it could be pro-actively monitored when congestion lingers.

– Jeroen