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  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Partner Column – The Journey to PaaS, Part Two

By: Tanu Sood

by Debra Lilley, ACE Director,  VP, Certus Cloud Services

I was
looking back at my first partner column
and realised I jumped
straight into PaaS 4 SaaS – the ability to extend Cloud applications
with PaaS, and actually
didn’t make the point we can extend any application with PaaS including our existing
on-premise investments with Oracle E Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel
etc.

What we
have learnt over the years is that customization of the base application should
be avoided.  So many of us have had difficult or even impossible
upgrades because of what we have done in our applications and have
therefore learnt this the hard way. However that doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t extend our applications, (perhaps the topic of another
posting and I need you, the readers, to
let me know if that is a good idea).

If every organisation
used the same set of applications for both front and back office there would be
no differentiation from a technical approach but in reality, that is what
all organisations need - a differentiation from their competitors.
It may be as simple as storing additional data, or an additional process.
So there is balance to be sought between staying standard and as is and what adds value.
What Cloud applications have taught us is to create these
extensions separately and then execute from your standard applications. 

How do
you do this? Well, in simple, non technical terms you probably want a 3 step
process:

1. Extract data from main
application.

2. Your extension.

3. Return or load data
back into main application.

Here is a very
simple example:

1.
 You take a single person record from your main application, and getting
data out is the easiest part, use an existing API or simply extract in a
suitable format using your analytics tools.

2. Your
extension use case could be to populate a small application for a
special initiative. 

3. Then,
you return to the main application and mark the record (e.g. A
descriptive flexfield in Oracle E-Business Suite to say they are part of the initiative).
This stage is the trickiest. If there is an existing API in your
application to update the object it is straight forward. Otherwise it depends
on the tools and flexibility of that specific application.

This
third part of the process, may dictate that you don’t go back into
the main application. So, in this example, you still have the power of the
extension but no marker in the original. Your use case may not need that
anyway.

Equally
you may not need the first step, if you are using your extension to collect
data, especially additional fields which you can hold in the application but
the system doesn’t give you the flexibility to validate or ease of entry
online, you may use an extension to capture, validate and process this data and
use a standard API to load it.

This
last example made me think of a conversation I had with an ACE Director
about 7 or 8 years ago about Application Express (APEX) and Oracle E Business Suite. He
was looking to see if there was a need for APEX here and every use case he
suggested people were doing with customisations quite happily. Now there
is a real move towards extending with APEX and I recommend this white
paper

What
PaaS gives us is development tools in the cloud. The same advantages as for
SaaS - no infrastructure, pay as you go, and predictable on-going costs. PaaS
gives SaaS customers the ability to extend their functionality with the same
benefits as with their applications but equally on premise application
customers could build their extensions in the cloud if they wanted to, although
I accept there could be less of a driver. But something else I didn’t make
clear last month is that PaaS is not just about extending your application with
code, it is also about other middleware components as well. 

The
Oracle Business Intelligence offerings have had a barrier of entry around the
commissioning of the infrastructure and platform build, so adopting them as
PaaS may make a lot of sense. Similarly there are other applications
you can use with your existing investment which again make so much sense to
adopt in the Cloud like Planning and Budgeting. 

Take a
look at Oracle’s Cloud offerings portal;
it is very easy to navigate
and understand. The Applications and Platform tabs are worth a browse just to
see what Oracle have made available this way.

Next
month I’ll talk more about the Rapid Development Kit I mentioned last month.

Editor's Note: And don't miss Oracle Cloud Online Forum taking place today, Wednesday, January 28 starting at 10 am Pacific, to get more details. Register now.

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, VP Certus Cloud Services, Fusion Champion, UKOUG
Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Lilley has 18 years experience
with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business
Intelligence Team Lead and Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100
conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts 

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