Being recognized by Gartner as a Leader in Enterprise iPaaS in just two years of inception has been the most welcome news yet for our team in 2017.
With the explosive growth in the number of SaaS and PaaS solutions in the past few years, Cloud has transformed into a “best-of-breed playground” where organizations mix and match “specialized” applications that have a specific business function/pillar (for e.g. Sales, Service, Marketing, Talent Management, Payroll etc) and then integrate them to build end to end business solutions.
Enterprise iPaaS platforms have been the new favorite with the Cloud-boomers, with their modern user experience and ease of use, helping bring down costs, accelerate time to market. They also help enterprises find budget and resources for growth-focused innovative projects that can help them differentiate against their competition. In fact, according to Gartner, this fervent demand for and growth of iPaaS is reflected in the growing market segment estimated at around $11 billion today with over 120+ iPaaS vendors in the market today, and projected to hit nearly $15 billion by 2020.
However, there are dangers lurking for organizations who perform the move without having a well-thought-out organization-wide cloud strategy. The truth is that most organizations move to the cloud “incrementally” from within various business units where each team drives their own functional requirements, as well as their own vision of cost savings, simplicity and efficiency. Without an organization-wide cloud strategy, each team drives their own choice of cloud solutions without understanding the organization-wide impact. In the absence of cloud strategy, enterprises continue to spend more time integrating and managing a “Frankenstein" solution rather than spending time in revenue-generating, innovation-focused projects that can help drive growth.
“Cloud helps you to simplify, but it does not change the laws of physics. The more unrelated elements you have in a system, the more issues and problems you’ll have in the implementation and operation—and the more headaches you’ll face every time you do an update.”
- Jon Chorley, GVP, Oracle SCM Cloud
Within organizations who have been successful cloud adopters, Business, IT and LOB/Apps IT Business Units work closely with each other, yet autonomously, knowing very well that modern iPaaS platforms are no magic pill to avoid spaghetti architectural nightmares in the cloud. It takes "Practical Governance,” strategy and processes in the organization to effectively embrace the cloud. Integration is far less a “technical” exercise and far more a “strategy exercise” when it comes to measuring its long term effectiveness within any enterprise.
When Oracle started its journey of Integration in the Cloud a few years ago, we had three key objectives in mind.
1. Simplify SaaS integration as much as possible.
- This made a lot of sense for us to focus on to start with. Oracle itself has a large SaaS footprint, so this was critical for us as well. SaaS applications from Oracle such as Sales Cloud, ERP and CPQ Cloud, as well as those from third parties such as Salesforce, ServiceNow or SuccessFactors, are diverse in form-factors - underlying data models, security policies, APIs, integration patterns (real-time, bulk/batch, file-based), etc. The magnitude of the challenge multiplies with the number of apps being on-boarded within organizations. This rate of adoption and uptake has been on a phenomenal rise as well. Mid-to-large organizations own, on an average, more than 23 SaaS Applications across their enterprise. Plus, you are talking about more than 2300+ SaaS applications in the marketplace today. Talk about scale!
2. Enable ad-hoc and citizen integrators to be able to build and deliver integrations quickly on the platform.
- Unlike years past when IT had massive budgets, several of the new integration projects were now being driven by Lines of Business. As an example, a VP of Sales had annual budgets to modernize Sales Automation. Their team of Apps IT designers were tasked to deliver the solution that involved integrating data and processes amongst various applications. However several of these designers had little to do with traditional integration and middleware technologies in their career. These users were predominantly functional experts with some range of technical skills. They usually look for a modern simple application-centric approach to integration where the focus was more on the functional end to end experience. These teams cared less about the fine-grained control and configuration that traditional SOA offered, and more on ease of use.
3. Enable customers to harness the data and value of their existing on-premises application assets and middleware platforms
- Oracle’s large footprint of 7000+ on-premises middleware customers and over 100,000+ on-premises Database and Enterprise application customers (such as EBS, JDE, Siebel, etc) reflect the scale of the market-segment of enterprises that continue to have application and middleware footprint in their data centers. A large majority of these enterprises already have a cloud strategy in planning and/or execution phase, but they aren't eliminating their on-premises footprint any time soon. Several of these customers want to use the cloud for their digital transformation projects, however the data ownership or residency could continue to be within the on-premises applications. There could also be several business processes running on-premises integrating various resident home-grown systems, enterprise applications and/or trading partners that the customer wishes to continue leveraging. So enabling a hybrid platform for integration was extremely important for ensuring organizations can progressively embrace the cloud - meaningfully.
The past two years have seen us come a very long way, not only in our customer-base (We have grown our iPaaS customer-base five-fold increase in the last two years), but also with respect to significant maturity and completeness of our vision. This is reflected in how our customers and analysts are perceiving us today.
Today, Oracle’s iPaaS portfolio is an extremely rich set of capabilities over various offerings
- Integration Cloud Service (elevated zero-code integration for ad-hoc integrators - optimized for SaaS Integration)
- SOA Cloud Service (Powerful SOA for Integration specialists),
- Process Cloud Service (For Process Automation - Zero code)
- Managed File Transfer Cloud Service (Secure file exchange - zero code)
- Integration Insight Cloud Service (Analytics for ad-hoc Integrators)
- API Platform Cloud Service (For API Design, Management, Discovery and Consumption)
- Self Service Integration Cloud Service (iSaaS for citizen integrators) - Coming soon!
From just over 5 native connectors to on-premises enterprise applications and just one SaaS Connector back in 2015, we have “hyperlooped” to more than 50 feature-rich connectors to various SaaS applications from Oracle and key third party SaaS apps. These connectors/adapters are directly sold and supported by Oracle - and several of these adapters are built and delivered by the SaaS vendors themselves. Being a part of the organization that is also the largest SaaS vendor in the world has also helped our teams understand and work together with various SaaS strategy teams to understand the nitty gritties of the SaaS integration pain-points, key use-cases, and thus ensure that the APIs, integration patterns, practices etc are best in class and supported natively within the platform to simplify SaaS Integration.
Figure 1: The Adapter Library within Oracle Integration Cloud Service
With connectivity challenges, also come security challenges. With the Integration platform running in the Cloud, outside of the enterprise data center, Security is a critical focus to all enterprises. Oracle’s vision is to create the most secure and trusted public cloud infrastructure and platform services for enterprises and government organizations. It’s mission is to build secure public cloud infrastructure and platform services where there is greater trust - where Oracle customers have effective and manageable security to run their workloads with more confidence, and build scalable and trusted secure cloud solutions. In fact, Oracle has published an Oracle Cloud IaaS and PaaS Security whitepaper that outlines the security capabilities of Oracle Cloud. In addition to this, Oracle iPaaS provides powerful and flexible security policies at all layers of communication- Transport level, Message level, and even custom policies, depending on the application. All key security policies such as SSL/TLS, WS-Security, HTTP Basic Auth, SAML, OAuth etc and so on are supported within the iPaaS platform. One of the critical security facets of having an integration platform in the cloud is the requirement to securely integrate with applications and endpoints within the customer’s enterprise (e.g. an EBS PL/SQL API or an SAP BAPI). ICS comes with a secure Connectivity Agent that enables secure connectivity to any on-premises application without needing to open up a pinhole in the Customer’s firewall. This helps enterprises have shorter and more effective conversations with their security teams while on-boarding their iPaaS platform in the Cloud.
The increased number of traditional “SOA” middleware customers embracing the cloud also brought forward major Enterprise-Readiness requirements to us - including more advanced integration constructs, enterprise-grade orchestration, monitoring and error handling capabilities etc and so on. Several of these customers expect the same elevated “zero-code” user experience of ICS while modeling more advanced multi-step orchestrations. While we were designing and delivering these next-generation capabilities, we did UX and functional design-partnership with “Integration Specialists” from several of these early-adopter customers from the “SOA” side to ensure that the new rich user-experience on the Web is more elevated, require users to understand lesser number of concepts and underlying technical details while delivering the same power-packed functionality. Today, ICS supports a modern multi-step orchestration designer and runtime with rich logical constructs for conditional routing, iterations, scheduling, fault handling and so on, with advanced resiliency features, all with no-code.
Figure 2: The zero-code Orchestration designer with “No source view”
These elevated experiences, in no way, makes SOA less significant for enterprises. Requirements for advanced SOA will continue to exist for several enterprises - SOA helps organizations implement medium to very complex use-cases, and provide the integration specialists the much required control over the ecosystem through its powerful toolsets, scripts and management consoles. Being able to run SOA in the Cloud using Oracle SOA Cloud Service, an integral part of Oracle’s iPaaS portfolio, provides an easy way for customers to quickly provision and run SOA projects in the cloud, including dev/test (and thus avoid major operational expenses and project delays), and/or lift-shift existing SOA projects from on-premises to the Cloud to accommodate a shift in the Application center of gravity.
Together with ICS and SOACS, customers can run a true Bimodal practice in their organization and help overcome two critical competing priorities - the priority to provide advanced, stable, secure, high performance services and that to deliver, innovative, technology-intensive services quickly.
I would also like to add another popular and critical aspect of our ecosystem - a large partner community - delivering connectivity and pre-built solutions for our platform. These connectors and packaged integrations will be available on our Cloud Marketplace for discovery and use within your integrations.
The Oracle Integration and API Partner summits are now running across various cities in North America and across the globe - all of them are currently overbooked. In fact, we just wrapped up an exciting, well attended summit at Reston, VA on Integration and APIs. Partners have been working with us on various fronts. Several of them work with us on native connectivity/integration with several applications such as Adobe eSign, MS Dynamics CRM and several others. Some of the partners have delivered packaged integrations between various apps such as Salesforce.com, SAP, Ariba, Successfactors and so on, whereas others have built dedicated Center of Excellence and Practice for delivering Integration projects on Oracle’s Integration Cloud Platform. With the breadth and skillset available on the product and platform, customers won’t have shortage of skill sets when it comes to engaging a skilled SI to deliver an integration project on Oracle iPaaS.
The capabilities do not stop here. There is the rich process designer for the human element in business processes, the very critical API-driven experience with Oracle’s API Platform which allows organizations to deliver and consume capabilities incrementally and scalably within and across enterprises, the Integration Analytics that is so easy to use for critical Business Insight into important transactions, the Self Service Integration Cloud that Business Users can use to automate their critical day to day business activities with absolutely no knowledge of Integration technologies and so much more!
The difference between “Vision with the Cloud" and a "Clouded Vision" is all about your understanding of the business challenges involved in your move/execution in the cloud, choice of products and platform your organization has chosen for building a solution. It all all boils down to your organizations’ overall cloud strategy - getting that right, and across all your teams is most important. With Oracle’s iPaaS platform, we try to simplify a critical part of that problem - the pervasive integration challenge - and I believe we’ve got good at it!
Join us at Gartner AADI in London to hear more about Oracle Integration Cloud Service and the rest of the Cloud Platform for Integration.