Migrating Your Enterprise-Level Oracle Solution to the Cloud? Key Benefits and Drawbacks of Amazon Web Services and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

There are a plethora of cloud platforms available to Enterprise-level companies that are exploring options for migrating their current Oracle solution to a cloud environment. While we won’t name them all, a typical shortlist is going to include platforms familiar to us all: Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Oracle’s own Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

In this blog post, we’re going to break down some of the key benefits and drawbacks of migrating your Oracle solution to two of the giants in the industry – Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Key Benefits and Drawbacks of OCI

Being a cloud-based platform, migrating to OCI also includes several essential benefits common to cloud environments, including:

  •  – More streamlined performance
  •  – Automatic software updates
  •  – Scalability
  •  – Disaster Recovery

Oracle utilizes some of the most advanced technologies to deploy its fully autonomous and scalable Autonomous Data Warehouse and Autonomous Transaction Processing for data warehousing and OLTP workloads, respectively. These technologies support the more advanced Oracle database features such as RAC, Data Guard, Redaction, Encryption, etc.

Another core benefit of choosing OCI as your Cloud platform of choice; the traditional data maintenance/migration utilities like Golden Gate, Data Guard, RMAN, etc. are supported on the Database as a Service offering.

So, how does it differ from AWS? A key differentiator from AWS, the autonomous and advanced features of Oracle databases, is only available on OCI.

It can’t be all benefits though; OCI also has its specific drawbacks. Chiefly, OCI services tend to have a high licensing cost, which can make OCI cost-prohibitive for small to medium workloads – and by extension – small and medium businesses.

Also, OCI’s lack of a live chat feature with skilled support personnel can mean a frustrating troubleshooting experience for companies making the migration to OCI.

Key Benefits and Drawbacks of AWS

As a longstanding leader in the Cloud technology space, AWS has built a strong reputation as a trusted cloud-partner for thousands of Enterprise companies. Plus, they have one of the most robust cloud-based offerings on the market through their AWS ecosystem.

When it comes to supporting Oracle on a cloud environment, AWS has integrated Oracle databases as part of its main Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) offering. Amazon RDS is provided as part of the managed service and includes a reasonably comprehensive list of features that complement the base functionality of Oracle.

These features include:

  •  – Additional monitoring and metrics
  •  – Managed deployments for software patching and push-button scaling
  •  – Automated backup

AWS also provides an opportunity for companies to review their Enterprise Edition license, as it delivers similar technologies to Oracle’s Tuning and Diagnostic Packs as part of the base license.

So, what are the drawbacks of using AWS to support your Oracle Cloud migration? The most critical disadvantage of AWS is that it has the potential to be difficult and expensive to run some of the more robust oracle features found in Oracle Enterprise, including Data Guard, Management Packs, and Advanced Security. Something to keep in mind if you are using these additional features.

AWS or OCI, Which Is Right for You?

There is no single right answer. Both platforms have their advantages and their drawbacks when it comes to supporting your business’s cloud-based Oracle needs. The “right” platform will be the one that best supports your specific business criteria.

If at any time you have questions concerning your specific cloud migration needs, please reach out to TekStream. Our team of Oracle experts has years of proven experience navigating the cloud-migration needs of our partners.

We also encourage you to download our eBook, “Taking Oracle to the Cloud: Key Considerations and Benefits for Migrating Your Enterprise Oracle Database to the Cloud” for even more information on how best to approach an Oracle cloud migration.

 

If you’d like to talk to someone from our team, fill out the form below.

TekStream Solutions Makes Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2020 List

TekStream has been named to Inc. magazine’s annual list of the Best Workplaces for 2020. Hitting newsstands May 12 in the May/June 2020 issue, and as part of a prominent Inc.com feature, the list is the result of a wide-ranging and comprehensive measurement of private American companies that have created exceptional workplaces through vibrant cultures, deep employee engagement, and stellar benefits.

This year there were more than 370,000 employee surveys distributed to over 2,500 companies for the 2020 Best Workplaces award. With 99% of our employees stating they were engaged in their work, we are unbelievably proud of the culture we’ve built here at TekStream.  Further, being one of four, medium-sized businesses in the State of Georgia to make the list, we are honored for this achievement given the immense talent and number of companies in Metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas,” said TekStream Chief Executive Officer, Rob Jansen.

Collecting data from more than 2,500 submissions, Inc. singled out 389 finalists for this year’s list. Each nominated company took part in an employee survey, conducted by Quantum Workplace, on topics including trust, management effectiveness, perks, and confidence in the future. Inc. gathered, analyzed, and audited the data. Then we ranked all the employers using a composite score of survey results. This year, 73.5 percent of surveyed employees were engaged by their work.

“We are always proud of any award received for TekStream’s accomplishments, but being recognized on the 2020 Inc. Best Workplaces list is especially noteworthy as it is reflective of the diverse team we have assembled and the positive experience they are having in executing Recruiting and Technology Deployment solutions. We look forward to continuing to build an environment and culture that is deserving of future recognition,” said TekStream Executive Vice President of Talent Management and Recruiting Services, Mark Gannon.

At Tekstream, our culture is built on the following values:

  • Simply put, we’re a family
    • We’re a team consisting of people who are passionate about understanding business needs and driving results. We’re innovators, executors, strategizers, builders, learners, and competitors.
  • We play to win
    • We emphasize working with a sense of urgency and value high performance. We work hard and play hard.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work
    • We seek to inspire, uplift, and ignite the fire within each employee. We value teamwork and recognition for going above and beyond. We empower employees to stretch and grow.
  • Excellence drives us forward
    • We are specialists in what we do and subsequently bring a level of expertise that is second-to-none in the industry.
  • Honestly, it’s the right way or not at all
    • We’re firmly grounded in fundamental, honest business ethics. We’re big believers in transparency; we tell it how it is.

“Impressive revenue growth is certainly important, but it’s a real honor to have the employees voice that Tekstream is one of the best places to work.  Whether we’re a 3 person company in 2011 or a 300 person company in 2021, it’s the core values and the employees that keep us heading in the right direction,” stated Executive Vice President of Sales, Judd Robins.

“TekStream is a great place to work. There are many opportunities provided from personal development to team bonding, to giving back to the community. I feel like I have a lot of flexibility in my job and that personal/family time is valued. I also feel like individual opinions and contributions are valued. Like any organization, we do have some challenges. However, the company does an excellent job at listening to concerns/challenges and working to come to solutions, which is imperative to a successful organization” said one employee surveyed.

Need help on a project? Contact us today!

WFR(ee) Things A Customer Can Do To Improve Extraction

By: William Phelps | Senior Technical Architect

 

When using Oracle Forms Recognition(“OFR”)  or WebCenter Forms Recognition(“WFR”) with the Oracle Solution Accelerator or Inspyrus, clients often engage consulting companies (like TekStream) to fine-tune extraction of invoice data.  Depending on the desired data to extract from the invoice, the terms “confidence”, “training”, and “scripting” are often used in discussing and designing the solution.  While these techniques justifiably have their place, it may be overkill in many situations.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, that you may already be using WFR.  However, the extraction isn’t as good as desired.  You may have been using it for quite a while, with less-than-optimal results.

In reality, there are several no-cost options that a customer can (and should) perform before considering ANY changes to a WFR project file or attempting to bring in consulting.  This approach is the “don’t step over a dollar to pick up a dime” approach.  Many seemingly impossible extraction issues are truly and purely data-related, and in all likelihood, these basic steps are going to be needed anyway as part of any solution.  There is a much greater potential return on investment by simply doing the boring work of data cleanup before engaging consulting.

The areas for free improvement should begin by answering the following questions:

  1. Does the vendor address data found in the ERP match the address for the vendor found on the actual invoice image?
  2. Is the vendor-defined in the ERP designated as a valid pay site?
  3. In the vendor data, are intercompany and employee vendors correctly marked/identified?
  4. Do you know the basic characteristics of a PO number used by your company?
  5. Are the vendors simply sending bad quality invoice images?

Vendor Address Considerations

The absolute biggest free boost that a customer can do to increase extraction is to actually look at the invoice image for the vendor, and compare the address found on the invoice to the information stored in the ERP.  WFR looks at the zip code and address line as key information points.  Mismatches in the ERP data will lower the extraction success rate.  This affects both PO and non-PO invoice vendor extraction from an invoice.

To illustrate this point at a high level, let’s use some basic data tools found within the Oracle database for testing.  The “utl_match” packages will work to get a basic feel for how seemingly minor string differences can affect calculations.

Using utl.match.edit_distance_similarity in a simple query, two strings can be compared as to how similar the first string is to the second.  A higher return value indicates a closer match.

  • This first example shows the result when a string (“expresso”) is compared to itself, which unsurprisingly returns 100.

  • Changing just one letter can affect the calculation in a negative direction. Here, the second letter of the word is changed from an “x” to an “s”.  Note the decrease in the calculation.

  • The case in the words can matter to a degree as well for this comparison. Simply changing the first letter to uppercase will result in a similar reduction.

  • Using the Jaro Winkler function, which tries to account for data entry errors, the results are slightly better when changing from “x” to “s”.

Let’s now move away from theory.  In more of a real-world example, consider the following zip code strings, where the first zip code is a zip + 4 that may be found on the invoice by WFR, and the second zip code is the actual value recorded in the ERP.

In the distance similarity test, the determination is that the strings are 50/50 in resemblance.

However, Jaro Winkler is a bit more forgiving.  There is a difference, but it’s closer to matching both values.

The illustrations above are purely representative and do not reflect the exact process used by WFR to assign “confidence”.  However, it’s a very good illustration to visually highlight the impact of data accuracy.

The takeaway from this ERP data quality discussion should be that small differences in data between what appears on the invoice compared to the data found in the ERP matters.  This data cleanup is “free” in the sense that the customer can (and should) undertake this operation without using consulting dollars.

Both the Inspyrus and Oracle Accelerator implementation of the WFR project leverage a custom vendor view in the ERP.

  • Making sure this view returns all of the valid vendors is critical for correct identification of the vendor. A vendor that is not found in this view cannot be found by WFR – plain and simple since the WFR process collects and stores the vendor information for processing.
  • Also, be sure in this view to filter out intercompany and employee vendor records. These vendor types are typically handled differently, and the addresses of these kinds of vendors typically appear as the bill-to address on an invoice.  Your company address appearing multiple times on the invoice can lead to false positives.
  • In EBS, there is a concept of “pay sites”. A “pay site” is where the vendor/vendor site combination is valid for accepting payments and purchases.  Be sure to either configure the vendor/vendor site combination as a pay site, or look to remove the vendor from the vendor view.

PO Number Considerations

On a similar path, take a good look at your purchase order number information.  WFR operates on the concept of looking for string patterns that may/may not be representative of your organization’s PO number structure.  For example, when describing the characteristics of your company’s PO numbers, these are some basic questions you should answer:

  • How long are our PO numbers? 3 characters? 4 characters? 5 or more characters? A mix?  What is that mix?
  • Do our PO numbers contain just digits? Or letters and digits? Other special characters?
  • Do our PO numbers start with a certain sequence? For example, do our PO numbers always start with 2 random letters? Or two fixed letters like “AB”? Or three characters like “X2Z”?

Answering this seeming basic set of questions allows WFR to be configured to only consider the valid combinations.

  • By discarding the noise candidates, better identification and extraction of PO number data can occur.
  • More accurate PO number extractions can lead to increased efficiency inline data extraction, since the PO data from the ERP can be leveraged/paired, and can lead to better vendor extraction since the vendor can be set based on the PO number.

Avoid trying to be too general with this exercise.  Trying to cast too wide of a net will actually make things worse.  Simply saying “our PO numbers are all numbers 7 to 10 digits long” will result in configurations that pick up zip codes, telephone numbers, and other noise strings. If the number of variations is too many, concentrate on vendors using the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the invoices come from 20% of the vendor base.

General Invoice Quality

Now, one might think “I cannot tell the vendor what kind of invoice to send.”  That’s not an accurate statement at all.  If explained correctly, and provided with a proper incentive, the vendor will typically work to send better invoices.  WFR is very forgiving, but not perfect, and looking at the items in the following list will help.

  • Concentrate initially on the vendors who send in high volumes of invoices.
  • Make sure the invoices are good quality images containing no extra markings on the image that is covering key data, like PO numbers, invoice numbers, dates, total amount, etc.
  • Types of marks could be handwriting, customs stamps, tax identification stamps, mailroom stamps, or other non-typed or machine-generated characters. Dirty rollers on scanners can leave a line across the image.

Hopefully, this article will give an idea of the free things that can be done to increase the efficiency of WFR.

Want to learn more? Contact us today!