Oracle WebCenter: Composite Applications & Mashups
By Kellsey Ruppel on Aug 22, 2011
Today, it’s pretty apparent that IT and the business work in different cycles. IT focuses on long-term stability, predictability, and cost reduction. Businesses tend to respond to short-term opportunities and market shifts even as they plan for long-term growth and profitability. Businesses like to respond; change, therefore, is constant in business and it has often been difficult for IT to change at the speed of business. What is needed is a business-oriented approach for building solutions. One that is flexible enough to change in near real-time as business and IT needs evolve.
One way to approach this is through composite applications and mashups. By adding a flexible mashup layer on top of existing systems and applications, the business is able to drive change. Processes and user interfaces can be mashed-up on the fly by using readily available business services, making it easy to quickly change these composite applications and mashups within hours rather than days or weeks.
As you know a mashup is a combination of information (internal or external) that is brought together to provide a valuable service. Many simple examples include combining mapping information like home locations with list prices and sellers. In this way, I can get a quick view of all the homes for sale in a specific neighborhood in which I want to live. I want the same service as a sales rep when I go to decide how I will plan my week. I want to see all my prospective customers within a certain area so that I can plan accordingly. Or I want to combine my current prospect s with a list of all the product issues they registered over the last year so that I can make sure they are addressed before I arrive. A mashup allows the business user to quickly assemble this view from the different parts or sources supplied from IT.
Oracle WebCenter provides a rich set of tools and capabilities for pulling in content, applications and collaboration functionality from various different sources and weaving them together into what we call Mashups. Mashups that also consists of transactional applications from multiple sources are specifically called Composite Applications.
With Oracle WebCenter, one can develop highly productive tasked based interfaces that aggregate a related set of applications that are part of a business process and provide in context collaboration tools so that users don’t have to navigate away to different tabs to achieve these tasks. For instance, a call center representative (CSR), not only needs to be able to pull customer information from a CRM application like Siebel, but also related information from Oracle E-Business Suite about whether a specific order has shipped. The CSR will be far more efficient if he or she does not have to open different tabs to login into multiple applications while the customer is waiting, but can access all this information in one mashup.
Oracle WebCenter provides a comprehensive set of tooling that enables a business user to quickly aggregate together a mashup and wire-in different backend applications to create a custom dashboard. Not only does Oracle WebCenter supports a wide set of standards (WSRP 1.0, 2.0, JSR 168, JSR 286) that allow portlets from other applications to be surfaced within WebCenter, but it also provides tools to bring in other web applications such as .Net Applications as well as SharePoint webparts. The new Business Mash-up editor allows business users to take any Oracle Application or 3rd party application and wire the backend data sources or APIs to a rich set of visualizations and reuse them in mashups. Moreover, Business users can customize or personalize any page using Oracle WebCenter Composer’s on-the-fly visual page editing features. Users access and select different resource components available in Oracle WebCenter’s Business Dictionary in order to add new content to the page. The Business Dictionary provides a role-based view of available components or resources, and these components can include information from a variety of enterprise resources such as enterprise applications, managed content, rich media, business processes, or business intelligence systems. Together, Oracle WebCenter’s Composer and Business Dictionary give users access to a powerful, yet easy to use, set of tools to personalize and extend their Oracle WebCenter portals and applications without involving IT.
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