Great Integrations

Cloud-based integration reduces complexity and connects the enterprise.

By David Baum

July/August 2017

Integration technology is fundamental to business operations, but connecting information systems is becoming progressively more complicated as data pours in from so many types of systems, applications, and devices—from on-premises data centers as well as from an incredible variety of third-party applications and services.

We made the decision to move away from a third-party integration product and centralize all of our integrations around Oracle Integration Cloud. ”
–Doug Berringer, Business Solutions Architect, Calix

“Today’s IT professionals must contend with everything from legacy applications to IoT [Internet of Things] sensors to mobile messaging apps using chatbots,” points out Amit Zavery, senior vice president of integration products at Oracle. “Companies need a centralized, well-architected integration hub to deal with it all, as both structured and unstructured information flows from multiple sources to multiple targets. Today, the most versatile integration hubs reside in the cloud.”

For example, Oracle Integration Cloud simplifies the creation of application-to-application (A2A) and business-to-business (B2B) interfaces, Zavery explains. Developers can use this cloud service to develop new interfaces and upload existing ones, but they don’t have to deal with maintaining and managing the integration platform itself—not to mention keeping it current and scaling it as traffic increases. “Oracle handles the infrastructure so customers can focus on core integration tasks and scale their systems as needed,” Zavery adds.

Hybrid Cloud Integration: Calix

For many Oracle customers, part of the journey to the cloud involves figuring out how to connect on-premises enterprise systems with new cloud services from Oracle and other vendors. Consider Calix, a provider of broadband communications access systems and software. When this US$500 million telecommunications product and solutions company set out to create a self-service ecommerce environment that would allow telecommunications companies and other service providers to easily order their communications equipment and software, it used Oracle Integration Cloud to tie it all together.

According to Doug Berringer, business solutions architect at Calix, these telecommunications companies and other service providers need to obtain price quotes before they can purchase Calix’ communications gear. Calix’ existing commerce tools did not allow customers to self serve and required the Calix sales team to be involved in every transaction—leaving the team with less time overall to pursue high-value-add selling activities. For its new self-service ecommerce system, Calix’ IT team decided to use Oracle Integration Cloud to speed up this workflow and simplify the connections with the company’s existing commerce systems so service providers could purchase equipment with little or no intervention by sales personnel.

Petaluma, California
Industry: Communications
Oracle products:
  • Oracle Integration Cloud
  • Oracle Process Cloud Service
  • Oracle Configure, Price, and Quote Cloud (Oracle CPQ Cloud)
  • Oracle Commerce Cloud
  • Oracle E-Business Suite

“When we rolled out Oracle Commerce Cloud, one of the requirements was that it needed to be very tightly integrated with Oracle CPQ Cloud, Salesforce, and ultimately our Oracle E-Business Suite ERP [enterprise resource planning] system to streamline these processes,” explains Berringer. “We made the decision to move away from a third-party integration product and centralize all of our integrations around Oracle Integration Cloud.”

Now, Oracle Integration Cloud manages the exchange of data between Oracle Commerce Cloud and Oracle CPQ Cloud as customers configure, quote, and price their orders via a nimble self-service environment. Oracle Integration Cloud references customer relationship management data from Salesforce, and will soon log orders in the Oracle E-Business Suite system as part of a complete quote-to-order process.

Oracle offers an integrated cloud stack that includes business intelligence, analytics, big data preparation, and other services, which will be valuable in the future. It’s plug-and-play, so we can add cloud services as we go. ”–Lynn Clark, CEO, The Factory

Previously Calix used legacy on-premises integration technology from a third-party vendor, but Berringer says it was slow and inflexible. “The software could talk to Salesforce through a built-in connector, but we couldn’t use it to create arbitrary REST endpoints,” he explains. “And because it could only do scheduled integrations, quotes were transmitted in batch mode every 20 minutes, rather than in real time and on the fly.”

Using Oracle Integration Cloud, Berringer’s team consolidated the interfaces created by that vendor and two other third-party integration tools into a single, cloud-based integration platform. They used the prebuilt adapters in Oracle Integration Cloud to create new interfaces in just a few hours, versus weeks for similar development projects in the past.

“Whether the data comes from the cloud or the data center is no longer a big concern,” Berringer says.

Greenfield Integration: The Factory

Oracle Integration Cloud works hand in hand with Oracle Mobile Cloud Service to connect front-end apps with back-end services handling security and data management, as well as to simplify federated authentication with third-party applications such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. These unified cloud platform services enabled The Factory to revolutionize one of the world’s largest B2B markets: the automotive auctions that move approximately 22 million vehicles in the United States each year.

According to Lynn Clark, CEO at The Factory, most auto dealers acquire vehicles and sell off unwanted inventory through auction houses, an unpredictable process that hasn’t changed much since the days of the horse and buggy. Buyers attend these auctions to physically inspect, appraise, and bid on vehicles, a cumbersome process that is fraught with delays and excessive paperwork. The Factory created a software-as-a-service (SaaS) app to streamline these transactions—not only during automotive auctions but whenever buyers want to evaluate used car inventory.

The Factory
Vero Beach, Florida
Industry: Dealer platform, automotive
Oracle products:
  • Oracle Integration Cloud
  • Oracle Mobile Cloud Service
  • Oracle Database Cloud
  • Oracle Database Backup Cloud Service
  • Oracle Storage Cloud Service
  • Oracle Java Cloud Service
  • Oracle Sales Cloud

Working with Oracle Platinum Partner Sunera Technologies, The Factory used Oracle Cloud to create an online marketplace to simplify wholesale vehicle sales among automotive brokers and dealers. “Our mobile app standardizes the appraisal process and gives dealers all the information they need to make buying decisions,” she notes. “It’s a lot easier than carrying around a clipboard to appraise vehicles, and it allows dealers to appraise vehicles in a standardized way.”

Each appraisal record contains 4 pictures and 24 points of description, along with as many as 9 text or voice descriptions. Oracle Integration Cloud interfaces with third-party cloud services from Black Book and AutoCheck to give buyers a good handle on the condition and value of each vehicle.

One of our IT principles is cloud first. Because our integration platform is now in the cloud, it is very easy to integrate new SaaS or PaaS applications. We can move fast to accommodate new business needs. ”–Harihar Jobanputra, Director, Enterprise Applications and Services, Silver Spring Networks

“Data from all appraisals automatically flows to Oracle Database Cloud, so if another dealer is looking for a particular car, the information is often already available in the system,” explains Jerry Clark, director of technology and development at The Factory. “They can use the app to make offers on vehicles, and the owners of those vehicles can either accept, decline, or counter the offers. It’s easy to conduct appraisals, send buy-figure requests, and receive alerts on their phones about the status.”

Jerry Clark says The Factory decided to use Oracle Cloud technology to develop and deploy this native app because Oracle offers cloud platform services that are fluid and adaptive. “We don’t have to own the equipment. Oracle Cloud is absolutely the way to go, especially for a startup,” he says. He describes Oracle Integration Cloud and Oracle Mobile Cloud Service as the backbone of the new SaaS app. “These platform services do the heavy lifting by governing where the data flows and how calls are routed,” he explains.

According to Zavery, Oracle Cloud includes all the tools that customers need to develop the front-end portions of their mobile apps as well as to connect them with external applications and services. For example, The Factory used Oracle Integration Cloud to create APIs that integrate data from CDK Global, a dealer management system, and with Experian, which runs credit checks and background histories on each car.

“API management is central to cloud integration,” Zavery adds. “Oracle Integration Cloud includes an API portal that governs the creation, exchange, management, and reuse of APIs among developers and third parties, with gateways that can run in the customer’s data center or in the cloud. This helps customers create unified experiences by seamlessly pulling data from multiple applications.”

And because Oracle Cloud can scale on demand, The Factory’s SaaS app can handle a burgeoning volume of traffic. “On a busy weekend, a thousand dealerships could appraise 20 cars per day, which means 20,000 vehicles passing through the system in a short time period,” Jerry Clark says. “We’re confident we can handle the load. Everything flows automatically. Dealers can review appraisal logs on iOS and Android devices, as well as through web portals on their desktops.”

Silver Spring Networks
San Jose, California
Industry: Utility, smart city, and other industrial IoT infrastructure
Oracle products:
  • Oracle Integration Cloud
  • Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud
  • Oracle Configure, Price, and Quote Cloud
  • Oracle SOA Suite
  • Oracle E-Business Suite
  • Agile Product Lifecycle Management

“Oracle gives us credibility as the best database in the world, and now we have a cloud version of that database to anchor our mobile app,” adds Lynn Clark. “Oracle offers an integrated cloud stack that includes business intelligence, analytics, big data preparation, and other services, which will be valuable in the future. It’s plug-and-play, so we can add cloud services as we go. We’re happy we standardized on a complete Oracle stack in the cloud. Oracle was very responsive and quick to understand our business requirements.”

Connecting Supply Chains: Silver Spring Networks

Silver Spring Networks looked to Oracle’s cloud-based integration platform to simplify integration among its cloud and on-premises information systems as well as to forge stronger links with contract manufacturers for shipping orders, returning orders, and fixing and redelivering devices. The company, which calls itself the trademarked “enabler of the Internet of Important Things,” provides cities, utilities, and companies on five continents with a cost-effective, high-performance IoT network and data platform to operate more efficiently, get greener, and empower innovative services that can improve the lives of millions of people. For example, Silver Spring Networks powers wireless networks for utility companies to provide smart metering solutions that facilitate efficient, two-way information flow between consumers and power generation facilities to help improve energy management and service reliability.

Silver Spring Networks’ primary information systems include Oracle E-Business Suite applications handling financials and supply chain, along with one of Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management applications and Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud. The company also depends on SaaS vendors such as Salesforce for sales automation and Concur for expense management and travel management.

Previously, Silver Spring Networks used an on-premises version of Oracle SOA Suite to create interfaces that route data and messages among these disparate application environments. However, according to Harihar Jobanputra, director of Enterprise Applications and Services at Silver Spring Networks, the company became dependent on an old version of the software that was no longer adequate for the company’s security, auditing, and growing compliance requirements. Rather than upgrading its on-premises version of Oracle SOA Suite, Silver Spring Networks subscribed to Oracle Integration Cloud platform as a service (PaaS). “We were able to provision our integration environments and migrate existing integration code without any issues,” says Dinesh Khurana, lead Oracle and SOA administrator at Silver Spring Networks.

Seeing Is Integrating
The Visual Integration Designer in Oracle Integration Cloud lets you drag and drop components to develop integrations. Configure adapters, model data mappings, and activate integrations—all with zero coding.

The company used Oracle Integration Cloud to streamline important business activities that require interfacing with Oracle E-Business Suite, such as managing expenses and simplifying human capital management. It also used the cloud software to establish new B2B integrations for configuring, pricing, quoting, and fulfilling orders, allowing secure communications with contract manufacturers to build and deliver the network equipment that connects the company’s utility meters and IoT routers.

“We rely on Oracle Integration Cloud to synchronize information among business systems for HR systems, employee self-service, and expense management,” says Khurana. He adds that the implementation proceeded quickly because the company didn’t have to develop new interfaces; it simply migrated the ones it had to the cloud and used out-of-the-box adapters to connect to the Oracle E-Business Suite modules.

Of course, as Jobanputra points out, because Oracle Integration Cloud is a PaaS, not a SaaS, offering, his team is still responsible for monitoring and maintaining the interfaces and environments—an effort that is essentially equivalent to what they were doing before with Oracle SOA Suite. However, Oracle Cloud gives the company elasticity to expand as necessary. And because Oracle ensures that Silver Spring Networks is always running the latest versions of its software, Silver Spring Networks has an easier time staying current with the latest security and compliance requirements—and it’s easy to scale as traffic increases. “Our growth patterns indicate that we need to get ready for highly available as well as redundant server additions, which are also justifications for moving to Oracle Cloud,” Jobanputra adds.

Vamshi Lakkakula, lead integration and SOA developer at Silver Spring Networks, says the cloud service is in full production mode, handling between 300 and 500 messages per day and orders with many thousands of lines. He and other members of the integration team can use their current Oracle SOA Suite skills to create new interfaces, and they encountered no issues migrating their on-premises Oracle SOA Suite interfaces to the new environment.

“One of our IT principles is cloud first,” Jobanputra concludes. “Because our integration platform is now in the cloud, it is very easy to integrate new SaaS or PaaS applications. We can move fast to accommodate new business needs. Whether it’s a third-party service such as Salesforce or another Oracle Cloud application, Oracle Integration Cloud enables us to integrate new functionality very quickly.”

Next Steps

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Photography by Luana Azevedo,Unsplash