Monday Aug 22, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Composite Applications & Mashups

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.

This week we want to focus on Composite Applications and Mashups and I recently spoke with Sachin Agarwal, Director of Product Management for WebCenter Portal at Oracle around this topic. Here’s a summary of the insight Sachin provided.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­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.

Looking for more information on Composite Applications and Mashups? Check out these resources:

Monday Aug 15, 2011

Oracle WebCenter at Oracle OpenWorld 2011: Overview

Oracle OpenWorld less is than 7 weeks away, and we are gearing up for one of our best events yet! With over 40 scheduled sessions, 6 dedicated live demos, and 6 hands-on labs, you won't want to miss this opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in Oracle WebCenter, network with your peers and discuss the latest social business topics with Oracle experts. 

This year's conference, which will take place in San Francisco October 2-6, will include a special focus on the recently rebranded Oracle WebCenter, which is the user engagement platform for social business, connecting people and information.

So, you’ve registered for Oracle OpenWorld 2011. There’s nothing more to do, right? Not so fast. You still need to reserve your seat for the sessions. And that’s where the online Schedule Builder comes in.Use it to navigate the conference schedule. View detailed information on sessions and activities, including schedule updates and recommendations. Create a customized schedule, making reservations for the sessions that interest you most. Plus, you can email your schedule to yourself, or print it in various formats including pocket-sized. And if the session is full, the system will notify you when space becomes available.Seating is limited for many sessions, available on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t be left out. Create your schedule now. This week we'll be highlighting the top don't miss sessions, demos and Hand-on Labs you'll want to be sure to include in your schedule, so keep checking back for more information.

Haven't registered for Oracle OpenWorld yet? Don't worry, there is still time! But you should act fast, as you won't want to miss this exclusive opportunity to attend the most important educational and networking event of the year for Oracle technologists, customers, and partners. And as an added bonus, you can see Sting perform live!

Thursday Aug 04, 2011

5 Best Practices - Laying the Foundation for WebCenter Projects

Today’s guest post comes from Oracle WebCenter expert John Brunswick. John specializes in enterprise portal and content management solutions and actively contributes to the enterprise software business community and has authored a series of articles about optimal business involvement in portal, business process management and SOA development, examining ways of helping organizations move away from monolithic application development. We’re happy to have John join us today!

 Maximizing success with Oracle WebCenter portal requires a strategic understanding of Oracle WebCenter capabilities.  The following best practices enable the creation of portal solutions with minimal resource overhead, while offering the greatest flexibility for progressive elaboration.

They are inherently project agnostic, enabling a strong foundation for future growth and an expedient return on your investment in the platform.  If you are able to embrace even only a few of these practices, you will materially improve your deployment capability with WebCenter.

1. Segment Duties Around 3Cs - Content, Collaboration and Contextual Data

"Agility" is one of the most common business benefits touted by modern web platforms.  It sounds good - who doesn't want to be Agile, right?  How exactly IT organizations go about supplying agility to their business counterparts often lacks definition - hamstrung by ambiguity.

Ultimately, businesses want to benefit from reduced development time to deliver a solution to a particular constituent, which is augmented by as much self-service as possible to develop and manage the solution directly.  All done in the absence of direct IT involvement.

With Oracle WebCenter's depth in the areas of content management, pallet of native collaborative services, enterprise mashup capability and delegated administration, it is very possible to execute on this business vision at a technical level.

To realize the benefits of the platform depth we can think of Oracle WebCenter's segmentation of duties along the lines of the 3 Cs - Content, Collaboration and Contextual Data.  All three of which can have their foundations developed by IT, then provisioned to the business on a per role basis.

  • Content – Oracle WebCenter benefits from an extremely mature content repository.  Work flow, audit, notification, office integration and conversion capabilities for documents (HTML & PDF) make this a haven for business users to take control of content within external and internal portals, custom applications and web sites.  When deploying WebCenter portal take time to think of areas in which IT can provide the "harness" for content to reside, then allow the business to manage any content items within the site, using the content foundation to ensure compliance with business rules and process.  This frees IT to work on more mission critical challenges and allows the business to respond in short order to emerging market needs.
  • Collaboration – Native collaborative services and WebCenter spaces are a perfect match for business users who are looking to enable document sharing, discussions and social networking.  The ability to deploy the services is granular and on the basis of roles scoped to given areas of the system - much like the first C “content”.  This enables business analysts to design the roles required and IT to provision with peace of mind that users leveraging the collaborative services are only able to do so in explicitly designated areas of a site.  Bottom line - business will not need to wait for IT, but cannot go outside of the scope that has been defined based on their roles.
  • Contextual Data – Collaborative capabilities are most powerful when included within the context of business data.  The ability to supply business users with decision shaping data that they can include in various parts of a portal or portals, just as they would with content items, is one of the most powerful aspects of Oracle WebCenter.  Imagine a discussion about new store selection for a retail chain that re-purposes existing information from business intelligence services about various potential locations and or custom backend systems - presenting it directly in the context of the discussion.  If there are some data sources that are preexisting in your enterprise take a look at how they can be made into discrete offerings within the portal, then scoped to given business user roles for inclusion within collaborative activities.

2. Think Generically, Execute Specifically

Constructs.  Anyone who has spent much time around me knows that I am obsessed with this word.  Why?  Because Constructs offer immense power - more than APIs, Web Services or other technical capability.

Constructs offer organizations the ability to leverage a platform's native characteristics to offer substantial business functionality - without writing code.  This concept becomes more powerful with the additional understanding of the concepts from the platform that an organization learns over time.  Let's take a look at an example of where an Oracle WebCenter construct can substantially reduce the time to get a subscription-based site out the door and into the hands of the end consumer.

Imagine a site that allows members to subscribe to specific disciplines to access information and application data around that various discipline.  A space is a collection of secured pages within Oracle WebCenter.  Spaces are not only secured, but also default content stored within it to be scoped automatically to that space.

Taking this a step further, Oracle WebCenter’s Activity Stream surfaces events, discussions and other activities that are scoped to the given user on the basis of their space affiliations.  In order to have a portal that would allow users to "subscribe" to information around various disciplines - spaces could be used out of the box to achieve this capability and without using any APIs or low level technical work to achieve this.

3. Make Governance Work for You

Imagine driving down the street without the painted lines on the road.  The rules of the road are so ingrained in our minds, we often do not think about the process, but seemingly mundane lane markers are critical enablers.

Lane markers allow us to travel at speeds that would be impossible if not for the agreed upon direction of flow.  Additionally and more importantly, it allows people to act autonomously - going where they please at any given time.  The return on the investment for mobility is high enough for people to buy into globally agreed up governance processes.

In Oracle WebCenter we can use similar enablers to lane markers.  Our goal should be to enable the flow of information and provide end users with the ability to arrive at business solutions as needed, not on the basis of cumbersome processes that cannot meet the business needs in a timely fashion.

How do we do this?

Just as with "Segmentation of Duties" Oracle WebCenter technologies offer the opportunity to compartmentalize various business initiatives from each other within the system due to constructs and security that are available to use within the platform.

For instance, when a WebCenter space is created, any content added within that space by default will be secured to that particular space and inherits meta data that is associated with a folder created for the space.

Oracle WebCenter content uses meta data to support a broad range of rich ECM functionality and can automatically impart retention, workflow and other policies automatically on the basis of what has been defaulted for that space.  Depending on your business needs, this paradigm will also extend to sub sections of a space, offering some interesting possibilities to enable automated management around content.

An example may be press releases within a particular area of an extranet that require a five year retention period and need to the reviewed by marketing and legal before release.  The underlying content system will transparently take care of this process on the basis of the above rules, enabling peace of mind over unstructured data - which could otherwise become overwhelming.

4. Make Your First Project Your Second

Imagine if Michael Phelps was competing in a swimming championship, but told right before his race that he had to use a brand new stroke.  There is no doubt that Michael is an outstanding swimmer, but chances are that he would like to have some time to get acquainted with the new stroke.

New technologies should not be treated any differently.  Before jumping into the deep end it helps to take time to get to know the new approach - even though you may have been swimming thousands of times before.

To quickly get a handle on Oracle WebCenter capabilities it can be helpful to deploy a sandbox for the team to use to share project documents, discussions and announcements in an effort to help the actual deployment get under way, while increasing everyone’s knowledge of the platform and its functionality that may be helpful down the road.

Oracle Technology Network has made a pre-configured virtual machine available for download that can be a great starting point for this exercise.

5. Get to Know the Community

If you are reading this blog post you have most certainly faced a software decision or challenge that was solved on the basis of a small piece of missing critical information - which took substantial research to discover.  Chances were also good that somewhere, someone had already come across this information and would have been excited to share it.

There is no denying the power of passionate, connected users, sharing key tips around technology.  The Oracle WebCenter brand has a rich heritage that includes industry-leading technology and practitioners.  With the new Oracle WebCenter brand, opportunities to connect with these experts has become easier.

Additionally, there are various Oracle WebCenter related blogs by an excellent grouping of services partners.

Open World

If you are attending Oracle Open World, it would be a pleasure to say hello and discuss this post in further detail. Be sure to attend my session “6 Counterintuitive Best Practices for Enterprise 2.0 Adoption.”

Wednesday Aug 03, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Build Composite Applications

You've heard about the rebrand of WebCenter, now it's time to see it in action! View this demo to see how you can build engaging and intuitive interfaces for your Enterprise Applications with Oracle WebCenter. 


Tuesday Aug 02, 2011

Panda Security Improves Customer Satisfaction with Oracle WebCenter

Founded in 1990, Panda Security is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based security solutions with products available in more than 23 languages and millions of users located in 200 countries around the world. Among its latest offerings is Panda Cloud Antivirus (www.cloudantivirus.com), a free, hosted solution that customers can download and manage remotely.


Since it was introduced in 2009, some 15 million home users have downloaded the anti-malware service. Read this ROI case study to learn how Oracle WebCenter provides a user experience platform and gives Panda Security customers 100%, anytime, anywhere access to leading products. You can learn even more about what Oracle WebCenter has done for Panda Security in this podcast.

Monday Aug 01, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Delivering Intuitive Experiences for Enterprise Applications

We recently announced the new Oracle WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social business, connecting people and information. With this announcement the WebCenter brand covers portal, web experience management, content, and social and collaboration technologies into a single product suite that can be easily integrated with enterprise applications.  You can see the announcement webcast now on-demand. Last week we talked about the connect pillar of WebCenter, and this week will we focus on the portal pillar.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sachin Agarwal, Director of product management for Oracle WebCenter portal. Here is a recap of our conversation. 

Q: What are the portal capabilities within Oracle WebCenter?
A: Oracle WebCenter’s portal capabilities deliver intuitive user experiences for enterprise applications. This complete, open and integrated enterprise portal and composite applications solution enables the development and deployment of internal and external portals and websites, composite applications and mash-ups with integrated social and collaboration services and enterprise content management capabilities.  Oracle WebCenter delivers social and collaborative services to help optimize connections between people, information and applications, provides business activity streams so users can navigate, discover and access content in context, and offers dynamic personalization of applications, portals and sites so users have a customized experience. Oracle WebCenter builds on the best user experience capabilities from a significant portfolio of leading portal products and related technologies and provides the foundation for delivering the next-generation user experience for Oracle Fusion Middleware as well as Oracle Fusion Applications.


Figure 1: WebCenter portal provides a single point of access for both internal and external constituents to support collaborative, analytical and social processes critical to your business.

Q: How is Oracle WebCenter different from other portal offerings out there?
A: Oracle WebCenter allows users to easily create dynamic enterprise portals such as intranets and extranets. With Oracle WebCenter you can create out-of-the-box communities, allowing you to create individual, team and organizational work environments to connect people and content. Personalized dashboards let users monitor performance and minimize the page transitions by integrating information and keeping it in the context of the activity, action, or task that they are attempting to complete.

I think the biggest key here is that you are able to access content and applications from the portal in context of whatever business process or activity you are working on. This is a huge benefit for users, as they don’t have to jump from system to system and are able to work more efficiently.

Figure 2: Seamlessly manage and expose content, images and video from across your enterprise directly in the context of WebCenter portal.

Q: Can you build composite applications with Oracle WebCenter?
A: With Oracle WebCenter, you can easily assemble composite applications and mashups with Oracle’s common user experience architecture. This includes best practices and design patterns for developing next generation user experiences and is based on Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), the common development framework for all Oracle Fusion Middleware user interfaces and Oracle Fusion Applications. In this way, you can easily extend existing applications and Oracle Fusion Applications with reusable, standards-based components.

Figure 3: Easily mashup information from various internal and external sources without writing code.

Q: Is WebCenter Spaces part of Oracle WebCenter portal or Oracle WebCenter connect?
A: WebCenter Spaces is now a feature offered as part of Oracle WebCenter portal, along with Framework and Services. Oracle WebCenter connect provides contextual social and collaboration capabilities.

Q: If someone is an existing Oracle WebCenter Suite customer, what does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean to them for their short-term (3-9 months) deployment plans?
A: With the rebrand, we are making it easier to maximize the value of your investment by making it clearer how all our products fit together into a larger portfolio. This will also lay the grounds for tighter integrations within the products in the larger portfolio, ie much more integrated Content, and Collaboration services along with the capability to leverage a common architecture for search, mobile, application integration and other shared services across the portfolio.

Q: What does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean for customers who are currently on WebLogic Portal, WebCenter Interaction, Oracle Portal or Sun Portal?
A: The rebranded Oracle WebCenter portal along with the larger portfolio provides a more compelling solution for these customers. As we have mentioned in the past, there are new releases of the existing products and Oracle has committed to extended support through 2017. This will give customers plenty of time to consider the most cost effective and productive path forward. We continue to enhance the existing products with new customer enhancements all the time. While they apply these new releases to their existing deployments, they should take advantage of some of the new Oracle WebCenter features directly. Customers can rest assured that their investment in Oracle solutions is safe.

Learn more about Oracle WebCenter portal.

Wednesday Jul 13, 2011

Enabling Social Businesses by Connecting People and Information

Today Oracle announced the new Oracle WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social businesses, connecting people and information. It brings together the most complete portfolio of portal, web experience management, content, social and collaboration technologies into a single product suite that can be easily integrated with enterprise applications.

Oracle WebCenter is the convergence point for the Enterprise 2.0 portfolio, and brings together the Portal, Content, Social and Web Experience management solutions into a single product suite. 

Read the press release.  Please also join us today for a live webcast introducing what’s next in user engagement.

Oracle WebCenter enables organizations to:

  • Improve customer loyalty and sales by helping marketing-driven organizations deliver contextual and targeted web experiences to users
  • Provide employees anytime, anywhere access to information and applications in context of an interaction and business process through portals and composite applications
  • Enable people work together more efficiently through contextual collaboration tools that optimizing connections between people, information and applications
  • Ensure people access the right information in the context of the application or business process they are working on

Register online for What's Next in User Engagement?

Presented by:

Hasan Rizvi
Hasan Rizvi
Senior Vice President,
Oracle Fusion Middleware
and Java
Kumar Vora
Kumar Vora
Senior Vice President of Development,
Oracle
Andy MacMillan
Andy MacMillan
Vice President
of Product Management,
Oracle

Monday Jul 11, 2011

What's Next in User Engagement?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET

Please join Oracle executives in an exclusive webcast as they share what's next in user engagement. You'll hear our key executives discuss how Oracle is committed to delivering the user engagement platform to connect people and information and how Oracle will continue to deliver on and expand the most complete, open, integrated, and best-of-breed solutions to transform your organization into a social business.

Register online for What's Next in User Engagement?

Presented by:

Hasan Rizvi
Hasan Rizvi
Senior Vice President,
Oracle Fusion Middleware
and Java
Kumar Vora
Kumar Vora
Senior Vice President of Development,
Oracle
Andy MacMillan
Andy MacMillan
Vice President
of Product Management,
Oracle
About

Oracle WebCenter portal is a portal and composite applications solution that delivers intuitive user experiences for the enterprise that are seamlessly integrated with your enterprise applications.

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