Thursday, 26 March 2020

These 3 tricks will help you minimise Oracle EBS testing & patch implementation costs

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If you are running Oracle ERP applications without any test automation to help your teams, your headaches get bigger with every passing quarter. Oracle releases a few hundred critical patches for its suite of ERP products including JD Edwards, EBS, Sebel and others.

Applying, and even not applying, a patch to your Oracle EBS system has associated costs.

What is the cost of not applying patches to Oracle EBS systems?

Most Oracle EBS patches include bug fixes that have been commonly reported across all of Oracle's EBS customers. On the odd occasion Oracle will release a feature in its patches with which it tries to nudge its customers towards adopting something new that it is trying to roll out.

In this day and age, the most important reason to apply Oracle patches in a timely manner is to close newly discovered and exploitable security vulnerabilities that were shipped with a previous patch or within the core EBS system.

By not applying EBS patches, you are playing chicken with hackers who are eager to exploit your EBS system's security vulnerabilities. Especially when you consider that 64% of IT decision makers have reported that their ERP systems have been breached between 2017 and 2019.

The cost of this is difficult to quantify, because it depends of the size of your organisation and the importance of the records that your EBS system houses. But if your organisation is running Oracle EBS then it's fair to assume that it's at least a mid-sized company and so minimum loss projections of $50,000 per working hour appear be a fair estimate.

Remember, the above figure isn't just because of downtime due to security breaches. That figure relates to ANY downtime, including those caused by functional bugs that render your EBS system unusable.

So are you prepared to lose $50,000 per hour just because you didn't apply the EBS patches that Oracle released for your system?

Why are Oracle EBS patches not applied immediately by organisations?

The most commonly cited reason for not apply EBS patches comes down to the maintenance cost of ensuring that everything in your EBS system is working as expected after it has been patched. This is a very real concern, especially for EBS systems that have been heavily customised over the years.

If you are not up-to-date with your EBS patch schedule then you might identify with these common reasons for why organisations don't apply their EBS patches in a timely manner.
  • EBS customisations have not followed the Oracle standards and so will need to modified after a patch is applied.
  • Migrating customisations across environments can be time consuming and error prone, especially if the point above is true.
  • EBS 12.2.x runs on WebLogic and you may not have the sufficient WebLogic expertise on your team.
  • Production-outage time associated with an upgrade cannot be mitigated because of a lack of sufficient test and pre-prod environments.
Oracle EBS maintenance costs usually blow out in organisations that have not invested in enough automation. If you read the reasons above and found yourself nodding your head, then then the following 3 tricks to minimising the cost of EBS maintenance and patching could revolutionise the standard of functionality and user experience that you provide to your end-users.

Trick 1: Invest in end-to-end Oracle EBS test automation

Most IT decisions are heavily influenced by the price tag. Many organisations that run EBS but don't have test automation for it cite the exorbitant cost of EBS testing tools like OATS and UFT. Those tools are undoubtedly expensive to buy, expensive to run and it is expensive to find the right skills to operate them.

Thankfully, there are a couple of modern automated software testing tools that make test automation for Oracle EBS systems a lot easier and quicker to implement. Most importantly, our Qsome test automation tool even solves the stumbling block of automating tests for Oracle Forms and its various other Java Applet-based features.

The key to selecting the right automated software testing tool for EBS is to ensure that you don't have to host the testing infrastructure. Maintaining the infrastructure for EBS testing tools can often be as expensive over time as buying the testing tool's licenses in the first place.

Trick 2: Select on Oracle EBS test automation tool that can test cross-application workflows

You'll agree that your Oracle EBS system no longer operates in a vacuum - it collects data from and feeds data to other digital applications that are used by your company's customers, employees and vendors. That's why your EBS testing team needs the ability to automate true "end-to-end" tests.

The key to building cross-application automated tests is ensuring that a each test model where necessary, using multiple scripts (ideally 1 per user interface), can simulate a real user workflow. Most Oracle EBS testing tools can test a function within EBS. Very few can actually help you comprehensively test a real user journey that traverses EBS and other interfacing digital applications.

The Qsome Oracle EBS test automation tool is one of those few testing tools that provides this functionality "out-of-the-box." The best part is that Qsome is a cloud-based, continuous testing tool that has a specific Computer Vision based framework for EBS testing.

The reason you want to be able to regression test cross-application workflows is simple: when one application in your environment is changed, there is a good chance not only that its own features are broken, but also that connectivity with other applications is also affected.

If your EBS testing tool is only able to test EBS, then you have to bring in another tool that can test interlinked workflows. It should be obvious that this situation adds complexity. Where complexity rises, so do costs. If for no other reason than this, you need a testing tool that allows you to automate testing for all types of applications in your environment.

Trick 3: Incorporate your EBS releases into your DevOps pipeline

The longer you separate your EBS delivery from delivery of your other applications, the more your software testing costs will spiral. Spiralling testing costs are the reason you came here in the first place and are probably also the reason that you are delaying implementing recommended EBS patches. So you are able to get two birds with one stone when you implement this trick.

The best automated software testing tools have the necessary functionality to plug into DevOps pipelines. Automating your EBS deployments will undoubtedly take some work and investment up front, especially if your organisation is starting from scratch. However, if you take this step as an IT decision-maker you will eventually make your IT budget go further and improve functionality and user experience for your end-users.

If you want to see how a purpose-built EBS testing tool could work in your environment and for a free trial, schedule your demo today.

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