EPM Cloud Update: New Clone Snapshot Feature

In February 2021, Oracle released a new “clone snapshot” feature to EPM Cloud. It’s intended to make the cloning of an environment easier, like when customers want to migrate Test to Prod or even backwards migrate Prod to Test to keep them in sync. In some cases (but keep reading to understand the nuances), it can be used to replace a scripted EPM Automate solution.

As with any new feature, it’s good to test it out first to understand the nuances and if there are any areas for improvement to relay back to the Oracle team.

As per the Oracle online documentation, some important notes about this feature:

  • In classic Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud environments (Gen1) this feature does not clone security artifacts (users, predefined role assignments, groups and assignments). In OCI (Gen2) EPM Cloud environments, this feature, optionally clones security artifacts (users, predefined role assignments, groups and assignments).
  • This clones the Artifact Snapshot created by the last daily maintenance. If you made changes to the environment after the last daily maintenance, run the runDailyMaintenance EPM Automate command to regenerate Artifact Snapshot.
  • The cloning process deletes any existing application, snapshots, and uploaded files from the target environment via the recreate EPM Automate command.
  • Do not run this process close to a scheduled daily maintenance of the source or target environment. Be sure to allow sufficient time for the process to complete.
  • The daily maintenance time of the target environment is automatically reset to that of the source environment from which the snapshot was cloned.
  • If the target environment is an OCI (Gen2) EPM Cloud environment, and you choose to clone users and predefined roles, the Identity Domain Administrator role in the target identity domain is required.

When I first started testing this, I ran into an issue immediately. This is a known issue for now – you can’t successfully use this feature when your Test and Prod environments are on different versions. I first attempted this in the 2 weeks when Test had been updated for April, yet Prod had not. I had to wait for Prod to update to test this out.

Caveats and Level Setting

Let’s set the scene of my testing.

First, my testing occurred on 2 environments that were on the same domain. In addition, both environments had Planning already installed to them. My source environment was using the Sky Blue theme. My target environment was using the Redwood experience:

Next, due to some interesting threads on Cloud Customer Connect, I thought it would be prudent to show screen shots of a few areas before we get started.

Source Environment – Screen Shots of Snapshots and Daily Maintenance

Target Environment – Screen Shots of Snapshots and Daily Maintenance

Testing and Steps

Ok, let’s get started! First, navigate to Tools | Clone Snapshot to get to this feature.

Next, fill out the details. The user entered needs to be a Service Administrator, but an Identity Domain Administrator in Gen2 if you’re checking the “Users and Predefined Roles” box (only available for Gen2).

And away we go! The process starts to run:

Once the “Performing recreate service on target environment” step is encountered, as expected, your target environment will go down:

This is temporary and takes about the same amount of time as any other recreate service action.

Finally, after some time the process completes:

This took approximately 25 minutes total to run. Personally, I think the amount of time this takes is a direct reflection of the size of your source application, as well as the number and size of snapshots in both environments.

So what happened? When I do a quick spot check of the objects (cubes, dimensions, SM models, forms, dashboards, FR, Reports, data, data load rules, business rules, connections, etc.), it seems like nearly everything came over. As expected, even the same appearance settings have come over:

But I find some interesting results when it comes to some of the shadow areas of the environment. Some files in both Inbox/Outbox Explorer and Data Management are missing.

In addition, the daily maintenance time changed. It doesn’t match either the source or target environment, and the time zone has defaulted back to London – Greenwich Mean Time (GMT):

When I correct the time zone, it translates to 2:00am.

Remember that my source environment was set to 3:00am before the test. The target environment was switched to 1:00am before this test. This behavior deviates from the documentation and expected behavior.

Now let’s look at the snapshots area. This is where things get very interesting, and there is documentation in place to warn customers of this behavior. But note that some of this behavior will be changing in future versions, as it’s not what customers want.

In essence, I have lost all of my snapshots in the target environment, including my default Artifact Snapshot created last night. I have a new default Artifact Snapshot, which looks to have been created at the beginning of my clone snapshot process.

Note this comment from Oracle from a thread on Cloud Customer Connect regarding the loss of the original Artifact Snapshot: “We have fixed it in 21.05. If Artifact Snapshot exists in the target environment, the clone process renames it as Artifact Snapshot_DATE_TIME; for example, Artifact Snapshot_2021_04_30_17:06:06.”

Update 4/23: In addition, Shankar weighed in on the LinkedIn notification of this post. In a future update, no other target environment snapshots will be deleted/renamed. This is good news!

Lessons Learned

This feature has good intent, as it provides more of an “easy button” when it comes to cloning environments. However, it’s important to take care when using this, as with any feature that is blowing away and replacing an environment.

  • Don’t run this process close to your daily maintenance time in either environment. It seems to me that you’d do it first thing in the morning so you have fresh overnight snapshots and you have time during the day to spot check everything before the next daily maintenance time runs.
  • Understand if you’re on Gen1 or Gen2 EPM Cloud. Gen2 just recently came into play in late 2020, so most of you will be on Gen1, and there are security limitations (listed above) for this version.
  • Backup backup backup. Make a backup, and of both the source and target environments while you’re at it.
  • Always check the resultant Target environment to make sure you’re not missing anything, especially files in Data Management and the Inbox/Outbox Explorer and the correct Daily Maintenance time.

I do expect this feature to evolve as Oracle works through some of these kinks. Therefore, note the date this blog post was authored and double-check the Oracle online documentation to see what has been improved.

2 thoughts on “EPM Cloud Update: New Clone Snapshot Feature

  1. vincyck says:

    Hi there!
    First of all, thanks for the text! It’s very clear!
    One question: did you find any issue when the user that is trying to use this feature Clone Snapshot is federated (uses the username and password from an Identity Domain provider)?

    Like

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