Friday Jan 17, 2014

SOA Corner: Oracle Introduces Cloud Adapter to Simplify Salesforce.com Integration

A game changer addition to Oracle…” is how Matt Wright, CTO of Rubicon Red put itMatt Wright

If you have been asking yourself:

“Do I need another integration toolkit separate from my existing platform just for cloud integration?” or “Should I use the limited functionality integration tools within each cloud application I need to integrate?...Won’t that lead to a complex mess of disparate and overlapping integration?” 

If so, take a look at Oracle Cloud Adapters. This release significantly simplifies integration of Salesforce.com and lets companies more easily get a complete and unified view of customer and back-end data spanning cloud and on-premises applications using Oracle SOA Suite and the Oracle Cloud Adapter for Salesforce.com. Check out this Oracle Media Network Video (screenshot on the right) of Matt Wright, Maulik Shah, Technical Lead for Brocade Communications, and Badhri Rajagopalan, Practice Director SOA Integration with Bluenog.

Salesforce.com Integration

To address the questions posed above, this release illustrates Oracle’s integration strategy. Instead of companies having to deploy a cloud integration platform focused on cloud applications and then having a separate integration platform for existing applications, Oracle SOA Suite provides a single solution for integrating applications regardless of deployment location (public cloud, private cloud, or on-premises). This approach is designed to simplify integration and lower total cost of ownership in contrast to managing multiple disparate integration platforms and/or app-embedded integration toolkits, most of which use proprietary languages.

Although Oracle SOA Suite customers have been showcasing their cloud integration success stories for years at Oracle OpenWorld, this release eliminates many of the manual steps, automates session management tasks, and significantly simplifies security. Oracle SOA Suite customers already familiar with Oracle Application Adapters will see that the Oracle Cloud Adapters use the same wizard-based approach to provide visibility into the Salesforce.com business objects directly from within Oracle SOA Suite to simplify integration.

Customers using Oracle Applications such as E-Business Suite, Oracle Fusion Applications, etc. already have simplified integration since Oracle SOA Suite components are integrated or embedded into these applications. Combined with the Oracle Cloud Adapter for Salesforce.com, customers of both Oracle and Salesforce.com applications will have seamless integration spanning applications across the cloud and on-premises.

To learn more about simplifying integration, check out the Oracle white paper “Simplifying Cloud Integration

To download the Oracle Cloud Adapter for Salesforce.com, go to Oracle Technical Network for Oracle Integration Adapters

and join us for the Webcast "Simplify Integration with Oracle Cloud Adapter for Salesforce.com"

Register for Webcast

Monday Nov 25, 2013

Keep Your Applications Agile with Business Process Management

Author: Ajay Khanna, Senior Principal Product Marketing Director, Oracle

Applications are the backbone of your business. To run your business, you need many applications and systems like ERP, SCM, CRM, and Billing. Since companies acquired these applications during different time periods, they end up with disjointed applications and rigid silo'ed departmental processes locked inside the applications. Many applications were implemented years ago and selected for very specific business needs but with time the needs change. At that point companies tend to make point changes to the software to meet those needs. Such changes to applications not only take time to implement but are extremely hard to maintain.

With time, the needs of business keep changing, and applications fail to keep pace with the changing needs. This creates impedance mismatch between the business needs and application capabilities. The result is decreasing business performance, less profit, waste in R&D or lower market share because of delays in time-to-market of new products and services.

Business Process agility refers to the speed and flexibility with which process based applications can keep up with the needs of changing business conditions and minimize the gap between business needs and IT systems. Oracle Business Process Management Suite delivers such agility.

With Oracle BPM Suite you can create process based applications that help you orchestrate human and system activities across departmental and applications silos. It provides the necessary visibility and agility to manage and run your business efficiently.

Using BPM to extend your existing applications has following key benefits:

  • Better visibility into the end-to-end processes and KPIs
  • Enhanced Agility. Since BPM is all model driven, business managers can design and update the process as and when required without spending months on modifying underlining applications.
  • If you move your customizations to BPM layer, rather than in the application itself, it keeps your applications clean, better performing and easy to upgrade.
  • You can add additional capabilities like social or mobile to existing applications as BPM suite supports those capabilities too.
  • Last but not least, BPM is not a rip-n-replace of your existing applications. It is enhancing them with newer capabilities.

Let the applications do what they are designed to do the best. Move the rest of extensions in BPM layer for better visibility, agility and efficiency.

For more information visit www.oracle.com/appadvantage  and download resources on BPM suite at www.oracle.com/bpm.

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.


Monday Oct 29, 2012

Using Oracle BPM to Extend Oracle Applications

Author: Srikant Subramaniam, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle Fusion Middleware

Customers often modify applications to meet their specific business needs - varying regulatory requirements, unique business processes, product mix transition, etc. Traditional implementation practices for such modifications are typically invasive in nature and introduce risk into projects, affect time-to-market and ease of use, and ultimately increase the costs of running and maintaining the applications. Another downside of these traditional implementation practices is that they literally cast the application in stone, making it difficult for end-users to tailor their individual work environments to meet specific needs, without getting IT involved. For many businesses, however, IT lacks the capacity to support such rapid business changes. As a result, adopting innovative solutions to change the economics of customization becomes an imperative rather than a choice.

Let's look at a banking process in Siebel Financial Services and Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) using Oracle Business Process Management. This approach makes modifications simple, quick to implement and easy to maintain/upgrade. The process model is based on the Loan Origination Process Accelerator, i.e., a set of ready to deploy business solutions developed by Oracle using Business Process Management (BPM) 11g, containing customizable and extensible pre-built processes to fit specific customer requirements.

This use case is a branch-based loan origination process. Origination includes a number of steps ranging from accepting a loan application, applicant identity and background verification (Know Your Customer), credit assessment, risk evaluation and the eventual disbursal of funds (or rejection of the application). We use BPM to model all of these individual tasks and integrate (via web services) with: Siebel Financial Services and (simulated) backend applications: FLEXCUBE for loan management, Background Verification and Credit Rating.

The process flow starts in Siebel when a customer applies for loan, switches to OPA for eligibility verification and product recommendations, before handing it off to BPM for approvals. OPA Connector for Siebel simplifies integration with Siebel’s web services framework by saving directly into Siebel the results from the self-service interview. This combination of user input and product recommendation invokes the BPM process for loan origination. At the end of the approval process, we update Siebel and the financial app to complete the loop.

We use BPM Process Spaces to display role-specific data via dashboards, including the ability to track the status of a given process (flow trace). Loan Underwriters have visibility into the product mix (loan categories), status of loan applications (count of approved/rejected/pending), volume and values of loans approved per processing center, processing times, requested vs. approved amount and other relevant business metrics.

Summary

Oracle recommends the use of Fusion Middleware as an extensions platform for applications. This approach makes modifications simple, quick to implement and easy to maintain/upgrade applications (by moving customizations away from applications to the process layer). It is also easier to manage processes that span multiple applications by using Oracle BPM.

Additional Information

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