COMMENT: Analyst’s Corner
Integration Made SimpleBy David Baum
Tools and strategies improve application implementations.
Oracle Magazine spoke with Michael Fauscette, group vice president for software business solutions at IDC, about techniques for streamlining enterprise software implementations.
Oracle Magazine: What are the primary challenges companies face when integrating enterprise applications, and how are software vendors such as Oracle addressing these challenges?
Fauscette: One of the biggest challenges involves creating and synchronizing business processes across multiple applications. For example, when you process an order, you also want to update your inventory tables, create an invoice, and coordinate packaging and shipping. Once you start looking at these business processes holistically, it makes sense for the software vendor to provide a framework for structuring those process integrations for you. That’s why in the past many customers tried to standardize on one enterprise software suite, or at least on applications from a small number of vendors.
In today’s environment, where IT shops are often heterogeneous, it’s even more critical to have an established method for integrating among disparate applications. For example, if you are aligned with a vendor such as Oracle, you can get packaged process integrations and a toolkit to simplify enterprise implementations. That’s why more companies are standardizing on an integration toolkit for all of their integration needs. This is a real advantage for the IT organization.
Oracle Magazine: How do software standards help companies integrate their packaged applications?
Fauscette: Most modern enterprise resource planning [ERP] suites are built on top of a SOA framework that supplies native messaging and services to link applications and business functions. Vendors such as Oracle expose application functions as Web services and, over time, expand the number of services. This gives customers flexibility to connect core applications with custom or third-party functionality.
Oracle Magazine: What are the advantages of acquiring enterprise applications, database, and middleware from the same vendor?
Fauscette: Preintegration is often an advantage or at least a time-saver during the implementation. Customers are reassured that the various parts of the stack have been developed to the same standards and tested together and that they leverage the same management tools. For example, Oracle applications customers that also use Oracle Database can take advantage of Oracle Real Application Clusters to improve scalability and availability. Plus they have Oracle Enterprise Manager to manage it all and a common toolset for building new capabilities.
In general, the more homogeneous the environment, the better. Of course there are a lot of exceptions. In some cases you need to integrate different vendor packages, and that’s where middleware helps you do the job.
Oracle Magazine: How does Oracle Application Integration Architecture improve or simplify integration?
Fauscette: Oracle Application Integration Architecture provides a solid foundation that is consistent and SOA-based. It includes packaged integrations that you can use across multiple processes and vendors. These prebuilt integrations and workflows reduce development time and costs. Oracle Application Integration Architecture also provides a foundation and associated toolkit for configuring each application to work in your environment. Oracle Application Integration Architecture is open and standards-based, which is important when you’re talking about integration, because most organizations have heterogeneous IT environments.
Oracle Application Integration Architecture also supports hybrid deployment models. For example, you might integrate on-demand applications with on-premises applications, yet they will work as if both applications have been installed in the same datacenter.
Oracle Magazine: Do these packaged integrations limit organizations?
Fauscette: You actually have a lot of flexibility because you have an out-of-the-box foundation that you can extend the way you need to. Combining some prebuilt integrations on top of a robust toolkit that allows the extension of the integrations across multiple environments and applications is very effective.
David Baum (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance business writer based in Santa Barbara, California.
IDC (www.idc.com) is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.