Precision is paramount at Agilent Technologies Inc., a world-leading electronic and bio-analytical measurement company. Through its four lines of business—chemical analysis, life sciences, diagnostics and genomics, and electronic measurement—Agilent helps scientists, researchers, and engineers to accelerate innovation. For examples, its products are used to test more than half of the world’s 1.13 billion cell phones and help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to analyze disease causes and develop new treatments. Its solutions also help the military to become more flexible and mobile, and support efforts to keep air, water, soil, and food clean and safe.
The company looks to deliver the same precision and innovation to its IT environment. Oracle Fusion Middleware, including Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle Access and Identity Management Suite, and Oracle WebCenter Portal, as well as Oracle Database, Oracle E-Business Suite, and Oracle’s Siebel Customer Relationship Management applications factor heavily into this equation.
Agilent implemented Oracle Fusion Middleware components to reduce IT costs and complexity, accelerate time to value, expand the impact of its enterprise applications, and drive its business forward. It increased electronic measurement customer interactions via the web portal and realized a 60% jump in customer satisfaction with the portal experience. Agilent automated identity provisioning and management capabilities, creating single sign-on and gaining the ability to provision a new employee or consultant for IT access in 20 minutes instead of five days. It also cut the average time needed to build new Oracle Fusion Middleware interfaces and is saving more than US$1 million annually in integration-related costs.
The markets that Agilent serves change rapidly, so it is important that the company maintains a solid understanding of its customers’ needs and requirements. Agilent’s electronic measurement group understood that its web presence offered an increasingly important and valuable way to interact with customers, provide them with personalized information, and gain new insight into market trends. The company’s disparate web presence and customer information silos, however, did not enable the transparency and agility that Agilent needed to fully realize these benefits. The website also did not support the integrated, seamless customer experience to which the company was aspiring.
“We wanted to provide our electronic measurement group customers with a single myAgilent portal where they could seamlessly interact and conduct business with the company, including checking order status, getting news that is pertinent to them, seeing products that are of interest to them, and even participating in discussion forums. We achieved this objective with Oracle WebCenter Portal, Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite, and Oracle Application Development Framework,” said Balganesh Krishnamurthy, Solution Architect, Agilent.
Today, the company is creating a single view of customers, whether they come in for a discussion forum or to track an order. Agilent also has a single location to manage identities and can analyze how customers are using the company’s web applications. As important, it can serve up personalized content, based on a user’s interactions with the site.
Agilent went live with its MyAgilent portal in the fall of 2012 and realized several important gains in the first six months. First, the electronic-measurement group is seeing more customer interactions via the web portal and there was a 60% jump in customer satisfaction with the site. Users can now log in a single time to access all portal applications and services. Integration with the company’s Oracle iStore and Oracle Order Management applications—Oracle E-Business Suite solutions— enables customers to seamlessly order parts and track order status. In addition, users can seamlessly open service requests via the portal. Agilent is using Oracle Application Development Framework to efficiently create task flows as well as new applications behind the portal.
Agilent is improving time-to-market for new functionality and web applications, with a target of shrinking the development lifecycle by 60% to three-to-four months, versus 8 to 10 months.
The MyAgilent portal supports 15 languages, and it had more than 120,000 users approximately 12 months after go live. It is equipped with locale detection using geographic internet protocol mapping to set the correct localization for each page’s language and content. During peak use, the portal supports more than 2 million hits in 24 hours.
Thanks to Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite, each user and customer has a centrally managed identity. As a result, users can log in to the portal via different devices and browsers and still receive their personalized content.
“We plan to continue to expand the portal—which we can easily do with Oracle WebCenter Portal—to include functionality for managing contracts, quotes, configurations, and more. Ultimately, the portal will significantly automate the buying cycle, as well as provide a clear and compelling value proposition to customers in exchange for information that enables us to deliver a more personalized experience,” Krishnamurthy said.
Agilent also uses Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite to manage provisioning and access to its enterprise applications. The IT group manages more than 75 applications, including Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle’s Siebel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications. Many of these systems contain highly sensitive data about financial and intellectual property.
The company had been managing user access with a mix of manual, home-grown, and commercial, off-the-shelf, user-provisioning systems. It created multiple processes across the business units and applications, making user identities difficult and expensive to manage and maintain, while complicating the user experience.
Agilent first used Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite to automate access to Oracle E-Business Suite applications, followed by Siebel modules and other third-party systems. The solution provisions workflow for account requests and modification, automates account and password setup, and enables self-service password reset. It also supports user access reviews, automates transfer and termination detection as well as account deprovisioning, and expands illicit provisioning detection.
Today, the company can provision a new employee or consultant in 20 minutes, which represents an important productivity gain. Previously, it took up to five days to complete provisioning, limiting new employee and consultant productivity during their first days onboard. In addition, the company has reduced its number of identity management-related IT service tickets by 25%, enabling it to better leverage internal, IT human resources for more strategic assignments and cut costs. In addition, since the company uses IT outsourcing services, it can leverage the reduction in service tickets as a bargaining tool to drive down future contract costs.
Agilent’s legacy middleware environment consisted of more than 100 TIBCO-based proprietary software components. The standalone interfaces were difficult to manage, had availability issues, and came with a high cost of ownership. In addition, a typical integration could take approximately months to create, which could delay the time to benefit and realizing return on investment, especially in the case of an acquisition. Scalability was also an issue, especially after an acquisition that increased transaction volume 1.5x.
Agilent used Oracle SOA Suite 11g to create a next-generation middleware platform. It spans 41 boundary systems, has 169 touch points—including Oracle E-Business Suite, Siebel CRM, and SAP, Trade Compliance and other enterprise systems. The migration was a high-risk project for Agilent, as many time-sensitive, near real-time, business-critical transactions used the legacy infrastructure and technologies.
“Our new middleware environment is open and standards-based, which reduces time to market and cost of ownership. It is highly scalable. We are also re-using services, which is further improving our agility and the time to market for new IT solutions,” said Rajesh Gathwala, enterprise architect, Agilent.
The company is saving approximately US$1 million annually with the new environment, thanks to the reduced cost of ownership related to server consolidation—which was cut in half when moving from TIBCO—and lower support costs. Agilent also cut in half the time to build new interfaces and reduced the IT budget devoted to interface maintenance by 60%. In addition, it accelerated business transaction processing by 20% and increased throughput by 30%.
Longer term, Agilent looks to use the new SOA platform to streamline business-to-business and partner integrations and publish a directory of services that IT can leverage across the enterprise, further accelerating application development.
Agilent is focusing on enabling users to access critical applications via their mobile devices. Oracle Fusion Middleware, including Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite, is used for integrating mobile apps with enterprise systems. The company has relied on its middleware infrastructure to rapidly build mobile applications, delivering six new mobile services, including field sales and purchase approvals.
“Mobile is an important part of our IT strategy moving forward,” Gathwala said. “With Oracle SOA Suite, we can efficiently reuse services and accelerate mobile enablement. For example, we can quickly build services for mobile applications. Oracle Fusion Middleware plays a critical role in our mobile initiatives and continues to deliver valuable return on our investment.”
In 2009, Agilent began an initiative to migrate several critical J2EE-based business applications from JBoss to Oracle WebLogic Server. These included the company’s external, customer-facing website, content management system, entitlement management tool, entitlement service, and reference data tool. It looked to move away from JBoss, as it had determined that the cost of managing, maintaining, and developing applications with the platform is high. Oracle WebLogic Server provided high availability and accelerated application development. In addition, it included robust out-of-the-box functionality and administrative tools for rapid configuration as well as lower total cost of ownership.
“Oracle Fusion Middleware provides us with versatile solutions—from identity management to web servers—that enable us to reduce IT costs and complexity, accelerate time to value, and drive our business forward. Oracle’s out-of-the-box capabilities, administrative tools, and low cost of ownership are extremely appealing and give us the capability to increase our agility in a rapidly evolving market,” Gathwala said.
Agilent deployed Oracle SOA Suite to replace more than 100 TIBCO interfaces for all Agilent business units, which run many business-critical and time-sensitive transactions. It completed the project in just seven months.
Oracle Consulting worked with Agilent for its Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite implementation. The company benefitted from Oracle Consulting's knowledge of the solution and streamlined access to product development teams. Oracle Consulting employed its Oracle Unified Method, which helps to develop and implement technology-based business solutions with precise development and rapid deployment.