Can the evolution of service-oriented architecture in vertical markets get a boost from intelligent design?
A framework including best practices and pre-packaged business processes for creating SOA-based vertical applications was unveiled yesterday by Oracle Corp. at its annual user conference in Las Vegas.
The new Oracle Application Integration Architecture is an open, standards-based platform designed to provide business process management (BPM) based on Oracle's Fusion middleware and SOA tools, explained Jose Lazares, Oracle vice president for application strategy/development and application integration architecture. The framework will allow customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to build, tailor and integrate Oracle applications with third party and custom applications, he said in a phone interview from the Las Vegas conference.
To help customers and ISVs get started, the architecture initiative includes pre-built packages of business processes designed for specific vertical markets, including financial services, telecommunications and retail.
"We believe this is a more evolutionary, practical approach to bringing our customers business value today, leveraging new technology, such as our Fusion middleware SOA Suite, demonstrating that value for them and providing guidance and implementation methodology that can evolve and be sustained over time," Lazares said. "It will be a more efficient way to move the entire industry forward on the adoption of a service-oriented architecture and prepare our customers better now for the adoption of Fusion applications in the future, which will be built natively on service-oriented architecture."
Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure for Current Analysis LLC, said with this framework Oracle is recognizing that while the world may be flat, the future of application software sales is vertical.
"Oracle understands one important thing and that is that the days of selling flat horizontally-based applications is over," he said. "To be successful in this current environment you need to be able to speak directly to specific solutions that are specific to industry and even specific to geography."
Traditionally, ISVs have taken the horizontal software products, such as ERP or database technology, and then customized them for their clients' specific vertical needs, Shimmin said. "But Oracle has taken that a step further and is actually building two things," the analyst explained. "One is a framework that is this extensible library of objects and pieces of metadata and practices for specific business processes, for specific verticals. That is something where they know that the ISVs are going to take and run with. At the same time, they are also going to release packages that are actual business processes like order-to-cash for the verticals and release those as productized solutions. I think that's pretty seminal."
The pre-built packages are dubbed Process Integration Packs by Oracle and are based on the BPEL 1.1 implementation currently in Fusion, Lazares said. The vertical processes were developed based on needs of existing customers with input from ISVs, he said.
"From a vertical perspective, working with our system integrator partners and our customers, we've identified a set of mission critical cross-application flows," he explained. "For example, multi-channel order management within the retail space, where you have an Internet channel, a store channel and a store-within-a-store channel. How do you aggregate, decompose and manage fulfillment of those orders across multiple channels?"
Two of the packs based on CRM technology, which Oracle acquired with Siebel Systems, are available now and the rest will be released over the next two years, he said.
As part of the evolutionary approach, Lazares said the packs will move from horizontal to vertical processes. "We start with horizontal processes such as order-to-cash or specific industry processes such as loan origination within retail banking," he explained. "Then over the next year or two start to evolve to be more specific for industries such as telecommunications, retail, financial services, consumer package good and others."
The two packs currently available are:
- Oracle's Siebel CRM On Demand Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite, handles the quote-to-order process.
- Oracle's Siebel CRM Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite Order Management is aimed at the retail sales industry, including the order-to-cash process plus inventory, pricing and inventory status.
Packs schedule for release later this year, include integration of technology from Oracle's acquisitions of PeopleSoft, which also included the J.D. Edwards ERP.