Wednesday Jan 28, 2015

Partner Column – The Journey to PaaS, Part Two

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 

Monday Dec 01, 2014

CACI Bv Netherlands goes Mobile with Oracle


CACI's CEO Gert Simons discusses how CACI has been serving the higher education market for nearly 20 years, leveraging Oracle technology to meet the high demands and volumes in managing student records, its workflow and analysis.

From Web to mobile and social media, scalability with WebLogic and Oracle Service Bus, and using Oracle BI to better understand trends, CACI isn't waiting on the sidelines and considers it "critical to be innovative" by embracing the latest technology trends to gain a competitive edge against the competition.its  Check out the video for yourself.


Wednesday Jun 11, 2014

CSC Enables IT Transformation for a Large Public Sector Health Agency with Middleware

CSC is a global leader in next-generation IT services and solutions. The company helps its clients achieve strong returns on their technology investments through its best-in-class industry solutions, domain expertise, and global scale. So, when CSC was tasked with an IT modernization project, the IT services leader relied on Oracle Fusion Middleware solutions to build a next-generation, service-oriented architecture environment to this large public-sector healthcare agency’s several thousand facilities.

Catch this fantastic success story of how they enabled a secure, service-oriented architecture environment and a robust platform with interoperability and scalability that supports thousands of hospitals, and with the capacity to support 800,000 provider organizations and process millions of files during peak periods.

Learn how Oracle Fusion Middleware can help your organization. 

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.

Thursday Apr 10, 2014

Turning Big Data into Real-Time Action for a Greater Customer Experience

Author: Irem Radzik, Product Marketing - Oracle Data Integration

The power shifted to us, consumers. The digital revolution allows us to access broader set of services, and communicate without boundaries. Today we demand more and better choices in a competitive market, putting pressures on businesses to catch up with our expectations.

By offering differentiated and improved experience to their customers organizations see that they can drive revenue growth via higher loyalty, and improved brand perception. Because technology is a key enabler for delivering superb and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints, in recent years customer experience solutions have become a top priority for CIOs. Thanks to the availability of big data analytics, organizations can now analyze a broader variety of data, rather than a few basic data points, and gain deeper insight into their customers and operations. In turn, this deeper insight helps align their business to provide a seamless customer experience.

In our digital, fact-paced world we produce large volumes of data with unprecedented velocity. This data contains perishable value that requires fast capture, analysis, and action to be able to influence the operations or the interaction with the customer. Otherwise the insight or action may become irrelevant, which decreases the value for the customer and the organization significantly. To extract the maximum value from highly dynamic and perishable data, you need to process much faster and take timely action. This is the main premise behind Oracle's Fast Data solutions, which we have discussed in previous blogs and webcasts.

Real-time data integration and analytics play a crucial role in our new world of big and fast data. Organizations that look into leveraging big data to create greater customer experience, need to evaluate the analytical foundation behind their customer-facing systems and resulting interactions, and determine whether they can improve how and when they collect, analyze, and act on their ever-growing data assets.

In our next webcast my colleague Pete Schutt in the Oracle Business Analytics team and I will discuss how organizations can create value for their customers using real-time customer analytics, and how to leverage big data to build a solid business analytics foundation using the latest features of Oracle Data Integration and Oracle Business Analytics. We will provide multiple customer examples for different solution architectures.

 Join us on Tuesday, April 15th 10am PT/ 1pm ET by registering via the link below.

Turning Big Data into Real-Time Action for a Greater Customer Experience

Tuesday, April 15th 10am PT/ 1pm ET

Until we meet at this webcast, please review my related article on this topic published on DBTA earlier this year: How to Turn Big Data into Greater Customer Experience, One Customer at a Time.

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