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. 

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 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 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…

Wednesday Mar 19, 2014

Zero to SOA in Minutes! Announcing the SOA/BPM 11g 11.1.1.7.0 Virtual Machine appliance

I am pleased to announce the availability of Oracle's SOA/BPM/OSB 11g 11.1.1.7.0 Virtual Machine appliance. This VirtualBox virtual machine is meant for testing and evaluation purposes only. It is not certified, nor licensed for any production use. It is our most comprehensive virtual machine to date, with the following Oracle products installed, configured and functionally integrated within the appliance:

  •     Oracle Linux 6 Update 4 (64-bit)
  •     Oracle Database Express Edition 11g Release 2
  •     Oracle SOA Suite 11.1.1.7.0 (includes Service Bus)
  •     Oracle Event Processing 11.1.1.7.0
  •     Oracle BPM Suite 11.1.1.7.1
  •     Oracle Webcenter Content (Enterprise Content Management) 11.1.1.7.0
  •     Oracle Webcenter Suite 11.1.1.7.0
  •     Oracle Webcenter Portal 11.1.1.7.0
  •     Oracle JDeveloper 11.1.1.7.0
  •     Oracle JRockit
  •     Java SE Development Kit

Refer to the README document for full details on the appliance features, installation guide, memory configurations, URLs, credentials and other recommended software.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why do we need a SOA Developer Virtual Machine?

Virtual Machines (VM) play an important role in increasing developer productivity; saving hours, if not days, of provisioning effort in standing up a fully functional, configured Fusion Middleware platform for testing and evaluation. Think of it as your very own Platform as a Service (PaaS) on your laptop/desktop!

What can I use the VM for?

A developer VM can prove useful for a variety of reasons: quick internal demos, proof of concepts, testing etc. For those new to Oracle SOA or BPM Suite, it can serve as a powerful tool to learn these technologies, which is why it is very popular for developer learning and training sessions. In fact, the VM includes pre-configured lab artifacts - "PO Processing" and "Sales Quote" - that are used in Oracle instructor-led training sessions and in the "Getting Started" books on Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle BPM Suite.  

What benefits does the VM provide beyond simply installing the Oracle SOA Suite?

For enterprise development, installation of Oracle SOA Suite (or any single piece of software for that matter) is only a fraction of the overall effort needed to build an end-to-end configured development environment. Typical effort in standing up an integrated software stack on a "bare-metal" would involve the following provisioning tasks:

  • Create base image: Install supported version of the Linux OS e.g. Oracle Linux, Ubuntu, EC2 AMIs etc.
  • Setup base image: Security policies, firewalls, port forwarding rules, hard drive partitions on block storage
  • Install pre-requisite software: Java, Database
  • Install Fusion Middleware: SOA Suite, BPM Suite, Web Center and any other modules, run RCU with correct schema names and passwords
  • Setup Fusion Middleware: WLS domain with correct templates needed for SOA+BPM+BAM+Service Bus+WebCenter
  • Configure Modules: Association between BPM and WebCenter Content/Portal with the correct security setup 
  • Install additional tools/software: JDeveloper IDE, extensions
  • Optimize the environment: WLS console properties, front-end host, external listen address etc. for your network topology
  • Create accounts: Seed demo user accounts with email addresses (or other user accounts)

While you can always automate the above-mentioned steps, having a pre-provisioned DevOps style machine image can help you reduce development costs. It can get you from zero to a fully working SOA environment in minutes, on any developer's laptop. The benefits go beyond simply time to provision, it allows you to do more with less resources. For example, the VM allows developers to quickly switch between multiple running instances, each testing a new feature or version without the need for additional hardware.

We sincerely hope you enjoy using this VM and would love to hear your feedback!

Rajesh Raheja

Rajesh Raheja is senior director of development in Oracle's Fusion Middleware SOA Integration team, driving cross-functional architecture initiatives on application integration and cloud iPaaS technologies. In his 17 years at Oracle, he has held various engineering, product management and consulting positions; bringing complex applications and platform products to market. He has extensive experience with Oracle CRM, E-Business Suite and Fusion Applications; and related integration technologies. He is an ardent advocate of agile development processes and design thinking. You can follow him on Twitter and his personal blog.

Tuesday Feb 18, 2014

Manage the Internet of Things, Cloud Integration and Digital Experience

What do the Internet of Things, cloud integration with salesforce.com and Oracle AppAdvantage for Digital Experience have in common? Aside from the fact that these are all enabled by Oracle Fusion Middleware solutions, these are the topics we covered in the February edition of the Oracle Fusion Middleware Newsletter.

Yes, the Feb edition of the newsletter is now out. Catch an interview with our product expert on the Internet of Things, the market trends that are driving it, the solution requirements and how it may relate to your organization's business needs.

You may have recently caught our documentary webcast featuring Pella where the company's IT leaders discussed how they are revolutionizing the digital experience they are providing to their customers via Pella.com and to their dealers and sales network via the self-service portal, all enabled by Oracle AppAdvantage, or their use of Oracle Fusion Middleware technologies with Oracle E-Business Suite and other applications. The newsletter feature on Oracle AppAdvantage for Digital Experience discusses the technology science behind the success many organizations such as Pella are experiencing today.

And in case you missed our recent announcement on the availability of Oracle Cloud Adapters, catch up on this feature to learn how these adapters drastically simplify integration of on-premises and cloud applications and services, including Salesforce.com. For Oracle Applications customers, the premise of Oracle AppAdvantage for cloud and on-premise integration got further simplfied and seamless.

The newsletter offers updates on latest news, events, upcoming webcasts and the most up to date collateral, documentation and materials available so if you haven't subscribed to it yet, we recommend you do so today. Happy reading!


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

Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Oracle SOA Black Belt Cheat Sheets (Free Download of the Year!)

'Tis the season of giving, so for this last post of the year, I am pleased to make available some of our most requested cheat sheets used internally and by various implementation partners world wide. These cheat sheets were created as part of the Oracle SOA Black Belt training sessions - advanced hands-on workshops that are available only to experienced Oracle SOA practitioners to gain deeper insight into the workings of the engine, enabling them to architect scalable solutions. If you have gone through this workshop, or have been working with the BPEL engine, I hope you will find this as a handy resource.

In case you are curious about this "black belt" workshop, here is a day-by-day blog written by one of our attendees.

And if you are wondering, yes, in some locations, we actually do hand out physical black belts - thanks to Jürgen Kress' SOA Community. Follow the tweets for more pictures.

Click on the link to download each. In case of any errors or if you would like to see more such collateral, please do provide feedback.

Weblogic Server Essentials Cheat Sheet (pdf)

SOA Essentials Cheat Sheet (pdf)

BPEL Service Engine Internals Cheat Sheet (pdf)

SOA Diagnostics Cheat Sheet (pdf) -- Thanks to Shawn Bailey for this one!

Happy Holidays and see you in the next year!

Monday Dec 16, 2013

Norway Post AS Boosts Customer Insight and Service with Fusion Middleware

Founded in 1647, the Norway Post AS manages mail distribution throughout Norway.  Originally owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport, in 2002 they changed its corporate structure due to deregulation.  The challenges they faced included streamlining operations and cost reduction including IT expenses for 5 customer service call centers due to shrinking revenues and a drop in mail volume, enable customer service representatives to effectively service incoming calls,gain insight into customer insight and behavior.  The last challenge involved ultimately creating or deploying a solution that could be scale as new companies are acquired.

 

The solution implemented consisted of Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle WebLogic Suite used to integrate Salesforce.com CRM system to on-premise call center applications, back-end systems that were used to manage customer lists, contact information as well as
a mail tracking solution. With Oracle SOA Suite, Norway Post was able to achieve a significant time and effort savings in addition to improved data quality as a result of integrated,back end systems automatically synchronized with other systems.

The customer's quote says it all, " “We chose the Oracle solution for cloud-integration middleware because of its high reliability and flexibility. We had used Oracle extensively for a long time, so it was also a matter of making the most of our investment in our Oracle-based strategic integration platform,” said Trond Guneriussen, Service manager, Internal integration, Norway Post AS.

For more information on Norway Post AS and how they saw tremendous value with Oracle SOA Suite and WebLogic Suite, visit here.

Thursday Nov 21, 2013

ACE Director Challenges the Definition of "Enterprise"

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

Indulge me today, I want to talk about one of my pet hates, the misuse of the word ‘enterprise’.

One of the things that motivates me as a user group leader is helping people get the most out of their investment in Oracle. Let’s face it, Oracle isn’t cheap, but their customers select Oracle based on business cases that says it is value for money, what I want us to do is help them realize that investment. All too often you hear about organizations who did not and they blame the technology. I however often believe it is how it is used, or even more often how it is not used.

The value of Fusion Middleware to me is that it provides a platform for your whole enterprise not just a point solution. So yes, the business case initially may be about one area but you must plan and implement with your whole enterprise in mind, and then you can expand your use and bring additional benefits that one their own did not initially warrant the investment.

A simple example of this is the adoption of SOA. Many organizations have adopted different applications to deliver their business but they are not integrated or only in a crude fashion, and this lack of flow causes duplication, error and poor customer service. The introduction of a single process orchestration platform will allow for automated processing across applications invisible to the business user ultimately improving the service, removing errors and saving money. Then you can continue to increase the return on your investment by using SOA across your enterprise for other process flows that on their own did not justify the spend.

Coming off my soapbox for a minute, let’s look at what I think we should be doing:

1. Understand your organization and its business

2. Understand the main weakness or what change would make the most positive difference to your organization

3. Understand the entire enterprise IT you have to support your organization

4. Understand what advances in IT can help what you have at #3 address #2 to ensure success at #1

5. Identify other areas that could benefit from the investment made at #4

This sounds really simple but I have spent most of my 30 years in IT trying to identify the stakeholders for these points and bringing them together. It always amazes me how many IT experts in an organization cannot articulate their business. Should business leaders be expected to understand the IT strategy? I think IT should be an enabler for business people and not their profession, it is down to us, the IT people to understand what it is we are to enable, and the most important role is that of enterprise architect.

So why am I writing about this under the AppAdvantage banner and not just simply a rant on my own blogpost? Education. Enterprise architects need to learn and people learn by example and showcasing what others have done is a great way to learn what business challenges can be addressed by the FMW stack. The IT Leaders program under AppAdvantage will showcase some of the projects undertaken by Oracle customers and help us relate them to our own organizations. The interviews with Rick Beers will start by explaining the business or the organization, what they needed to do and how Oracle helped them achieve it. I also ask that Rick adds a question, about what next? How else will the company benefit from the initial investment?

Does your organization have something to share? I know the program is still looking for stories and my survey is still running. Here is the link to my survey so do put your examples in.

In my last post I talked about how we introduced AppAdvantage to the UKOUG Applications Community, and in a few days we have our Technology Community Conference, where our members will be drilling down into how the technology delivers. At that event we also have customer case studies which, like the AppAdvantage program, will teach by example because as I was once told by a very technical guru (that would be you, Alex Gorbachev) that being able to ‘do tech’ does not sell tech, it only delivers what you sell, and you can only sell tech if you can articulate the business benefit.

About the Author:

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

Editor’s Note: Debra has kindly agreed to share her musings and experience in a monthly column on the Fusion Middleware blog so look for her next post in Dec…

Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

Chalk Talk with John: How Does SOA Add Value to Your Enterprise?

In this episode of Chalk Talk with John we revisit our town of Middleware Fields from What Does User Experience Mean to You? to look at demystifying the business value of SOA.

Middleware fields is an extremely eco-conscious community and has been trying to setup a commuting program for their employees. Though a good idea, they soon run into challenges ensuring that people are able to use the commuting services easily.  Take a look below to see how SOA is like a transit pass for your enterprise and how it addresses common issues you may have with your enterprise systems.

About me:

Hi, I am John Brunswick, an Oracle Enterprise Architect. As an Oracle Enterprise Architect, I focus on the alignment of technical capabilities in support of business vision and objectives, as well as the overall business value of technology.  Before coming to Oracle, I was a Practice Manager within BEA System's Business Interaction Division consulting organization, orchestrating enterprise systems in support of line of business goals.

Follow me on Twitter and visit my site for Oracle Fusion Middleware related tips.

Friday Oct 25, 2013

Global Perspective: Oracle AppAdvantage Does its Stage Debut in the UK

Global Perspective is a monthly series that brings experiences, business needs and real-world use cases from regions across the globe. This month’s feature is a follow-up from last month’s Global Perspective note from a well known ACE Director based in EMEA.

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

My first contribution to this blog was before Oracle Open World and I was quite excited about where this initiative would take me in my understanding of the value of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Rimi Bewtra from the Oracle AppAdvantage team came as promised to the Oracle ACE Director briefings and explained what this initiative was all about and I then asked the directors to take part in the new survey. The story was really well received and then at the SOA advisory board that many of these ACE Directors already take part in there was a further discussion on how this initiative will help customers understand the benefits of adoption.

A few days later Rick Beers launched the program at a lunch of invited customer executives which included one from Pella who talked about their projects (a quick recap on that here). I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event but what really interested me was that these executives who understood the technology but where looking for how they could use them to drive their businesses.

Lots of ideas were bubbling up in my head about how we can use this in user groups to help our members, and the timing was fantastic as just three weeks later we had UKOUG_Apps13, our flagship Applications conference in the UK. We had independently working with Oracle marketing in the UK on an initiative called Apps Transformation to help our members look beyond just the application they use today. We have had a Fusion community page but felt the options open are now much wider than Fusion Applications, there are acquired applications, social, mobility and of course the underlying technology, Oracle Fusion Middleware. I was really pleased to be allowed to give the Oracle AppAdvantage story as a session in our conference and we are planning a special Apps Transformation event in March where I hope the Oracle AppAdvantage team will take part and we will have the results of the survey to discuss.

But, life also came full circle for me. In my first post, I talked about Andrew Sutherland and his original theory that Oracle Fusion Middleware adoption had technical drivers. Well, Andrew was a speaker at our event and he gave a potted, tech-talk free update on Oracle Open World. Andrew talked about the Prevailing Technology Winds, and what is driving this today and he talked about that in the past it was the move from simply automating processes (ERP etc), through the altering of those processes (SOA) and onto consolidation. The next drivers are around the need to predict, both faster and more accurately; how to better exploit the information that we have available. He went on to talk about The Nexus of Forces: Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information – harnessing these forces of change with Oracle technology. Gartner really likes this concept and if you want to know more you can get their paper here.

All this has made me think, and I hope it will make you too. Technology can help us drive our businesses better and understanding your needs can be the first step on your journey, which was the theme of our event in the UK. I spoke to a number of the delegates and I hope to share some of their stories in later posts.

If you have a story to share, the survey is at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P335DD3

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fujitsu Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Debra has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Leader and then Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts

Editor’s Note: Debra has kindly agreed to share her musings and experience in a monthly column on the Fusion Middleware blog so do stay tuned…

Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

It's Coming: Chalk Talk with John

...John Brunswick that is.

Who is this John Brunswick, you ask? John Brunswick is an Enterprise Architect with Oracle. As an Oracle Enterprise Architect, John focuses on the alignment of technical capabilities in support of business vision and objectives, as well as the overall business value of technology. What's more he is pretty handy with animation and digital videos as you will see shortly. Starting tomorrow, we will host a bi-weekly column with John called "Chalk Talk with John".

In our "Chalk Talk with John" series, John will leverage his skills, experience and expertise (& his passion in digital animation) to discuss technology in business terms or as he puts it "so my ma understands what I do for a living". Through this series, John will explore the practical value of Middleware in the context of two fictional communities, shared through analogies aligned to enterprise technology.  This format offers business stakeholders and IT a common language for understanding the benefits of technology in support of their business initiatives, regardless of their current level of technical knowledge.

So, be sure to tune in tomorrow and every 2 weeks for "Chalk Talk with John".


Friday Oct 18, 2013

SOA, Empowerment and Continuous Improvement


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.

I met my twin at Open World. We share backgrounds, experiences and even names.

I hosted an invitation-only AppAdvantage Leadership Forum with an overcapacity - 85 participants: 55 customers, 15 from the Oracle AppAdvantage team and 15 Partners. It was a lively, open and positive discussion of pace layered architectures and Oracle’s AppAdvantage approach to a unified view of Applications and Middleware. Rick Hassman from Pella was one of the customer panelists and during the pre event prep, Rick and I shared backgrounds and found that we had both been plant managers and led ERP deployments prior to leading IT itself. During the panel conversation I explored this with him, discussing the unique perspectives that this provides to CIO’s. He then hit on a point that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate until a week later.

First though, some background. The week after the Forum, one of the participants emailed me with the following thoughts: “I am 150% behind this concept……but we are struggling with the concept of web services and the potential use of the Oracle Service Bus technology let alone moving into using the full SOA/BPM/BAM software to extend our JD Edwards application to both integrate and support business processes”. After thinking a bit I responded this way:

While I certainly appreciate the degree of change and effort involved, perhaps I could offer the following:

  • One of the underlying principles behind Oracle AppAdvantage is that more often than not, the choice between changing a business process and invasively customizing ERP represents a Hobson's Choice: neither is acceptable. In this case the third option, moving the process out of ERP, is the only acceptable one.
  • Providing this choice typically requires end to end, real time interoperability across applications and/or services.
  • This real time interoperability, to be sustainable over time requires a service oriented architecture. There's just no way around this.
  • SOA adaptation is admittedly tough at the beginning. New skills, new technology and new headaches. But, like any radically new technology, it has a learning curve that drives cost down rather dramatically over time.
  • Tough choices to be sure, but not entirely different than we face with every major technology cycle.

Good points of course, but I felt that something was missing. The points were convincing, perhaps even a bit insightful, but they didn’t get at the heart of what Oracle AppAdvantage is focused upon: how the optimization of technology, applications, processes and relationships can change the very way that organizations operate. And then I thought back to the panel discussion with Rick Hassman at Oracle OpenWorld.

Rick stressed that Continuous Improvement is a fundamental business strategy at Pella. I remember Continuous Improvement well as I suspect does everyone who was in American manufacturing during the 80’s. Pioneered by W. Edwards Deming in Japan (and still known alternatively as Kaizen), Continuous Improvement sets in place the business culture that we must not become complacent with success and resistant to the ongoing need for change. Many believe that this single handedly drove the renaissance in American manufacturing through the last two decades, which had become complacent during the 70’s and early 80’s. But what exactly does this have to do with SOA? It was Rick’s next point.

He drew the connection that moving those business processes that need to continually change over time out of ERP and into edge applications and services enables continuous improvement by empowering people to continually strive for better ways of doing things rather than be being bound by workflows that cannot change.

A compelling connection: that SOA, and the overall Oracle AppAdvantage framework of which it is an integral part, can empower people towards continuous improvement in business processes and as a result drive business leadership and business excellence. What better a case for technology innovation?

Friday Oct 11, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld 2013 - Real-World Cloud Integration Session Highlights

Rajesh Raheja
It was a great week at Oracle OpenWorld 2013 in San Francisco. There are other blog posts that cover the overall themes, general SOA and Cloud sessions, so in this post, I would like to present my thoughts on two of my sessions focused on hybrid cloud integration.

The Monday evening Birds of a Feather session "Using Patterns to Simplify Integration of Cloud Services with On-Premises Applications" was a reminder of how important cloud integration was to real-world practitioners. We had 3/4 of the room filled with attendees at 7:15pm, with more than 80% actively engaged in cloud integration projects. What followed was a lively discussion around various topics of interest, which not only gave us great inputs from the product side, but also allowed attendees to learn from each other. The panel consisted of our product management and architecture team, including myself, Vikas Anand, Simone Geib, Ravi Sankaran; and also a last minute surprise entry by Dave Shaffer (Middleworks), who engaged the attendees with deep, probing questions.

Some insights from the attendees:
  • Number of Integrations: 5 or more cloud apps typically with a variety of SaaS apps including Cornerstone, E2Open, Eloqua, NetSuite, Oracle Fusion Applications, Oracle OnDemand, Salesforce.com, Servicenow. One customer had 19 different SaaS instances (one per country), and another had 30+ cloud based applications!
  • Business Processes: Sales and Marketing (Quote to Cash) and also ERP (Record to Report, Procure to Pay). Interestingly, while most used on-premises systems as "systems of record", in many cases, a a hybrid approach was preferred. Interesting implications for MDM and data governance in the days ahead.
  • Integration Styles: Most used all types of integration including real-time, bulk, batch and files. There was significant interest in Managed File Transfer (MFT) for monitoring file based interactions within the enterprise and to the cloud.
Challenges faced by the attendees in cloud integration:

  • Connectivity: Connection pooling, number of concurrent sessions, timeouts/limitations on usage of API callouts
  • Granularity: Too granular service operations
  • Reliability: Reliable message ordering and sequencing, reliability when cloud apps not available, handling retries automatically, traceability and audit in case of "lost" messages
  • Flexibility: Impact on API changes on point-to-point integration with cloud apps
  • Protocols: Plethora of protocols that don't necessarily simplify cloud integration: as one attendee put it ... "nowadays, everyone with an open HTTP port claims to be a cloud provider"

The session was a great lead-in for the Wed morning cloud integration session "Real-World Cloud Integration Simplified with Oracle SOA Suite" with myself, Vikas Anand and Raghu Kadirvelu (from Bristlecone Inc.).

I covered the general challenges faced with cloud integration, followed by Vikas who introduced new cloud adapters that simplify some of those challenges. Raghu then gave a live demo of Salesforce.com to Oracle E-Business Suite Opportunity-to-Quote integration. A prominent SOA architect has put a detailed blog post on the session, and here is what he had to say.

Best SOA Presentation at OOW13!

The reason I mention his quote is not to encourage you to read that blog post (ok, maybe that IS one reason :), but to highlight the fact WHY the message resonated so well with the audience. As the Birds of a Feather session indicated, the cloud integration challenges are real, and pandemic. Customers are frustrated with SaaS application vendors treating the problem superficially, confusing "connectivity" with "integration",  and claiming victory with YouTube videos show casing "10 minutes to integrate with <your favorite SaaS app>".

cloud integration challenges

This session highlighted the real challenges, what it takes to solve them, and gave a live working demo of how we believe Oracle SOA Suite can help. Overall, it was a fantastic session and a great pleasure meeting many of you personally.

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