Our beloved PeopleSoft (yes, I like PeopleSoft, so what?) is clearly not a SaaS application. Still, my point of view is that we can still benefit of many cloud computing features without migrating to another application.
On this post, and a few more to come, I will focus on the aspects of cloud computing could be incorporated to your PeopleSoft application.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use basis.
Probably the best known service in this category is Amazon EC2, but there are many other providers with similar features. We have installed PeopleSoft quite a few times under Amazon EC2, and the advantages are visible immediately:
- CPU, memory and disk space can be dynamically allocated. This is particularly useful when facing system usage peaks, for instance close to the evaluations submission deadline when using the PeopleSoft ePerformance module.
- Servers can be seamlessly cloned, which enormously reduces the time needed to set up new environments.
- The instance cloning can also take place between different geographical areas, providing a perfect solution for contingency environments.
- As mentioned before, the allocated servers are paid on a per-use basis. The only exception is storage, for which you will get charged even if the server is down (and assuming you still keep the storage space busy for the next time the instance is booted).
Use Case: Development Environments
One of the most typical uses of IaaS with PeopleSoft is for non-production environments. In many cases, these environments do not need to be up and running 24x7, so the solution provided by Infrastructure as a Service is not only more flexible, but also normally more cost effective.
The flexibility of IaaS is major advantage when a sandbox environment is needed. Cloning any existing environment just takes a few minutes allowing the developers to build prototypes on a new and isolated environment that is out of the migration path.
Use Case: Test a New Release
Another functionality of IaaS is the ability to use templates that could be rapidly be used to create a new instance based on it. The Amazon name for these templates is AMI. In the past, Oracle used to provide AMIs for PeopleSoft 9.1, so if you wanted to test that release, it was just a couple of minutes away.
However, currently there are no AMIs provided by Oracle for PeopleSoft 9.2. Luckily, you may still contact consulting companies like BNB to provide you the AMI, as long as you have a valid PeopleSoft license (the Oracle provided AMIs are under a trial license, so even if you are not currently a PeopleSoft customer you can use them).
Note: An alternative way to test a new release is to download the latest PeopleSoft Update Manager image, but it takes considerable time to do it due to the size of the files (over 30 Gb).
Use Case: Training
IaaS can also be used to quickly deploy PeopleSoft instances for internal user training. We actually use this approach at BNB for training our consultants. We have created an AMI for each course, so before the training session starts, we create one instance per student, so they have a completely isolated environment to learn and play with.
In the next post, I will cover the value that cloud computing brings to PeopleSoft Production environments. But that's not the end of it, so stay tuned.