Wednesday Jul 31, 2013

Middleware Minutes with Howard Beader - August Edition

It’s been a while now since I have blogged myself and given the importance I have placed on the social channel, I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with the wonderful world of blogging.

First let me introduce myself, I am Howard Beader and I lead the Oracle Fusion Middleware product marketing organization. Basically this means my team is responsible for creating all the online marketing content and activities across the Fusion Middleware Suite, and for all the content you see at our in-person events. As you can imagine, we are involved heavily in driving new product launches, in Oracle Open World and of course in driving our social media activities across all these various assets including the blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

For those of you that may not be aware, Oracle Fusion Middleware includes a complete portfolio of market leading products including Oracle Weblogic Suite, Oracle Coherence, Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle BPM Suite, Oracle Data Integration, Oracle GoldenGate, and Oracle WebCenter. Also rolled into this area are our Developer tools, Master Data Management and Java.

As I am sure you have heard many times by now, the world is becoming “Mobile”. Well, let me be one of the first to assure you, that this is most definitely the case and the time has truly and finally come for enterprise mobility. For those that have known me for a while, they know that I have been involved in helping enterprise customers mobilize their enterprise systems for almost 13 years now, yes… even before there were smart phones! As I write this, perhaps I should ask my children if they remember time before the iPhone and how we had to actually pressed real buttons on a cell phone in order to dial a number or that there was no texting, tweeting way back then. Okay, back to the story - at that time, “way back then” in 2000, the devices were under powered, the network was not yet capable of managing the speeds for the data required, the IT infrastructures were not optimized to support service based integration and we didn’t know what we know today about user experience design. Fast forward to today, can you imagine not being able to check email every 15 seconds, or the same with Facebook?

It should be just as easy for a salesperson to check on a customer’s order, for a service person to log in and order a replacement part for a repair order, or for an executive to look at her management dashboard and know that the company is on track to hit their targets. These types of capabilities are expected today across anywhere on any device, 24/7 and a required part of being competitive in today’s economy. Enterprise mobility is a focus area for Fusion Middleware in FY14, and one that you will see lots of activity around, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for more.

Another area of focus is cloud. Specifically, we are seeing customer interest in a number of areas including platform as a service, PaaS, and this, of course, is another top focus area for Oracle and for Fusion Middleware in FY14.  We are excited by the latest release of our Cloud Application Foundation and hope you have the opportunity to learn more by checking out the latest webcast.

Cloud integration is a hot topic, customers are always asking for the best solution to integrate their cloud solutions with their on-premise applications.  In a survey that Oracle conducted we found that a stunning 64% said they were unable to integrate their cloud apps with other enterprise apps. More information on cloud integration and the study can be found here.

Fast Data is an exciting topic that we introduced at OpenWorld last year, and is an area that we are continuing to see tremendous interest in across our customer base. Fast Data is a complimentary approach to Big Data for managing large quantities of “in-flight” data that helps organizations get a jump on those business-critical decisions. Fast Data is the continuous access and processing of events and data in real-time for the purposes of gaining instant awareness and instant action. You will be seeing much more from us in this area, but if interested feel free to check out our Fast Data article on Forbes located here.

Mobile, Cloud, Big/Fast Data are all top of mind initiatives we are hearing from our customers and partners. Oracle Fusion Middleware provides significant benefits across these areas and more especially for our application customers. In FY14, we have developed a focused program, Oracle AppAdvantage, to help our customers maximize their investments across Oracle Applications.

With Oracle AppAdvantage we are addressing the topics we are hearing from our application customers. As an example, our customers often ask - I have E-Business Suite Peoplesoft, JD Edwards and or Siebel, how can we develop more agile processes, how can we optimize our platform, how can we have better engagement with our customers, employees and partners, or how can we mobilize our applications to name just a few. The answer is... Oracle AppAdvantage!

Stay tuned to learn more about the program, and if you are coming to Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco you will hear a lot more about the above topics across our Oracle Fusion Middleware sessions, hand-on labs and demos so if you are there stop by and say hello we definitely want to hear from you!

Tuesday Jul 30, 2013

What Are you Doing on July 31st?

Me? I am tuning into the Cloud Application Foundation virtual launch event at 10 am Pacific on July 31st.

Following the announcement of availability of Cloud Application Foundation (CAF) 12c on July 11, we have heard from customers like Gemalto (video), TURKCELL (blog post) and CERN (video) that were instrumental in shaping the product roadmap for CAF in discussions in Customer Advisory Boards for Weblogic and Coherence.

The launch event promises to give you a 360-degree view of the recent launch. Complete with panel discussions with industry thought leaders and customers, briefings with product management executives and product deep-dives with experts and demonstrations of the latest releases of Oracle WebLogic Server, Oracle Coherence, Oracle Enterprise Manager, and Oracle Developer Tools, the launch event will cover all you need to know to get started with CAF12c.

The line-up of speakers include:

  • Ajay Patel, vice president of product management for Oracle Cloud Application Foundation and Exalogic
  • Cameron Purdy, vice president of development at Oracle
  • Mike Lehmann, vice president of product management for Cloud Application Foundation

The event will also feature industry experts, Frank Munz and Simon Haslam sharing their perspectives.

Are you registered yet? If not, click here for registration and more information.

Wednesday Jul 24, 2013

A Goldmine of Information

In a recent conversation with a couple of IT architects, we got into the nitty-gritty of how middleware truly is the lynchpin for most platform modernization and business transformation stories. As we got discussing some of the use cases, I remember thinking how I wished I had my phone recorder on since the conversation would serve as good material for IT architects, implementation teams and managers. 

Well, here's the good news! If you haven't, I highly recommend checking out the Architects' Resources page. From technical whitepapers to architect FAQs, recent documentation on specific Oracle Fusion Middleware technologies, implementation gotchas, primer on implementation best practices, details on use cases, architectural considerations to architects' perspectives, this page is truly a wealth of information. Capturing the experiences, opinions and knowledge of the architect community, this is a portal that you may want to bookmark and check out often.

We will continue to keep you updated on the very latest news, activity, releases and information portals via this blog. So, please do keep sending us your feedback and let us know if there are specific topics that you'd like us to cover and that are of interest to you.

Monday Jul 15, 2013

It’s Here – Cloud Application Foundation 12c!

Last week, Oracle announced the availability of Cloud Application Foundation 12c, the latest release of the #1 Application Foundation across enterprise and cloud environments.

For more information, please join Oracle, along with partners and customers for the Cloud Application Foundation launch webcast on July 31, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

Oracle’s Cloud Application Foundation is an integrated, flexible, best-of-breed middleware platform that enables organizations to deliver next generation applications with native cloud management optimized for high performance, reliability, availability and lower TCO. Built on standards-based technologies, it brings together key industry-leading technologies: Oracle WebLogic Server for Java EE; Oracle Coherence In-Memory Data Grid; Oracle Tuxedo for C/C++/COBOL; Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder; and Oracle Traffic Director for load balancing capabilities.

The latest release of Oracle Cloud Application Foundation includes Oracle WebLogic Server 12.1.2 and Oracle Coherence 12.1.2.

Oracle is also announcing 12c updates to its framework and developer tools product portfolio, including, Oracle Application Development Framework, Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse, which provide an integrated development platform for Oracle Cloud Application Foundation. For more information, see related press release.

Helpful Resources:

Oracle Cloud Application Foundation Blog
Oracle WebLogic Server Blog
Oracle Coherence Blog
Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle ADF Blog
Oracle Enterprise Manager Blog

Friday Jul 12, 2013

My 15 Year Journey to The Truth

Editorial by Rick Beers


Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb. With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader Editorial on a regular basis.

Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee catcher and prognosticator once uttered: “You can observe a lot by watching”; a wisdom that can easily be adapted to “You can hear a lot by listening”. I was reminded of that during a recent CVC with an Oracle customer, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. For those not familiar with CVC’s, an abbreviation of ‘'Customer Visitor Center’, they are executive level sharing sessions between Oracle and individual customers. They are ideal opportunities for us to not only present Oracle’s vision, strategy and direction but also to sit back and listen to our customers’ perspectives and learn from them. And at times, pick up some insights we may have forgotten that can still be of value, which I was soon to learn.

The focus of this particular CVC was on Supply Chain Management, and it brought me back to my roots, before my career took an unexpected and welcome shift towards IT. I did a bit of research on this particular customer before the CVC and noticed that they were members of the Supply Chain Council, a global nonprofit organization whose ‘framework, improvement methodology, training, certification and benchmarking tools help member organizations make dramatic, rapid, and sustainable improvements in supply chain performance”. Organized in 1996 by Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath (PRTM) and AMR Research, the SCC initially included 69 voluntary member companies, and I was fortunate to be among them as the SCC took shape. The SCC developed, and still maintains, the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, which describes the business activities associated with all phases of satisfying a customer’s demand.

SCOR consists of 5 supply chain steps: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return. The model itself is organized around primary supply chain management processes, and public and enterprises use the model as a foundation for global and site-specific supply chain process and technology projects, and for measuring their effectiveness.

Source: SCOR 10 Overview, Supply Chain Council

Which brings me back to the CVC. During my presentation I mentioned the SCOR model and I was asked my opinions of it. Not the type of question I had expected, given my current focus on Fusion Middleware as a transformational capability. But I listened, paused, dusted away the cobwebs and took a stab at it and in the process learned where I had been wrong 15 years ago.

I was a charter member of the SCC and had early input on SCOR’s ‘Plan, Source, Make and Deliver’ framework (‘Return’ wasn’t added until a later version). I had a fundamental disagreement which led to my eventual disinterest. I felt that Order Management’s front end processes were under-represented; that SCOR focused too heavily on the Fulfillment side and not enough on the Customer-Facing side (for example: the term ‘Deliver’). The response was that Supply Chain Management needed to focus on ‘execution’, not ‘customer management’. I thought this a big disconnect considering the way organizations were constructing their Order to Cash end to end processes through Enterprise Resourcing Planning systems (ERP), which were just beginning their proliferation in those days.

Within ERP, ‘Order to Cash’ encompassed both order management and order fulfillment (logistics). To illustrate, I found a logical reference model I created then to make my case:

In this view, customer facing processes such as Order Promising and Customer Response were part of Supply Chain Management; they simply had to be. Our direction at the time in creating tightly integrated end to end processes within ERP required it. There was no other way for these processes to be architected. This was short sided of course, as Tom Siebel would soon illustrate with Salesforce Automation and then CRM, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

The Supply Chain Council held firm though in their belief that the focus of SCOR should be on execution, and in the case of Order Management, only on those processes that lead to the creation and delivery of the product or service. I thought this wrong and essentially checked out of the SCOR creation process.

Well, I now see that the SCC was right on all levels. Customer facing activities should not be part of an end to end order management process; as we all found out, this creates an ‘inside out’ approach to customer management rather than ‘outside in’. Customer management became defined and limited by internal execution rather than by the need to develop and nurture healthy, sustaining customer relationships.

This condition gave rise to CRM in the late 1990’s. It was slow going for a while, since most of the enterprise systems industry was focused upon ERP’s broad-based roll-out in advance of Y2K. The next decade saw steadily increasing interest in CRM for relationship management as well as for customer marketing but there was one major flaw that prevented its practical usefulness within a supply chain fulfillment process: the lack of open integration through which processes could transact across CRM and ERP. Finally though, Service Oriented Architecture technology developed to the point where cross platform process transactions and information flows permitted the process rationalization of CRM and ERP’s order fulfillment processes.

Creating customer friendly and agile order management processes outside of ERP and integrating them in an orchestrated way into a single ERP system can be achieved by leveraging Oracle Service Oriented Architecture. But Oracle’s ERP (E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards) customers have the opportunity to achieve their future state now, with ‘Distributed Order Orchestration’, a Fusion Application, integrated through Fusion Middleware into their Oracle ERP.

The Supply Chain Council was right all along, and it only took me 15 years to understand. And all I had to do was listen to a valued customer to know the reason.


Wednesday Jul 10, 2013

Going Mobile

Author: Kevin Moulton

Sure, a lot of people have smartphones, but that's OK. Smartphones have browsers. Maybe your website will look a little small, but you figure that people can find what they need, and no one really buys anything on their smartphone or a tablet anyway. They just look. They'll go to a real computer to make a purchase.

Is this correct? No!

Consumers want to be able to do everything from their smartphones and tablets. When they come to your website, if they can't see what they want within a few seconds, they're gone. If your site is just your website shrunk down to on a mobile screen, they won't waste any time there. Someone else will capture their attention, and their business.

The question is not whether have you have to embrace mobile. It's how best to do it.

Mobile web site

You don't need to create a whole new website for mobile devices. You simply need a way to detect what device your customer is using, then display the appropriate elements and render the page in a way that will look good on that device.

And what about logging in? Are you just providing general information pertinent to any user, or do you want the information to be personalized for a particular user based on their previous purchases or other information? Perhaps you want to encourage your customers to login for security reasons, or to help you to personalize their experience. However, while you might see an advantage to this, the consumer might find it cumbersome, or they may be worried about their privacy, so this might be another reason that they go elsewhere. Besides, we all have more logins and passwords than we can remember. 

A better way to go would be to allow your customers to login to your site using an ID that they know and use regularly, such as their Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. This is easier for your customer, and it may even allow you to collect additional information about what your customers like to help you to show them something they will buy.

Is a mobile website enough, or do you need an app?

There are many considerations that go into this decision? If you want to take advantage of native capabilities of the smartphone or tablet, such as GPS, notifications, the camera, or contacts, or you want your customers to be able to store data locally and access it when they are offline, perhaps you need an app. Once you've decided to go with an app, there are many other decisions to be made, such as writing code for a particular mobile operating system, or going with a hybrid model so that you can write your app once, then deploy to any mobile environment.

One of the considerations is who you have on staff, and what their current skills are. If you want to write apps for a specific mobile OS, you may have to hire people with that skill. If you go with a hybrid approach using a development framework, such as ADF Mobile, you can take advantage of Java skills that you likely already have in-house.

Over the coming months, we will delve into each of these topics and many more in greater detail. It's time to go mobile. Oracle can help.

About the Writer:

Kevin Moulton has been in the IT industry for more than 25 years, and with Oracle for 7 years. Kevin is responsible for facilitating technology discussions on social and mobile technologies. He is also a Distinguished Toastmaster. Follow Kevin on Twitter at twitter.com/kevin_moulton, where he sometimes tweets about technology, but might also tweet about running, beer, food, baseball, football, good books, or whatever else grabs his attention. Kevin will be a regular contributor to this blog so stay tuned for more posts from him.

Tuesday Jul 02, 2013

What is DevOps and Why You Should Care?

According to Wikipedia, DevOps (a portmanteau of development and operations) is a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) professionals. DevOps is a response to the interdependence of software development and IT operations. It aims to help an organization rapidly produce software products and services.

That definition of DevOps is the – what. The “why” is even easier. Standardized development methodology, clear communication and documented processes supported by a standards-based, proven middleware platform improves application development and management cycles, brings agility and provides greater availability and security to your IT infrastructure. Clearly, DevOps is about connecting people, products and processes. Ultimately, DevOps is about connecting IT to business.

If you haven’t already seen it, do check out Bob Rhubart’s feature on DevOps in the latest issue of Oracle Magazine. And for more information on how Oracle Fusion Middleware, the #1 application infrastructure foundation, visit us on oracle.com

Monday Jul 01, 2013

Hot off the Press: Oracle Announces General Availability of Oracle Database 12c

Earlier today, Oracle announced general availability of Oracle Database 12c, the first database designed for the cloud. As more and more organizations embrace cloud, Oracle Database 12c provides  a new multi-tenant architecture on top of a fast, scalable, reliable, and secure database platform allowing you to bring agility to your enterprise, improve performance and availability for your applications while at the same time, simplify database consolidation.

We recommend you check out the press release and visit oracle.com for more information on Oracle Database 12c.

As always, more information on Oracle Fusion Middleware available here.

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