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integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

Tag: software

Oracle software audits: What you need to know

May 2nd, 2017

Recently, a company in Oklahoma told us about their experience being audited by Oracle. They were long-time Oracle users, and had never previously been audited.

Over the course of many years, their company’s IT personnel installed and ran various Oracle programs, but never performed a self-audit to check for appropriate licensing.

For this client, years of installing new features without referring back to their licensing agreement with Oracle ended up costing them a lot of money. $200,000 to be exact.

This is a common problem we see. Often, businesses install Oracle software, and as their IT needs change, install more software. However, during the installation process, there are specific boxes that get checked, allowing for greater functionality that is over and above what’s provided in the business’ original software license with Oracle.

This cycle gets repeated. Over time, this leads to major (and expensive) problems during an audit.

Here’s what you need to know in order to prevent an expensive penalty from an Oracle software audit.

Oracle’s honor system

Unlike Microsoft systems, Oracle’s software can be installed based on an honor system. Oracle does not require a key code to install their product.

While this allows for ease of use at install, it can also allow users to inadvertently install features they may or may not need, and which may or may not be included in their licensing agreement.

Oracle does perform random audits of users. If a user (business) is found to be using software or features without the proper licensing, Oracle charges a penalty based on what the user would have paid if they bought the appropriate license in the first place.

Be the skeptic

Any time your team is installing new software, be the skeptic. Teach your IT people that it’s okay to question whether a new feature is included in the license.

Always refer back to the licensing agreement for comparison. If something isn’t clear, be proactive and reach out to Oracle or an approved Oracle vendor, like LSG Solutions, with any questions.

Self-audit

Get your IT staff in the routine of preforming self-audits. Compare the current software running with your licensing agreement to see if there are any gaps.

If gaps are discovered, ask questions such as:

  • Is this feature being used?
  • Why was this feature turned on or installed?
  • Should we purchase the appropriate license or uninstall the item?

As always, LSG Solutions is ready to help your organization with any needs related to Oracle software licensing. Some of our clients will self-audit and then ask us to assist in verifying the information, which we’re happy to do.

Though we are an Oracle Value-added Reseller in Oklahoma, our relationship with our customers is paramount. We’re not the Oracle police. We don’t report customer information back to Oracle. But we will help you get back in compliance, so you won’t face a huge penalty if Oracle audits your company.

Please contact us at 405-285-2500 or our contact form for questions and other assistance.

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New Oracle 12c R2 features for on-premise customers

April 22nd, 2017

At LSG Solutions, a key part of our work is anticipating new releases from Oracle and defining how they will help our customers. One such release, Oracle's 12c Release 2 (also known as detailed release 12.2.0.1), is now available for on-premise customers.

Previously only available to cloud customers, this version's new features continue Oracle's commitment to streamlining systems for business.

Here are a few important features included in this release.

Hot Cloning

In this version, there is no need to put the source into read-only for cloning. You can refresh a clone and relocate a PDB. This allows for a smoother software development cycle, as well as more efficient integration and delivery.

Expanded Partitioning

Without impacting current DML operations, 12.2.0.1 allows you to convert non-partitioned tables to partitioned tables online. They can also be set to read-only status to prevent inadvertent DML action.

These expanded partitioning features increase the manageability of various applications and continue to drive down the cost for storing volumes of data.

Vault Simulation Mode Protection

Security continues to be a top priority in this version. Vault simulation mode protection allows customers to test realms and command rules protections without denying access to the user.

Violations are logged on a simulation log file for tracking.

This feature increases efficiencies, which allows you to move new realms and command rules to production more quickly.

Approximate Query Processing

Being able to quickly access accurate information from your database is essential for business agility. This new feature allows approximate results of large volumes of data with little deviation from the exact numbers.

Again, aggregation of data in this manner speeds up processing time and makes better use of resources.

As with every new release, we know you may have questions specific to your business and systems. Please contact us for more information. We can help you plan next steps to support your business.

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Winning the software development wars

October 18th, 2016

software-warChances are if you’ve worked in the software development world, you know the debates that rage regarding different development environments. Some developers wave the Java flag, while others hang on to .NET. At LSG Solutions, we believe customers should be comfortable with whatever development tool is being used.

LSG specializes in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express. We think that providing options allows us to meet the unique needs of our customers.

Past experience has shown us that while Java and .NET remain the heavy hitters in the industry, many of our clients simply don’t need their complexity.

Think of building a house. Some people want to build a custom home, with endless design options. The customization will allow them to have a truly unique house, but the trade-off is an extended build time. For others, having a quality home built with a quick turn-around time is the most important thing. Customization takes a back seat to efficiency.

These software development options offer the same type of scenario, making it ever more important to work with an organization who understands your unique business needs.

For companies needing something extremely complex, like a trading platform, the flexible customization of Java or .NET is essential. However, a business needing a simple platform developed quickly will find that Oracle Application Express is a better fit.

Over the years, we’ve found that businesses usually make their software development decisions based on the existing environment they have in place. If, for example, a past developer used Java, that customer will naturally gravitate to Java.

By partnering with LSG Solutions, we can help you understand which available options may be best for your needs. Since we specialize in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express, we have the flexibility and expertise to provide a custom solution for you.

You won’t get caught in the crossfire of developers championing their own favorite platform. By working with us to figure out what best suits your needs, you come out the winner every time.

Questions? Reach out to us today to discuss your options, and find out how we can help your business move forward.

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Protect your customers’ information

April 5th, 2016

Old fortress, tower under attackAre you ever worried about someone hacking into your company’s database? It’s where all your most secure information is. If someone is able to bypass the security in your website, it’s often not much harder to access your database from there.

A security product from Oracle known as Oracle Firewall could help. It lets you see all the IP addresses of the people accessing your website, monitoring what kind of data is being requested. It also serves as a barrier between your website and your database, making it more difficult to get to your most secure data.

One way you can use this firewall to protect your data is to change the accessibility settings on your website. You have the capability to block your website’s accessibility to people outside of the United States.

If your business is international, of course, that would be a terrible thing to do. But if all of your current and future clients will be Americans, you can filter out literally billions of people who would not be customers but could potentially be hackers by toggling those settings.

Depending on what someone hacks on a website, it could be a minor, embarrassing nuisance, or a large security breach. If someone hacks your website and changes a page, that’s embarrassing. But that’s all it is. If a hacker is able to break into your database, there’s the potential for a significant confidentiality breach, especially if you keep credit card information or social security numbers in your database.

This Oracle firewall is a great resource for website owners who are worried about their customers’ security. It could be a good fit for your business if you need to be PCI (or PCIDSS) compliant to do credit card business, if you need to be HIPAA compliant, or if you need to adhere to SOX. All the security requirements for your printed information are required for your online information as well.

For optimal security, you need to have access-level reporting that will tell you the location of the people who are accessing your website. This system will take care of that.

It can even monitor SQL commands to determine what kind of data is being requested. That means this Oracle security system can help block hackers from your database based on what they’re looking for on your website. They won’t even get close.

This firewall will give you realtime alerts and you can give it passive or active permission for monitoring and addressing threats. It works for a variety of database systems, as well-not just on Oracle systems.

Whether you’re a small business-owner or you have your own IT team, this new Oracle system can greatly increase your company’s database security. Especially if you have confidential information stored on your database, it’s worth your consideration.

If you want to know more about this security system, feel free to give us a call.

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Non-innovative software development

March 15th, 2016

I'm not listening“The customer is always right” can lead to a disaster if followed too literally. Obviously, software developers shouldn’t try to override their client’s needs or ignore requests, but there’s always a reason for a business to hire outside IT assistance. It’s typically because the staff at that business have reached a problem that lies outside their scope of expertise, and they want someone with software development expertise to help them solve it.

A developer should trust that the client knows what they want on a high-level, but it’s unfair to assume that they know all the details or best-practices of how they need to get there. They wouldn’t have called for help if they did!

We recently spoke with a client about their experience with a large systems integrator company whose technicians made that exact assumption.

These technicians did the bare minimum work in order to achieve exactly what the client requested. So, for example, when the client asked for a form with fields for different entries, the developers did just that. They didn’t talk with the clients about the options of how to achieve that end result, or make any suggestions for slight variations that could mean a much more efficient system.

When these clients asked their former IT team why the fields didn’t autofill any repeat entries, the developers responded that since they weren’t asked specifically to do that, they didn’t do it. Their mission was to fulfill requirements at a minimum effort and nothing more, offering no innovation or suggestions.

Here’s why this is so problematic: IT is the expertise of the software development team, not their client’s expertise. Even when a client has a substantial background in new system development, their reasonable expectation is that they’ve hired experienced professionals to do the work. They shouldn’t have to explain user-interface best-practices to them!

Another way to look at it is thinking about a different type of work. If someone hires me to paint their room blue, there are some questions that I will ask them and some assumptions that I will make because of my experience. I’ll ask them what color blue and if they want anything special done, and then I will use my own best judgment on how to do that best.

If I painted a room with a toothbrush and didn’t use painter’s tape or a tarp on the floor, it would be silly of me to object that you didn’t tell me to use a roller and tape or protect your floor! Those things fall under the realm of expertise that can reasonably be expected.

The most striking part of our conversation with our clients about the team that they worked with in the past came out in a meeting. One of the staff members made a great point, saying “We didn’t know what they didn’t know!”

The bottom line is, no one can read minds. When you hire a developer, programmer, or an entire IT team, that starts a conversation between all parties. Everyone needs to be transparent about the decisions that are made, but also take ownership for those decisions.

When both parties put themselves in the shoes of the other party, good communication will occur and that’s how problems get solved.

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Common software development myths

March 1st, 2016

crazy businessman thinkingUsually, clients have some kind of stereotype in their minds when they hire a team to do software development for them. Even IT professionals who don’t specifically do software development have assumptions about those of us who do!

As common as those expectations are, they aren’t always helpful for building clear communication between a business and the software developers they’ve hired. Here are 5 myths that we see pretty often-and the truths behind them.

1. Once the site is ‘up’ or the software application is now in production, the software developer’s work is done.

Your software is never done. Enhancements and fixes are ongoing because the system is never perfect upon ‘go-live’. Think about the iPhone, or Google. Those technologies aren’t really ever “finished” because developers are providing updates to fix bugs and add even better features.

2. Software developers should be given as much freedom as possible. Direction will only halt their creativity.

From a creativity standpoint, having unlimited time and resources for a project would be a luxury, but even then some direction from the client’s Project Manager is necessary to make sure the design and development fits within the budgets of time, feasibility and money. Every software development project LSG drives, there are constraints, so total freedom isn’t realistic. It’s important to discuss the boundaries for a project so all parties know what’s expected.

3. The customer’s the expert on their project, not the developer. They should be able to explain what they want so the developer doesn’t have to ask questions or make suggestions.

The majority of our customers will tell us some version of: “Look, if you can think of a better way to do this, please tell us and help us find the best solution.” Businesses should definitely know what their high-level needs are, but it’s the developer’s expertise that will help them get there. Open communication between both parties is crucial here.

4. If you don’t like interacting with people, you should do software development.

Anyone above a junior level programmer should be able to make suggestions about how to do things better in a respectful way. Programmers regularly need to run ideas by clients, discuss budget and technology, and have conversations about what’s actually reasonable for each project. Good people skills will help developers do those things with tact and respect. By the way, the junior-level programmer should be collaborating with the senior-level staff.

5. The shiniest, newest, most exciting technical system is always the best solution.

Most of the time, it’s the simplest system that wins the day. That’s the system that is the easiest to maintain and the one that improves morale. The goal is not for developers to impress their clients with IT glitter, but to help businesses have systems that operate well even when the developers are not physically there.

Good software developers know that they’re providing a service to their clients by sharing their expertise to solve IT problems. Communication between developers and their clients will help debunk some of these myths so that everyone can do their work well.

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How Biz-E Changes SMB IT

January 5th, 2016

Small business IT solutionSmall to medium businesses face particular challenges not seen in large business. One of the most notable is managing IT needs. From data inaccessibility to the changing face of mobile systems, IT demands on organizations can be problematic.

For most SMBs, changing technology along with hiring a dedicated IT employee is simply cost prohibitive. LSG understands the challenge and has developed a solution.

What is Biz-E?

As a way to meet the data needs of small business, we developed Biz-E. Biz-E provides managed computer services for small to medium businesses. Imagine being able to concentrate on your business production instead of spending countless hours on IT problems.

Why Biz-E Works

One of the major benefits of Biz-E is the tight control over IT costs that it gives. Businesses can sign up for a plan that fits their needs, enabling them to plan for fixed IT expenses.

Another benefit is accessibility to talented IT professionals. Stop searching for IT professionals. Biz-E service allows organizations constant IT support from professionals who understand small business needs and timelines.

Biz-E also serves to bridge the divide between data stored in the Cloud and a business’s other office systems. We can provide greater accessibility and interface of stored data. This saves business owners times and resources.

Meeting the Challenge

Maybe you don’t think your business is big enough to warrant managed computer services. Maybe your business is experiencing rapid growth, and you’re unsure of what your future IT needs will be. Whatever the case, LSG Solutions can help you craft a plan to meet your specific needs.

Contact us for more information on Biz-E or any of our other IT services. We stand ready to help you move your business forward.

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Oracle launches Standard Edition 2

October 20th, 2015

Small and medium business databaseOracle has always offered a database option for small to medium sized businesses with Oracle Database Standard. When compared to Oracle Enterprise, the cost savings alone, made it the obvious choice for its targeted users.

However, Oracle continues to upgrade and develop new software and databases to meet the changing needs of customers. Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 is part of that change.

Oracle says that Standard Edition 2 is:

  • An affordable, full-featured database
  • Built for ease of use, power, and performance
  • Available on servers supporting a maximum of two sockets
  • Optimized for small business

Comparing Standard Edition 2 and Enterprise Edition

When deciding which option may best fit your business, it’s important to understand the differences between Oracle’s two types of databases.

Standard Edition 2

This version was specifically created for small businesses. It is scalable as your business grows. However, you should be aware of possible licensing requirements when changing from one version to another.
As mentioned above, affordability is a hallmark of this version. Prices range from $700 to $17,500. Though it has a maximum support of two sockets, this is typically a good option for small to medium sized businesses.

Enterprise Edition

For those businesses needing greater scalability, Enterprise Edition will be the better choice. This version is available on single and clustered servers. There is no socket limitation.

Cost will be a consideration with this version as prices range from $4,750 to $47,500. Before choosing this option, you will want to discuss your business needs with Oracle professionals. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Moving Forward

As Oracle moves forward with Standard 2, customers may have questions about migrating from their old edition to the new. Oracle says they expect this to be a seamless process. Though, as with any new database, delays or challenges may arise. It is important to fully understand the transition, and how it will affect your business before the migration actually occurs.

We at LSG Solutions look forward to speaking with you and working with you through this change. Please contact us with any questions or simply to discuss options.

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CONTACT

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Edmond, OK 73013
(405)285-2500
info@lsgsolutions.com