Florida State University has used automation to leverage Deployment Packages (DPKs) to manage the PeopleSoft infrastructure. Additionally, they have used PeopleSoft delivered frameworks such as Event Mapping, Page and Field Configurator, and Drop Zones to reduce customizations and improve development cycles. Additionally, they have leveraged the PeopleSoft Branding Framework to configure the look and feel of the applications with minimal customizations seamlessly and consistently.
Florida State University (FSU) is a preeminent university that is ranked No. 19 among national public universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In addition to their academic rankings they are also one of the most efficient universities as defined by U.S. News & World Report. With IT being a strong catalyst for efficiency gains, FSU’s central IT organization, Information Technology Services (ITS), focuses on driving efficiencies internally as well as across the institution. Recently, efficiencies were gained in the delivery of mission critical applications such as Human Resources, Payroll, Finance and Student Administration.
Florida State University (FSU) has leveraged automation to use Deployment Packages (DPKs) and made the deployment of PeopleSoft infrastructure of our highly customized environments as seamless, efficient and error-free as possible.
PeopleSoft DPKs functionality has fully automated the installation process and vastly reduced the infrastructure setup time. When running the infrastructure install, the DPKs handle all the ‘vanilla’ components automatically: install WebLogic, Tuxedo, JDK and PeopleTools, deploy and configure the domains, and then boot the domain. Simply running DPKs will result in the entire server infrastructure being setup, booted and running in a matter of minutes via two commands.
The challenge with this process is that in a highly customized environment like FSU, there are still many custom steps to be handled. Even using DPKs, the process can once again be bogged down by the manual post-steps of introducing and applying all the FSU customizations.
Our goal with DPKs was to keep the process fully automated—no additional human interaction after configuration information has been added to the DPKs and the command run to initiate the deployments. In order to achieve this, we configured the DPKs scripts to add several custom FSU steps. These extensions include setting permissions correctly, adding custom directories, adding customizations and values to other files not updated by the delivered DPKs, installing third-party products (e.g., Appsian, SmartERP, GT eForms), adding FSU custom SSO configuration and updating WebLogic console settings. Effectively, once the DPKs deployment process completes and the domains are booted, they are fully configured and ready to go with all FSU customizations in place. Developing these capabilities was a huge automation effort performed by our PeopleSoft Admin team.
One benefit of this implementation is that DPKs configurations are reusable. Once correct configurations are setup, those same values and configurations will be applied consistently every time, eliminating the potential for human error and oversight. Long term, we expect patching and application upgrades to be far simpler, quicker and more streamlined. This will allow us to achieve the goal of being able to quickly patch all applications every quarter in an expedited and reliable fashion.
FSU has an objective to reduce our customization footprint over time and thereby simplify our maintenance processes and reduce technical debt. We are leveraging delivered frameworks across all PeopleSoft applications at FSU, including Campus Solutions, HCM and FSCM, to move away from customizations and start using configurations to achieve our long-term goal of streamlining our maintenance and development processes.
FSU leverages Branding Framework available in PeopleTools to configure the look and feel of the applications with minimal customizations. Similarly, when we take updates from PeopleSoft applications via PUM, we regularly use the opportunity to review our customizations and move them to configurations, where applicable, by leveraging Event Mapping, Page and Field Configurator, Drop Zones and other components.
In support of our quest to drive operational efficiencies, maximize delivered PeopleSoft functionality and reduce our technical debt, we have embraced DPKs and other PeopleSoft Frameworks. The two initiatives described above have allowed FSU to automate and streamline the deployment of PeopleTools upgrades, patching and application updates. This provides direct efficiencies with respect to time, resources, consistency, security and reliability. Moreover, these initiatives also prepare us for the future if and when we are considering a shift towards cloud infrastructure and software offerings.