Wednesday Feb 26, 2014

Integration for Airlines and Cargo Hubs

Thank you to Krishnaprem Bhatia, Product Manager for Oracle B2B Integration for this insightful blog post on the latest B2B integration trends for airlines and cargo hubs:

Market Trend

Many airlines today are using antiquated mainframe and proprietary systems for maintaining their Passenger Service Systems (PSS). These systems are  typically mainframe systems which are old and complex with a high cost of maintenance. Airlines want to modernize these systems and reduce their costs by consolidation of numerous point solutions and legacy applications.

The need to reduce complexity, bring down IT costs and increase their flexibility is driving airlines to outsource their PSS systems to vendors such as Amadeus. Although self development of these PSS systems can be done in-house by major airlines, it can be more expensive, less flexible, and less feature rich than the outsourcing option.
Plane at gate
As airlines outsource more of their PSS systems, they need to exchange business documents such as reservations and ticketing with the outsourced provider. They also need visibility and manageability into the data flowing from outsourced systems into their enterprises.This incoming passenger data also needs to be integrated back into their internal systems. For example, different documents received from the outsourced PSS systems need to be processed and stored so that they are available to other internal systems. This has to be done using standards-based technologies for compliance and interoperability, ensuring that performance and operations SLAs are met at the same time.

How does Oracle Service Integration fit in?

Oracle B2B allows airlines to connect with their outsourced PSS systems such as Amadeus using industry standards-based technologies. Airlines can exchange different document types (typically EDI variants, non XML formats) such as passenger reservations, updates to reservations, inventory management, departure control systems and ticketing. Oracle B2B provides the ability to exchange these documents, process them, validate them, and translate them into XML for further processing by downstream components.

Couple at terminal

Airlines typically exchange information with Amadeus using two modes. In the real-time (online) mode the messages are sent 'live' by the PSS systems on an ongoing basis as they occur. In the batch mode many messages are batched together and sent at a particular time. Oracle B2B provides support for both real-time and batch modes, providing critical functionality such as document translation, validation, de-batching for these documents. It also provides the communication mechanisms such as File, FTP and MQ for exchanging these messages with outsourced systems. All this is done using standards based technologies such as standard document and exchange protocols. Once B2B is done processing the messages, these are typically sent to adjacent components within Oracle SOA Suite for message enrichment and transformations. Messages can then be stored in an enterprise warehouse where this data can be used by other internal applications. The end to end scenarios typically have high performance SLAs in terms of throughput and end to end processing time.

The products typically deployed in such scenarios include Oracle B2B, Oracle SOA Suite BPEL Process Manager for data transformation and enrichment and Oracle Data Integrator for migrating processed data into enterprise data warehouses. Customers may also choose to deploy this over Exalogic and Exadata systems for performance reasons.

Some customer examples

There are many customers who are using Oracle SOA B2B as described above today including an asian airliner who went live with Oracle B2B in November 2013. Their goal was to replace their mainframe-based passenger service system with a state of the art process that interfaces with Amadeus. The business scenarios included real-time integration, batch, no-fly list checks, integration with Amadeus via MQ. The new solution was based on Oracle SOA Suite middleware on the Exalogic and Exadata platforms. The benefits for the airline by deploying the new platform include reduction in cost, increased flexibility and increased performance (2x  for batch processing, 32x for no-fly list)

Other similar customers include Sri Lankan Airlines who went live in Dec 2013 and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) planning to go live in 2014, along with others in the pipeline.

We also see that Oracle B2B is used to provide B2B SaaS services. This is becoming more common as more enterprises move towards cloud adoption in general. We already have customers in the retail sector such as SPS Commerce who have built their SaaS solutions using Oracle B2B, but today there are also customers in the travel segment who are providing SaaS based brokerage services. For example, Cargo Champs is providing a cloud solution for cargo management to more than 89 airlines worldwide. They are the biggest cargo broker cloud platform with airlines, frieght carriers, cargo hubs etc. With hundreds of different endpoints integrated using multiple data formats, they estimate to deploy 15,000 agreements and exchange 50 million messages over 7 data centers. Cargo Champs is using Oracle B2B for Custom, EDI and IATA documents exchanging messages over File, FTP and numerous other transport protocols. They are also using SOA Suite for message enrichment, business rules, transformations and routing.

There is a huge opportunity for the airline and cargo industry to improve their efficiency and agility as more and more airlines optimize their systems and move towards cloud adoption in general. Industry experts predict that there is going to be plenty of growth in this market for many years to come. For more information on Oracle B2B, see the following link

Monday Apr 15, 2013

Tax Day - Intuit's SaaS Based on Oracle SOA Suite

Have you ever wondered how Intuit manages their portion of the over 140M US tax filers and integrates the information with CRM, billing, and over 30 other applications?Intuit Logo

Check out this video of Intuit Integration Architect Jeff Kester describing how Intuit’s Software-as-a-Service is made possible by Oracle SOA Suite including his key comments on:

Intuit Video

  • Lower IT costs
  • Improved customer experience
  • Seamless application upgrades
  • Frictionless application integration
  • Deployment automation
  • Common data model
  • End to end orchestration
  • 360-degree view of the customer
  • Flexibility and agility
  • Improved cross-sell and up-sell

For more on integrating SaaS applications with on-premise applications, check out the white paper "Cloud Integration – A Comprehensive Solution"

Wednesday Mar 06, 2013

The SOA Mandate

I recall attending a Gartner integration conference in 2003, ten years after Gartner’s Alexander Pasik introduced the term SOA. Attendees were still voicing skepticism with comments like “SOA is just a new term for <insert unrelated re-use technology name here>” or “is this just another fad I can wait out?” Since this introduction, there has been a gradual but steady growth in the acceptance of service-based integration over the last decade as a strategy to increase agility and time-to-market but not as a mandate. SOA Mandate Image

A tipping point has finally occurred as a result of two recent trends, elevating the importance of SOA into a mandate for enterprise adoption for a large swath of medium to large size companies. The convergence of these two simultaneous trends are, for the first time, aggressively pushing SOA above the mandate threshold:

  1. Mobile Services are Different– At the most recent Gartner AADI event, the pre-event attendee survey indicated for the first time in several years that interest in “mobile enablement” jumped ahead of cloud which dropped to #2. During the keynote session, Gartner suggested a reason for mobile rising above cloud was due to companies having the option to slow down cloud adoption. For smartphone access, no such delay options exists. Customers have smartphones in their hands today and expect to interact with their accounts in an optimized mobile interface…simply put, smartphones have put urgency into mobile services. As Oracle SOA Suite customers have presented (Oracle OpenWorld 2012), mobile demands “mobile-sized” services that are different from existing service calls designed to support large amounts of data for large screen sizes over transmission rates that are far more reliable than intermittently limited mobile networks. The stronger the need for multiple types of service calls, the stronger the driver for getting serious about SOA
  2. Cloud Creating a More Disparate Infrastructure – In years past, most of the applications were on-premise and installed by the internal IT department, giving IT a stronger upfront role in the selection of the application and placing some priority on how well this application will integrate with the existing infrastructure. Now that more applications are cloud based, lines-of-business are able to select, and “deploy” new SaaS applications into production (initially uncoupled from existing enterprise applications) and therefore delay IT participation. Since every new cloud application vendor has its own specifications and techniques that it mandates for integration with their product, the relative uniformity of yesterdays purely on-premise infrastructure is rapidly disappearing. When IT gets involved for integration of the SaaS app with the existing infrastructure a full-featured integration platform supporting what is known as “any-to-any” transformation is a proven method to future-proof the infrastructure to support the next SaaS application. This point was highlighted by Oracle SOA Suite customer Geeta Pyne during the Oracle session at Gartner AADI and mentioned in a prior blog post.

What’s different about these two trends is a sense of urgency. In contrast to the classic drivers for SOA such as the need to enable businesses to roll out services faster, lower costs, and lower risk that were frequently addressed slowly, mobile service enablement and integrating disparate cloud applications can’t wait. As early adopters of SOA are proving out, having a service infrastructure in place allowed for rapid support of mobile services and integration of disparate cloud applications into the enterprises.

We are certainly well past the point of questioning the value of SOA. Instead…more and more enterprise companies are deciding SOA is a mandate for them to be able to deliver mobile services faster and support any new cloud application that joins the application infrastructure and maybe most importantly, gives them the flexibility to support a third trend when it arrives.

For more on cloud integration and mobile services enablement, follow this Oracle SOA blog and the social media channels highlighted on this page.

Monday Dec 10, 2012

“Cloud Integration in Minutes” – True or False?

The short answer is “yes”. Connecting on-premise and cloud applications “in minutes” is true…provided you only consider the connectivity subset of integration and have a small number of cloud integration touch points.

At the recent Gartner AADI conference, 230 attendees filled up the Oracle session to get a more comprehensive answer to this question. During the session, titled “Simplifying Integration – The Cloud & Mobile Pre-requisite”, Oracle’s Tim Hall described cloud connectivity and then, equally importantly, the other essential and sometimes overlooked aspects of integration required to ensure a long term application and service integration strategy. To understand the challenges and opportunities faced by cloud integration, the session started off with a slide that describes how connectivity can quickly transition from simplicity to complexity as the number of applications and service vendor instances grows:

Reasons for Cloud Integration Complexity

Increased complexity puts increased demand on the integration platform

As companies expand from on-premise applications into a hybrid on-premise/cloud infrastructure with support for mobile, cloud, and social, there is a new sense of urgency to implement a unified and comprehensive service integration platform. Without getting this unified platform in place, companies face increased complexity and cost managing a growing patchwork of niche integration toolsets as well as the disparate standards mandated by each SaaS vendor as shown in the image below:

Niche integration toolsets with overlapping and incomplete functionality

Incomplete and overlapping offerings from a patchwork of niche vendors

Also at Gartner AADI, Oracle SOA Suite customer Geeta Pyne, Director of Middleware at BMC presented their successful strategy on how BMC efficiently manages their cloud integration despite disparate requirements from each vendor. From one of Geeta’s slide:

  • Interfaces are dictated by SaaS vendors; wide variety (SOAP, REST, Socket, HTTP/POX, SFTP); Flexibility of Oracle Service Bus/SOA Suite helps to support
  • Every vendor has their way to handle Security; WS-Security, Custom Header; Support in Oracle Service Bus helps to adhere to disparate requirements

At BMC, the flexibility of Oracle Service Bus and Oracle SOA Suite allowed them to support the wide variation in the functional requirements as mandated by their SaaS vendors.

In contrast to the patchwork platform approach of escalating complexity from overlapping SaaS toolkits, Oracle’s strategy is to provide a unified platform to support disparate requirements from your SaaS vendors, on-premise apps, legacy apps, and more. Furthermore, Oracle SOA Suite includes the many aspects of comprehensive integration beyond basic connectivity including orchestration, analytics (BAM, events…), service virtualization and more in a single unified interface.

Oracle SOA Suite

Oracle SOA Suite – Unified and comprehensive

To summarize, yes you can achieve “cloud integration in minutes” when considering the connectivity subset of integration but be sure to look for ways to simplify as you consider a more comprehensive view of integration beyond basic connectivity such as service virtualization, management, event processing and more. And finally, be sure your integration platform has the deep flexibility to handle the requirements of all your future SaaS applications…many of which are unknown to you now.

Monday Aug 13, 2012

Five Frequently Asked Questions About EXTERNAL Web Services in Fusion Applications

If you're interested to find the answers to these questions (and find out what the questions are), plesae visit Rajesh Raheja's blog on Enterprise Software Development: Five Frequently Asked Questions About EXTERNAL Web Services in Fusion Applications.

Thursday Jul 19, 2012

Update - SOA & BPM Customer Insights Webcast Series

In case you missed the first webcast in the series, it was excellent. Before you watch the next one on July 26th, here are some of the:

Highlights from “Migrating to SOA at Choice Hotels”

Image of Rain's Bio

  • Our SOA Business Case
A whiteboard diagram showing the “before-SOA” spaghetti application integration environment and most importantly how Rain and the team used this diagram to rapidly justify investment.
  • Reference Architecture
Highlighting the role of an internal and external Oracle Service Bus, the use of business process management, SaaS, B2B, mobile, governance, and more
  • SOA Rollout Update
Since Nov 2010, Choice Hotels rolled out 19 services, re-used 4 services, authored guidelines, best practices, reporting…See the webcast for details
  • Google API
How they send Google 3.7M data points, 2.1GB of data per week on availability, pricing and more.
  • How to Measure SOA’s Impact
  • Cloud Experience
  • Gotchas and more

Image of Google API from Choice Hotels

Each Webcast is short...under 30 minutes so watch the replay of the Choice Hotels webcast now and register for the next one "San Joaquin County – Optimizing Justice & Public Safety with Oracle BPM & SOA" - Registration Link

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Welcome to the Oracle SOA Suite team blog. We'll use this site for news and information that did not make it into our official documentation for a reason or another.

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