Migrating from Oracle Portal 10g to Oracle APEX

Migrating from Oracle Portal 10g to Oracle Application Express (APEX)

There are several enterprises that are currently running the Oracle 10g middleware platform for their front-end applications. They have Oracle Portal 10g or prior versions delivering content for their Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, and Oracle Discoverer based applications, all running on Oracle Application Server (OAS) 10g. Many of these OAS 10g environments also run Oracle Internet Directory (OID) 10g and Oracle Single Sign-On (OSSO) 10g. Oracle provides a supported and easily repeatable upgrade path for Oracle Database 11g, however, the upgrade of components running on OAS 10g moving to Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS) 11g is not quite as straightforward. Oracle Forms 11g and Reports 11g upgrade from their OAS predecessors to WLS 11g-based products. Oracle Portal 10g also has a WLS 11g-based upgrade path to Portal 11g, but it inherently has more components and complexities. Moreover, Oracle’s investment in Portal technology for the past years has been in Oracle WebCenter (as opposed to continuing the Oracle Portal product line), so any investment in implementing Oracle Portal 11g must be carefully examined as it will likely need to be replatformed to another technology in the relatively near future. It should be noted that Oracle WebCenter is considerably more expensive than Oracle Portal from a licensing perspective.

Most of all, the client saved well over $500,000 by way of licensing fees and other related costs…

There is another challenge these enterprises often face related to the Security Platform they are running. Most enterprises that have the Oracle 10g suite of products listed above, use Oracle Single Sign-On (OSSO) 10g and Oracle Internet Directory (OID) 10g as their identity store. While Oracle still supports these products to work with their Fusion Middleware 11g stack, this path leads enterprises towards an imminent migration to Oracle Identity and Access Management 11g suite of products which again is an expensive proposition.

M&S recently provided a low-cost solution to a client that faced this conundrum. They were running Portal 10g, Forms 10g, and Reports 10g, along with OID 10g and OSSO 10g. Options were proposed along with pros and cons. A proof of concept was conducted. In the end, Team M&S successfully migrated the Portal 10g-based application to an Oracle Application Express (APEX) 4.2-based application, built from the ground up. M&S redesigned the Oracle SSO 10g / OID 10g based security to a combination of the APEX built-in identity store, APEX SSO security, and customized APEX authentication to the client’s existing Active Directory (AD). The client’s Oracle forms 10g and Reports 10g applications were also migrated to 11g and seamlessly secured with APEX out-of-the-box security.

For those that are unfamiliar, Oracle APEX is a built-in (no-additional-cost) feature of the Oracle Database that is a very flexible platform to build web (and mobile-friendly) applications using a browser. It offers features far more modern than Oracle Portal 10g at application creation, development, and end-user experience levels. However, there is a gap in translating the Portal 10g-based application’s metadata and configurability into the APEX platform.

The two key challenges were:

  1. Mimic a portal platform by providing ability to create content pages, tabs, and portlets and provide necessary tools to administer these.
  2. Securing the forms / reports applications using the same session and single sign-on that secures the APEX pages so that there is a seamless transition between APEX, the Forms and Reports.

The M&S solution provided the visual appeal of a slick modern Web Application, the configurability features that exceeded Oracle Portal 10g abilities, and a quality security and single sign-on solution with much less a black-box environment than was previously being maintained. Most of all, the client saved well over $500,000 by way of licensing fees and other related costs of replatforming onto WebCenter or non-Oracle solutions that were initially under consideration.

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