DPK 101

DPK 101

What is a DPK?

Lately, you may have been hearing more and more about PeopleSoft Deployment Packages, or DPKs

But, what’s all the buzz?

The DPK is the new method to deliver PeopleSoft Images and PeopleTools patches in a fully self contained package, which can easily be installed, configured and started with minimal effort in a repeatable, consistent manner.  This makes the process to get new images and PeopleTools versions easier for System Administrators, Developers, Business Analysts, or really anyone interested in spinning up a PeopleSoft application. The DPK will create the database and build and configure Application Servers, Web Servers and Process Schedulers.  According to Oracle, by using DPKs you can deploy a full PeopleSoft application, including Application Servers, Web Servers and Process Schedulers in under 30 minutes.

Oracle introduces and describes the DPK in a blog post of their own as follows:

With PeopleSoft 8.55, configuration is centralized with the Cloud Deployment Architecture (CDA).  Deployment Packages (DPK) are a new delivery mechanism provided with PeopleTools 8.55 (for use with Linux and Windows operating systems). Deployment Packages contain all the software created by PeopleSoft as well as the required components pre-installed and fully patched, along with a deployment and configuration automation system. In addition, all Update Images delivered after 8.55 will also take advantage of the Deployment Framework, and will be comprised of Deployment Packages.  DPKs have three parts:

    • Binaries based on platform: Middleware binaries for Application Server runtime Tuxedo, Web Servers - Weblogic, PeopleSoft binaries (PS_HOME), database, Client binaries, etc.
    • Puppet-based automation for installation and deployment of middleware - The PeopleSoft Puppet modules provide automation for setting up the middleware, deployment of PeopleTools binaries and configuration of Application server and Web Server domains.  (For detailed information on Puppet see puppet.com, and docs.puppetlabs.com)
    • ACM - Automated Configuration Manager to configure PeopleSoft components like Integration Broker, Secure Search, Process Scheduler etc.

PeopleSoft DPK Flow

 

There are two types of DPKs:

  • PeopleTools DPK – These files available to download for PeopleTools patch can be used to deploy all tiers of PeopleSoft architecture except the database.
  • Application DPK – Application DPK files are available to download as PeopleSoft Image files. Application DPKs can be used to deploy a fully functional PS application including Database.

Benefits of Using DPKs

You may be thinking, “Great.  Looks nice, but what’s in it for us?”

Oracle’s method of providing PeopleTools and PeopleSoft Images in a consistent manner makes it easier for institutions to quickly acquire and implement the latest codeline and patches for their PeopleSoft installations.  With that said, starting with PeopleTools 8.56, Oracle has also extended the DPK delivery method to include AIX and Solaris, making this process available to even more customers. The process around DPKs is repeatable, which builds confidence in the ability to use this new delivery method.  It’s also customizable, so institutions can apply their own logic/configuration when deploying a DPK. This ability adds to the strength of Oracle’s tools, allowing institutional configurations to be applied consistently from DPK to DPK.

Not only can specific configurations be applied, admins can extend the Puppet and Hiera framework to deploy the DPKs in ways which are most beneficial to their institution without having to do much, if any, post installation work. The DPK provides confidence in the installation and patching process.

In addition to being fast, consistent and customizable, DPKs open the doors for administrators to pursue, or expand on, automation in their PeopleSoft applications. Because DPKs use Puppet and Hiera, they provide a foundation which can be leveraged outside the Oracle DPK process, or as connections into the DPK process from existing automation.

The automation that DPKs provide when building environments can be leverage by organizations who run on-premise applications; its not a cloud-specific technology. But for institutions who are looking at the cloud, the DPK’s ability to quickly build PeopleSoft environments will help you leverage the dynamic scaling that cloud servers provide.

Last, though probably not least, DPKs have simplified the once complex process to install a PeopleSoft application.  By doing so, Oracle has made it possible for nearly anyone to spin up an environment to do such things as evaluate new functionality, test new configurations and even do development in a controlled location.

While the DPK delivery provides many benefits to admins and even those power users and developers who may want to spin up their own instances of an application, there are also a few nuances to the process.  First, when Oracle releases their quarterly Critical Patch Updates (CPUs), the PeopleTools DPK typically does not contain the version of Weblogic specified in the CPU.  Administrators will need to download the Weblogic patch explicitly and apply independently of the PeopleTools DPK.  Second, Application DPKs are delivered on the most recent PeopleTools release. For those institutions not on the current PeopleTools major release, this does produce an inconsistency between PUM Images and the lifecycle environments.

The DPKs are also great at building generic PeopleSoft environments, but to make the DPK build an environment that mimics your current setup may take some time to build out Puppet code. The DPK provides a flexible setup where you can add your own DPK code to build an exact copy of your existing environments. It’s not an overnight process, but investing time into the DPK will provide faster and more consistent deployments of your environments and free your team to focus on value-add activities.

Though there are some “gotchas” when using DPKs, these are generally not show stoppers for learning how to use them, and eventually adopting the process within an institution.  The small considerations which may come into play are in most cases outweighed by the benefits of this new delivery method for the PeopleTools and Applications updates.

Best Practices for Getting Started

The best place to get started working with DPKs is to review Oracle’s Deployment Package Online Libraries, which exist for PeopleTools 8.55 and 8.56.

These documents will walk you through the steps to download and install a DPK using the Oracle process. They offer insight into the various layers of the DPK, the tools involved, system requirements and more.  With these, you should be able to walk through the process from start to finish.

Want to Learn More?

There are plenty of resources available online to learn more about DPKs, how to use them, as well as how to customize and extend them.

Oracle has many offerings on www.oracle.com and MOS which you can find by searching the term “Deployment Package” or “DPK”.

Aside from Oracle’s own documentation, there are various independent sources of information available.  The psadmin.io community is one such location to find valuable information, including their free offering “PeopleSoft Deployment Package Quickstart”

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