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.
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>".
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.