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PeopleSoft Now! Premier Episode: PeopleSoft in the Cloud

PeopleSoft-Now

In the PeopleSoft Now! premier episode, Sasank Vemana from Florida State University spoke about his experiences with PeopleSoft on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and PeopleSoft Cloud Manager. Geof Corb, Vice President of Oracle’s Higher Education team, also joined the episode to talk about PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and education customers that are transitioning to the Cloud.

Before diving deeper into this topic, it’s important to not be intimidated by the Cloud. Oracle has quite a few Cloud applications for you to consider when it’s right for you to do so. You should make the move to Oracle Cloud applications because it makes business sense for your organization, so be sure to evaluate the right choice for your business.

It’s also important to realize that Cloud doesn’t just mean Software as a Service (SaaS). If moving to Oracle Cloud applications is not the right move for your organization at this time, that is completely fine. However, you can still take advantage of the Cloud through Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – specifically Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). It’s a compelling opportunity for many PeopleSoft customers.

PeopleSoft on OCI + PeopleSoft Cloud Manager

Sasank Vemana from Florida State University joined the PeopleSoft Now! premier episode to share his personal experiences with PeopleSoft on OCI and using PeopleSoft Cloud Manager.

Sasank-Vemana

Vemana was one of the earliest adopters of PeopleTools 8.57 when it was initially released. Part of his role as a lead developer at Florida State University is to evaluate some of the latest PeopleTools features and functionality and see how it can align with the university’s internal strategies and roadmaps related to technology services in the future. Vemana has also been working on PeopleSoft for over 10 years now, and PeopleTools is one of his big areas of interest. He always enjoys getting his hands on the latest release.

Challenges of PeopleSoft on OCI

When asked if PeopleTools 8.57 being initially released on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure caused any challenges for him, Vemana said it did not. He explained that it was obviously a different experience than what he was used to dealing with in the past, so he had to do a little extra research about Oracle Cloud before diving into the latest PeopleTools release. However, the process was made easier by using PeopleSoft Cloud Manager. This tool almost completely automates the environment provisioning process, which Vemana liked a lot.

How PeopleSoft Cloud Manager Works

To use the tool, Vemana set up a free Oracle trial account. With the trial account, he was given a free 30-day trial that allowed him to try out different Oracle Cloud services. He was also given a $300 credit to use within those 30 days. After making his account, he got started using PeopleSoft Cloud Manager on the Cloud. He installed PeopleSoft Cloud Manager Update Image 7, which was the latest release at the time.

Once he had PeopleSoft Cloud Manager up and running, Vemana was able to simply log into the environment and spin up an HCM instance as a demo Image. The HCM Image that he was running was actually on PeopleTools 8.56, so his goal was to get access to PeopleTools 8.57. What he ended up doing was something referred to as a subscription process, which involves subscribing to update channels. When you subscribe to an update channel, whether it’s for PeopleTools, HCM, etc., all of the releases in that channel are automatically downloaded into your PeopleSoft Cloud Manager repository. So, when PeopleTools 8.57 was released, Vemana automatically got it in his environment because he was subscribed to that update channel.

From there, he followed a simple process of going into the PeopleSoft Cloud Manager Maintenance page and upgraded his PeopleTools 8.56 environment to PeopleTools 8.57 by simply pushing a button. Vemana expressed that this process has come a long way compared to PeopleTools updates and upgrades that he has done in the past. In the past, there was a lot of administrator time involved in the manual steps of the process. Vemana joked that he’s not an administrator, so if he can do it, you know it’s easy.

Value of PeopleSoft Cloud Manager

When asked if he thinks PeopleSoft Cloud Manager will provide value outside of PeopleTools updates, he said that there is a lot of scope and potential to the product in terms of automating environment provisioning and deployment of environments. You could also monitor a lot of your PeopleSoft environments that you have running on the Cloud, do health checks, and review logs from those environments with PeopleSoft Cloud Manager. It also helps with lifecycle management of your environments that are on the Cloud. From a maintenance point of view, there is a lot of value add if you are running environments on the Cloud.

Advice for Others Using PeopleSoft Cloud Manager

Vemana also shared advice that he had for other customers that are looking to start working with PeopleSoft Cloud Manager:

  • If you have the time, spend some time to learn about PeopleSoft Cloud Manager.
  • If you run into any issues or need some direction, work with Oracle Support.
  • Engage with the user community in your industry. Bounce ideas around and seek advice.
  • Watch the PeopleSoft Spotlight Series videos on Oracle’s YouTube channel because they often show step-by-step processes of things like upgrading to PeopleTools 8.57 on the Cloud

PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and Journey to Cloud

Geof Korb, Vice President of Oracle’s Higher Education team, joined the PeopleSoft Now! premier episode to discuss the current state of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and the journey that those customers have when moving to Cloud.

Geof-Korb

Current State of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions

The latest release of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions is release 9.2. It is a continuous innovation release. Just like with other PeopleSoft pillars, it has Oracle support through at least 2030 and has quarterly releases and updates. Korb shared that the team is striving to help customers maintain a compliant environment in a constantly changing regulatory and legislative landscape. He feels that the team is responsive to customer needs in terms of capabilities within the application, and they have been working with customers to help them fully leverage the capabilities that are available within Campus Solutions – including some more recent innovations like Page and Field Configurator, Drop Zones, Pivot Grids, personalized analytic notifications, etc.

PeopleSoft Campus Solutions will also continue to support the 9.0 version through the end of 2019. The team is also looking at a for-fee offering for customers that want to stay on that version for up to another three years from now.

Current State of Oracle Student Cloud

Korb also discussed the current standing of the Oracle Student Cloud solution. It is a suite of student-centric, Cloud-based applications that supports the full student lifecycle. It has three main components:

  1. Student Management
  2. Student Financial Planning
  3. CX Functionality

Oracle-Student-Cloud

Student Management is the traditional student information system functionality. It’s the strong, basic foundation that has been built into the first process areas and works to support continuing education. In the fall of 2018, additional capabilities were added for more traditional programs beyond the continuing education scenarios.

Student Financial Planning is a next-generation financial aid application. It helps individually manage a student’s financial planning. It gives real-time visibility into their plan and their entire academic program, so it helps students make better informed financial decisions.

The third piece is the CX functionality, and there have been industry-specific enhancements made to the Oracle CX Cloud. Parts of this include Student Recruiting, Student Engagement, Student Support, and Alumni/Donor Management.

Market Trend of Higher Education Adopting Cloud

Korb reported that Oracle is seeing Cloud adoption rates growing in Higher Education, just like it is in all other industries. There are a number of institutions that are continuing to move workloads from on-campus to the Cloud – including high-performance computing for research and data-intensive sciences. There are also a number of customers that are live in Oracle ERP Cloud and HCM Cloud already within Higher Education.

As of now, about 90 percent of institutions that have made system decisions within the past year or so have been choosing Cloud deployments. Of that number, about a third of them are selecting a Software as a Service (SaaS) application. For the most part, Korb expects that trend to remain steady, but he expects to see the SaaS piece accelerate a bit more as more functionalities become available. There are about 400 institutions that he expects will be in the market for a new student system within the next 36 months, so his team will look to target them for SaaS applications.

Moving PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to Cloud

Korb expressed that when Campus Solutions customers are evaluating Oracle Cloud applications, the strategy should be responsive and aligned with the institution’s priorities. Institutions have many options. They are not forced to do a Big Bang implementation. The process allows them to deploy Oracle applications in a sequence and schedule that makes sense for them. This helps with managing the rate of change that the culture and the organization can tolerate.

For some customers, the right place to start is looking at just going through a Lift and Shift to get Campus Solutions into the Oracle Cloud. In other areas, it’s really responsive to institutional needs. Each institution will have to look internally and identify any financial aid issues, retention issues, etc.

For those who have issues with financial aid, retention, etc., Korb encourages Campus Solutions customers to start with the Student Financial Planning product that Oracle Student Cloud offers. If an institution struggles with student engagement, recruitment, student success, etc., the CX products might be a better place to start because it can help improve interactions and engagement. Institutions that want to focus on continuing education and growing the portfolio of programs will be pointed to the Student Management products.

How to Prepare for Oracle Student Cloud Adoption

Korb explained that, in many cases, on-premises customers do not realize that it is not business as usual when it comes to running things in the Cloud. A Lift and Shift to the Cloud is a great opportunity to get started and get PeopleSoft Campus Solutions out of on-premises data centers and into the Oracle Cloud data centers. This allows institutions to repurpose IT personnel to work in different application areas.

Korb also expressed that he believes Oracle does a good job of transitioning customers to the Cloud through the continuous innovation releases in PeopleSoft that eliminates any more future major upgrades. Instead, customers get to enjoy quarterly releases and Selective Adoption of new capabilities. All of that leads to simplified planning on the customer’s end. It also brings on more targeted testing as opposed to large-scale testing efforts.

That’s what Cloud will be like, and PeopleSoft Campus Solutions customers are getting accustomed to that way of life with release 9.2.

Korb said that getting used to the idea of configuration instead of customization is a big change for many Campus Solutions customers as well. The SIS student system is the most heavily customized application on a university’s campus, so this will require a large change in mindset. It will require institutions to do a critical review of any customizations that they have to determine which are significant and which are true differentiators in terms of the programs that the universities run. Korb also said universities should share that information with the Oracle team so they can get a better sense of the capabilities that need to be designed and released for Oracle Student Cloud.

Finally, there’s the technology shift. With Cloud, there are no more PeopleTools. Instead, customers will face Web Services, REST APIs, Java, JavaScript, etc. – contemporary web development technologies. There are also Cloud development platforms for extension and integration. This is an opportunity for education retooling and planning for, in some cases, a different workforce or a different technology stack.

For more information, check out the video of the PeopleSoft Now! premier episode and additional Quest resources attached below.

Additional Resources

To learn from the experiences of your peers within the Quest Oracle Community, check out the PeopleSoft Customer Stories page that houses 30+ PeopleSoft customer stories about Selective Adoption, user experience, PeopleSoft in the Cloud, PeopleSoft Human Capital Management, PeopleSoft Enterprise Resource Planning, and PeopleSoft tools and technology!