Oracle recently announced its application integration architecture, and has the market thinking how this reflects on its Fusion strategy. It would seem that it is actually part of the whole Fusion approach, and it should help to get the Fusion message across to customers better. There had previously been ample opportunity for competitors to poke fun at the company with a ‘confusion’ message.
Essentially, the application integration architecture (AIA) can be regarded as a business process platform based on standards, which supports pre-defined but modifiable process flows across existing Oracle applications and third-party services. It is this ‘existing’ piece of the message that helps to get the full service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach across better.
The premise of AIA is that pre-built orchestrations or integration processes are required that layer across existing applications. These need to be made up of common processes, objects, and services. To facilitate this, Oracle has defined a number of enterprise business objects based on the Open Application Group’s business documents.
On top of this, there are a number of enterprise business services, covering common services such as get account balance and update purchase order – these are really application independent and do not depend on any particular underlying application such as the Oracle E-Business Suite. This is an interesting aspect as this means that processes could include services that have not been developed by Oracle, such as those created by independent software vendors, the customer themselves, or even a competitor.
As part of AIA, Oracle intends to deliver both horizontal and industry-specific process integration packs (PIPs) – yet another new acronym – which provide pre-integrated business flows across the company’s application portfolio. Each PIP uses Oracle Fusion Middleware SOA Suite, especially the Business Process Automation Suite, which is based on the OEM arrangement with IDS Scheer for process modeling. This methodology, of using pre-built integration packs, has been designed to enable a quick implementation by customers or partners.
The initial PIPs that will be available include: Oracle’s Siebel CRM On Demand Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite, which is intended to support the opportunity-to-quote process, and includes automatic conversion of opportunities to quotes and quotes to orders; and Oracle’s Siebel CRM Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite Order Management, which should support the order-to-cash process lifecycle (including capabilities for product configuration, checking inventory availability, automated order processing, price synchronization, and real-time order status). At present, the costs of these have not been released.
Undoubtedly, the major challenges with any business application include understanding how the overall process is designed, where it needs to be altered to fit the organization’s own processes, and how to integrate this with existing technologies, as well as with new services that are developed or purchased over time.
Interestingly, Oracle’s new announcement is comparable to the approaches that Infor, SAP, and even Lawson have been pursuing. A process-centric approach based on common business-relevant entities or objects is easier for business to understand; adding the pre-constructed integration capability is where Oracle’s PIPs will add value.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)