By Tanu Sood-Oracle on Jan 28, 2015
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.
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