Friday May 30, 2014

Standards Corner: Preventing Pervasive Monitoring

On Wednesday night, I watched NBC’s interview of Edward Snowden. The past year has been tumultuous one in the IT security industry. There has been some amazing revelations about the activities of governments around the world; and, we have had several instances of major security bugs in key security libraries: Apple's ‘gotofail’ bug  the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug, not to mention Java’s zero day bug, and others. Snowden’s information showed the IT industry has been underestimating the need for security, and highlighted a general trend of lax use of TLS and poorly implemented security on the Internet. This did not go unnoticed in the standards community and in particular the IETF.[Read More]

Thursday May 29, 2014

Understanding the Value of SOA

Written By: Debra Lilley, ACE Director, Fusion Applications

Again I want to talk from my area of expertise of Fusion Applications and talk about their design fundamentals. If you look at the table below and start at the bottom Oracle have defined all of the business objects e.g. accounts, people, customers, invoices etc. used by Fusion Applications; each of these objects contain all of the information required and can be expanded if necessary.

 That Oracle have created for each of these business objects every action that is needed for the applications e.g. all the actions to create a new customer, checking to see if it exists, credit checking with D&B (Dun & Bradstreet < http://www.dnb.co.uk/> ) , creating the record, notifying those required etc. Each of these actions is a stand-alone web service. Again you can create a new actions or subscribe to an external provided web service e.g. the D&B check.

The diagram also shows that all of development of Fusion Applications is from their Fusion Middleware offerings.

Then the Intelligent Business Process is the order in which you run these actions, this is Service Orientated Architecture, SOA. Not only is SOA used to orchestrate actions within Fusion Applications it is also used in the integration of Fusion Applications with the rest of the Oracle stable of applications such as EBS, PeopleSoft, JDE and Siebel. The other applications are written with propriety development tools so how do they work with SOA? It’s a very simple answer, with the introduction of the Oracle SOA platform each process within these applications was made available to be called as a web service. I won’t go into technically how that is done but what’s known as a wrapper to allow each of them to act in this way was added.

Finally at the top of the diagram are the questions that each Fusion Application process must answer, and this is the ‘special’ sauce that makes them so good, the User Experience, but that is a topic for another day, or you can read about it in my blog http://debrasoracle.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/going-on-record-about-fusion-apps-cloud.html or Oracle’s own UX blog https://blogs.oracle.com/usableapps/

The concept behind AppAdvantage is not new the idea that Oracle technology can add value to your Oracle applications investments is pretty fundamental. Nishit Rao who is in AppAdvantage team provided myself and other ACE Directors with demo kits so that we could demonstrate SOA running with the applications. The example I learnt to build was that of the EBS inventory open interface. The simple concept is that request records can be added to a table and an import run that creates these as transactions in inventory. What’s SOA allows you to do is to add to the table from any source and then run this process automatically whereas traditionally you had to run the process at regular intervals because you didn’t know if the table was empty or not. This may just sound like a different way of doing the same thing but if the process is critical for your business then the interval was very small and the process run potentially many times unnecessarily. Using SOA it only happened when necessary without any delay.

So in my post today I’ve talked about how SOA is used with Fusion Applications and in the linking with more traditional applications but that is only the tip of the iceberg of potential, your applications are just part of your IT systems and SOA can orchestrate your data across all of them; the beauty of open standards.

 Debra Lilley, 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

Monday May 26, 2014

An Interesting Perspective on Oracle's Mobile Strategy

Oracle’s well known for being an acquisitive company. On average, I think we acquire about 1 company a month. (don’t quote me, I didn't run the numbers)  With all the excitement around mobile, mobile and wait for it… mobile, well, you know...what' s up with that?

Well, just to be clear and quote Schultz from Hogan's Heroes "I know nothing! Nothing! "  But I did recently run across this blog by Kevin Benedict over at mobileenterprisestrategies.com covering this very topic, Oracle Mobility Emerges Prepared for the Future,  a little (fair use) snippet here:

"History, however, may reward Oracle's patience.  While veteran mobile platform vendors (including SAP) have struggled to keep up with the fast changing market, R&D investment requirements, the fickle preferences of mobile developers, and the emergence of cloud-based mobile services, Oracle has kept their focus on supporting mobile developers with integration services and tools that extend their solutions out to mobile apps.

It’s an interesting read, and I would encourage you to check it out here.  

BTW, if you’re a Twitter user, follow our new account @OracleMobile To the first ten thousand followers, I bequeath you my sincere virtual thanks and gratitude. :)  For the dedicated mobile blog, go to blogs.oracle.com/mobile.

Friday May 23, 2014

Experience the Excitement: Team USA 17 Trimaran Comes to Oracle HQ

We are excited at Oracle headquarters to see Team USA 17's Trimaran at our very own campus in Redwood Shores, CA.  This is the same boat that won the America's Cup in Valencia, Spain in 2010.  It's pretty thrilling  to see the actual boat, that won, come home to Oracle HQ.  Check out this video and see how the boat made its journey from to our corporate campus.  Click here to view this one-of-a-kind video. 

Monday May 19, 2014

SOA's Role in Simplifying Mobile Integration

This article formerly posted at the Oracle SOA Suite team blog. To follow SOA directly, go to blogs.oracle.com/SOA

Author: Mala Ramakrishan

For many years web browsers and desktop computers were the primary way to access information from enterprise applications. As mobile devices have proliferated, applications are no longer tied to the desktop. Users want to use their smartphones and tablets to access corporate data and business apps, anytime, anywhere. Many IT departments are having a hard time accommodating these mobile interfaces while preserving hard-won enterprise standards. Rather than continuing to develop applications first for the desktop and then making tactical mobile development choices, IT leaders want a consistent architecture that considers all channels. In this screencast, Suhas Uliyar who heads the mobile strategy at Oracle speaks about how customers can bridge this gap to take their existing and new enterprise applications mobile. He introduces Oracle Mobile Suite and SOA's role in this product offering.


Wednesday May 14, 2014

Plug into the Internet of Things - Webinar

IoT impacts every business. Mobile and the Internet of Things will change the types of devices that connect into a company’s systems. These newly connected devices will produce new types of data. The Internet of Things helps a business gain efficiencies, harness intelligence from a wide range of equipment, improve operations and increase customer satisfaction. Hear how Oracle and its partners are leveraging the Internet of Things to produce real business value.  Register today for this webinar to learn more. View the promotional video at http://medianetwork.oracle.com/video/player/3331878151001.

Monday May 12, 2014

A Five Step Roadmap for Mobilizing a Digital business

Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company
Michael Snow, Principal Product Marketing Director, Oracle WebCenter

Over the past few years, we have been fascinated by the impact of mobility on business. As employees, partners, and customers, we now carry powerful devices in our pockets and handbags. Our smartphones and tablets are always with us, always on, and always collecting information. We are no longer tethered to fixed work places; we can frequently find essential information with just a few taps and swipes. More and more, this content is keyed to our current context. Moreover, we often are immersed in an array of sensors that track our actions, personalize the results, and assist us in innumerable ways. Our business and social worlds are in transition. This is not the enterprise computing environment of the 1990’s or even the last decade.

Yet while tracking trends with the mobile industry, we have encountered a repeated refrain from many technology and business leaders. Sure, mobile apps are neat, they say. But how do you justify the investments required? What are the business benefits of enterprise mobility? When should companies harness the incredible opportunities of the mobile revolution?

To answer these questions, we think that it is important to recognize the steps along the mobile journey. Certainly companies have been investing in their enterprise infrastructure for many years. In fact, enterprise-wide mobility is just the latest stage in the development of digital business initiatives.

What is at stake is not simply introducing nifty mobile apps as access points to existing enterprise applications. The challenge is weaving innovative digital technologies (including mobile) into the fabric (and daily operations) of an organization. Companies become digital businesses by adapting and transforming essential enterprise activities. As they mobilize key business experiences, they drive digital capabilities deeply into their application infrastructure.

Please join us for a conversation about how Oracle customers are making this mobile journey, our five-step roadmap for delivering the moments of engagement across the enterprise.

Editors note: This webcast is now available On-Demand

Interested in following WebCenter blog? Click here

Friday May 09, 2014

BI and Decision Making

Written By: Rick Beers - Senior Director,  Fusion Middleware Product Management

If you think you know everything you need to know about Business Intelligence technologies and decision making, prepare to be a bit unsettled. I am, and it didn’t take much to get me there.

Most recently, paper in the CIO Journal section of the WSJ entitled ‘Inner Workings of the Executive Mind’ explored the psychology of executive decision making, drawing from recent advancements in neuroimaging, in which scientists map the brain’s processing of tasks ranging from the tactical to the most strategic. What they found reinforces what most of us have believed for quite some time: there is a science to ‘gut feel’. Quoting from the paper: “…most of us assume that when we try to solve problems, we're drawing on the logical parts of our brains. But, in fact, great strategists seem to draw on the emotional and intuitive parts of their brain much more”.

These findings are similar to views expressed by economist/psychologist Daniel Kahneman in 2011's 'Thinking, Fast and Slow', which explored decision making patterns and, specifically, that the mind intuits first, then narrows choices, then decides based upon facts. Or, that facts are often used to evaluate the outcomes of intuition rather than at the start of an objective decision making process.

While many could dismiss such things as academic and not relevant in the practical world, they are in fact disruptive in many ways. Think business intelligence systems and processes that we all interact more each day. They are structured to drive increasing amounts of information at decision makers, under the belief that 'more, faster' is better. But the mind wants context and landscape first around which to logically (or emotionally!) develop and evaluate options around which to position data.

Is it perhaps possible that Big, Fast, or Real time data could actually lead to increasingly poorer decisions as our intuitive qualities are circumvented?

Consider last year’s Accenture publication ‘Analytics in Action: Breakthroughs and Barriers on the Journey to ROI’, which provides results and analysis following a survey of Analytics Practitioners. On page 6 in the section entitled ‘Data Driven Insights’ is the finding that “.…while more than six in ten users rate faster better decision making as a priority, only one in four habitually rely on data as a source of inspiration or basis for decision making.” While increasingly effective in measuring past results and predicting future events, BI’s ability to improve or even change the way decisions are made is still elusive.

But things are beginning to change in a big way. In memory computing, and the outcome of information tied to business processes and within a situational or role-based context will finally deliver upon the dream of fact-based decision making. 

 Business Intelligence technologies, and the management processes that utilize them, have been evolving since the earliest such systems in the 1970’s. The chart to the left proposes that BI Evolution from a business perspective has progressed through three levels:

· Level 1: Reactive

· Level 2: Predictive

· Level 3: Intuitive

It’s important to note that this evolution does not imply that the singular ideal is the ‘Intuitive’ level. Each level is needed for different reasons. The degree to which depends upon the organization and the purpose. Very few would argue, for example, that intuition has a role in Performance and Operational Reporting.

Translating that innovation into true business value will require us to increasingly focus on the business perspective. Many will say that BI still feels too much like an IT Project. For it to go to the next level, where a true transformation occurs in the decision making process (Level 4?), business needs to be truly engaged as equal partners. We’re getting there to be sure, but my gut says we’ve still got a way to go.

Wednesday May 07, 2014

Follow-Up to Oracle AppAdvantage Documentary Webcast on Ricoh Americas

Thank you all for joining our Ricoh Americas documentary webcast last week and making it a successful live event. We are greatly encouraged by your response to the format and the content of these customer documentaries. For those of you who missed it or would like to see it again, the webcast is now available on demand. And as our thanks to you for watching the documentary webcast, we are pleased to offer a detailed Ricoh Americas’ implementation whitepaper. The Ricoh documentary webcast is second in our Oracle AppAdvantage IT Leaders series. The first in the series featured Pella Corporation (replay|blog).

We are grateful to Balaji Rangaswamy, Chief Information Officer of Ricoh Americas Corporation for spending some time with our Oracle AppAdvantage IT Leaders host, Rick Beers and providing us his insights into successful deployment of integration services to enable cloud, on-premise and mobile integration. As we learned, Ricoh empowered its customers, dealers and own employees by building an integration infrastructure that spans across all applications – Oracle and non-Oracle, cloud and on-premise, front-end and backend, client facing and internal. The interview provided us valuable insight into the advantages of a services oriented architecture (SOA) and the power of leveraging Oracle Fusion Middleware technologies with Oracle and other applications – Oracle AppAdvantage.

The webcast also featured a detailed walkthrough of Ricoh’s IT architecture walkthrough by Shawn Crowley, Senior Director, Middleware Solution Development who worked with Balaji and his team during the solution design phase. Rick and Shawn’s conversation highlights integration use cases and the Oracle AppAdvantage value proposition across industries.

While we made every attempt to answer the questions we received during the live webcast, for completion sake and as promised, here is a compiled list of the Q&A from the webcast.

Q. Can you please elaborate on the advantages of a services based integration versus a point integration?

A: There are four factors to consider in evaluating the value in adopting a service based integration strategy: Flexibility: the need that individual businesses units have to adopt differentiating processes Change:the frequency in which processes or the applications through which they are flowing change. Reusability: The number of integrations that exist that could provide significant cost leverage in a service based integration approach. Opportunties: The number of business opportunities that are expected that require quick process change.

Q. So, with Oracle Salesforce adaptors, you can now connect EBS and Salesforce faster? Can you please explain this adaptor’s interoperability with other applications?

A: The Salesforce.com adapter makes 1/2 of the connection…from Salesforce to SOA Suite. Then from SOA Suite (using Oracle Service Bus or Oracle BPEL orchestration), you then connect using our existing adapters such as to EBS (on-premise) or using industry standard Web services to other SaaS apps.

Yesterday's press release includes a quote from a partner & customer that have used the new Oracle Cloud Adapter for Salesforce.com Oracle SOA Suite Achieves Significant Customer Adoption and Industry Recognition

Q. How do you enable mobile integration again? What role does Oracle SOA play?

A: Oracle SOA Suite can expose just about any underlying service or application, to the mobile channel – independent of the mobile interface. Oracle SOA Suite provides REST/JSON support natively, – the increasingly accepted industry standard for mobile channel enablement. Oracle SOA helps decouple the mobile front end from the underlying service/application layer so the two can change independent of each other. For developing the front-end of the mobile application, Oracle Mobile Application Framework can be leveraged to build out – which helps build once, run in multiple mobile OS.

Q. Shawn, what is a typical design strategy for building a service integration layer?

A: Good question. In my experience, there's no silver bullet. Our team can engage with you to discuss a plan that best suits your need.

Q. How long does it take for a typical SOA deployment?

A: That all depends on the level of complexity. For straight forward use cases the time line can be very short, mere days. For more lengthy use cases with multiple applications that require heavy data transformation, the deployment time line can be longer. However, Oracle works very hard at making the software easy to use and deploy.

Q. What is the advantage of using Oracle SOA Suite here? Do you have pre-built integrations with Oracle Applications – cloud and otherwise?

A: The advantage of using the Oracle SOA Suite is two fold. First, it's a full toolbox of capabilities that align to different integration styles and patterns. So, you aren't looking for a new tool every time a new challenge arises: B2B today, Data Integration tomorrow, Cloud and SaaS next week. Secondly, we have specific connectivity options for Oracle Applications that expose Business functions of the applications, not the underpinnings and wiring. This promotes focus on the "what" you are trying to do, not the "how"... this is also true for Cloud platforms.

Q. Did Ricoh do any integration between on-premise applications?

A: Yes, Ricoh integrated multiple back office applications that created the backbone for everything they did. They integrated Oracle E-Business Suite with Oracle Transportation Management as one example. In all of these situations they leveraged the Oracle SOA Suite.

Have a follow-up question? Would like to share your feedback? Do place your comment here and we will be sure to get back to you soon. Stay tuned for details on the next Oracle AppAdvantage IT leaders webcast…

Monday May 05, 2014

Identity Enabling Mobile Security

Authored by Suresh Sridharan, Business Manager, Security

Smart Connected Device Growth: The growth of smartphones and tablet devices has been phenomenal over the past 4 years. Global smartphone shipments have grown extensively from approximately 100m units in 2010 to 725m units in 2012, reaching 1b devices in January 2014. Simultaneously, tablet shipments have grown from 5m units in 2010 to approximately 125m units in 2012. Tablet numbers are likely to touch 400m units by 2017.

This explosion in the shipment of smart connected devices has also led to a significant change in users’ behavior and expectations.

In a corporate environment, the phenomenon of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is gaining momentum. Gartner predicts that 38% of all organizations will have an “all BYOD” policy by 2016, up from 6% today (2014). If the same device is being used for both personal and work purposes, users will expect the same experience across corporate and personal apps. Further, employees regularly use similar apps for both business and personal purposes examples include: WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook..

Mobile devices present benefits both for organizations and for individuals. Surveys show that a BYOD policy helps employee gain an extra 37 minutes of productive time every week. To increase sales productivity, some of our customers are mobile-enabling sales teams to ensure that they have access to the latest information when they meet with customers.

Security is one of the most significant mobile device challenges both for consumers and for enterprises. Although mobile-commerce is growing rapidly (to $25b in the US alone), 60% all retail transactions that get to the checkout stage are abandoned with security as one of the main causes, according to recent data.

As corporate data on the device co-mingles with user data on a personal device, it becomes challenging for enterprises to impose restrictions on the use of devices. About 40% of adults do not protect their smartphones with a passcode, with married adults that number goes up to 45%.
In order to address security challenges, IT should be able to define and enforce policies that meet security and privacy standards to protect intellectual property, other corporate assets and optionally, personal employee data.

There are three things to consider while implementing security in the new mobile age:

  1. Implement a strong identity management system that allows one to manage users and ensure that they are able to access information based on the principle of least privilege to carry out the necessary tasks.
  2. Implement an access management solution to secure data based on who is accessing it and the risk profile of that specific transaction.
  3. Implement a mobile security solution that will help secure data on the device and ensure corporate security policies are enforced on the device from which assets are being accessed.

In essence, organizations need to ensure that application data is secured based on the user accessing it and the device and location from which it is being secured. Securing the device and the user identity, in isolation, is not sufficient.

Interested in following security blog more closely, check out the Oracle Identity Management blog here

Thursday May 01, 2014

It's Nominations Time: 2014 Fusion Middleware Innovation Awards

In an economy increasingly marked by the need for speed, companies know they cannot afford to wait on innovative ideas. “These days, time-to-market is critical for innovation projects,” says Amit Zavery, Group Vice-President, Product Management, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Java. “You want to be able to add new features and functionality very quickly and go live.”

Oracle Excellence Awards 2014 banner

Forward-looking companies are doing just that with innovative use of Oracle Fusion Middleware technologies to boost business value. “We see customers apply Oracle Fusion Middleware to reduce costs, create competitive advantages, move quickly to address market opportunities, and improve financial and operational decision-making. We’re particularly proud to be able to honor some of those customers with the Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation awards that are part of the Oracle Excellence Awards program,” says Amit.

Nominations for the 2014 Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation awards are now open. Customers, employees, and partners may submit separate nomination forms for multiple categories. The 2014 Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation awards categories are (subject to change)

Winners receive a free pass to Oracle OpenWorld 2014 in San Francisco, California, from September 28 to October 2, 2014. The deadline to submit all nominations is 5 p.m. PT on June 20, 2014.  So get those nominations in fast!

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