Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation Upgrades its Web Platform to Oracle 9i Application Server





Collin Seebach and Jemal Kobussen

Congratulations are in order for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF). The Federation recently ported all of their internal Intranet sites, Intranet applications, external Web sites, and Web applications to one modern solid platform. The platform chosen was Oracle's 9i Application Server Software which includes Oracle Web Cache, Oracle Portal, Oracle Infrastructure, Oracle Single Sign On, and Oracle Internet Directory. This platform is a significant technical step forward for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation from the previous software. This migration will provide the STF with many added benefits.

The migrated site

Some of the benefits of this technically challenging migration are a more secure network environment, a single sign on point and the hosting of all applications and web sites from a single server. By using the latest Oracle Application Server software, the STF has moved into an excellent position to receive required Oracle support and software updates in a timely manner. The time saving by users and the reduced cost of software and hardware maintenance is one of the greatest benefits. This migration will pay for itself several times over in the life cycle of this platform.

Collin Seebach and Dan Simair

A secure network environment is achieved through maintaining the Application Server and backend Oracle database on the internal network where they cannot be reached by Internet traffic. Oracle Web Cache resides in a location commonly referred to as the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ). This area is exposed to Internet traffic and client Web browsers. When a request from a client Web browser is made to Oracle Web Cache, it communicates the request on behalf of the client Web browser to the Application server on the secure internal network. Only Oracle Web Cache has the ability to access the Application Server on the secure Internal network. The Web Cache server uses 128-bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to communicate with client browsers for Web applications that may pass sensitive information over the Internet or Internal Network.

Gone are the days of signing into every application separately and trying to remember and maintain a multitude of passwords. Oracle Single Sign on allows users to sign in once and have access to all secured applications they are allowed. Through the Oracle Single Sign On Web Interface, network administrators can maintain users, and user privileges through groups within the Oracle Internet Directory account database.

This migration was technically challenging both because of the software platforms that were migrated from and by the shear volume of applications that needed to be migrated.

The applications and Web sites were migrated from Oracle Application Server 4.0.7 which hosted the Websites and the majority of the applications, and Oracle Portal Release 1 which hosted the remaining applications.

The STF hosts three external websites www.stf.sk.ca, www.mcdowellfoundation.ca, www.sts.sk.ca, and one internal secured Website (The Intranet). Additionally, the STF hosts five internal Intranet applications and eight external Web applications. Several hundred users and approximately 20 groups were migrated into Oracle Internet Directory data store. All the applications were altered to utilize the Oracle Internet Directory for user and group security.

Congratulations to the STF management and staff for initiating and facilitating this important step forward.

ESTI provided the following services to the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation for this migration:

  • Project Management
  • Migration duties making use of 10 staff members
  • Operating system installation and configuration
  • Hardware support
  • Quality assurance
  • System testing
  • Regression testing
  • Secure network configuration

Application Server configuration including SSL