Fortunately, Ciena’s heterogeneous IT environment began to coalesce around a single vendor: Oracle. “We didn’t start out as a huge Oracle shop,” Donley says. “But over time and based on acquisitions done by Oracle, we now have a significant piece of our business running on Oracle tools. We are running [Oracle E-Business Suite] 11.5.10, but we also have [Oracle’s] Agile, Hyperion, and Siebel applications.”
At Ciena, the Agile PLM system is where bill of material and product item information is stored and managed. More than half the company’s employees are engineers or salespeople who rely on these applications every day to grow revenue. Also, Ciena outsources most of its manufacturing, so engineering data plays an essential role in the business. “We feed it over to our Oracle E-Business Suite, which drives our whole supply chain and customer relationship databases,” says Temple. “Having good data to drive the supply chain is critical.”
Putting IT All Together Clearly, connecting data and applications together is a high priority for Ciena. Fortunately, the Oracle Application Integration Architecture offering was designed to help IT processes and data sync effectively. Components of the solution can be mixed and matched to make it easier for customers to build, extend, and maintain their systems. Oracle Application Integration Architecture enables IT to create sustainable, world-class integrations—across all Oracle, legacy, third-party, and partner solutions. Oracle Application Integration Architecture is made up of two primary components: the foundation packs and the prebuilt integrations or PIPs. The foundation packs provide the building blocks and methodologies needed to design a holistic approach to orchestrating agile, user-centric business processes between any applications, whether they are Oracle or non-Oracle applications. PIPs, on the other hand, provide prebuilt integrations across specific business processes—order-to-cash, for example—between Oracle and non-Oracle applications. Which component is the best fit depends on customer needs.
Ciena’s situation was ripe for a PIP fix. The company’s Agile installation had been in place for years, and the custom-built integration to Oracle E-Business Suite was returning an unacceptably high error rate. When Oracle acquired Agile in 2007, Ciena’s staff hoped that this would lead to a better method for connecting the two systems. Wasim Khan, senior manager, information systems, at Ciena, says the problems with the custom integration led to hundreds of change orders a week, a third of which had to be handled manually. “That requires a lot of onsite daily support,” Khan says.
Donley made the case, both internally and to Oracle, that Ciena should be in the early adopter program for the Agile to Oracle E-Business Suite PIP. Ciena’s partner in the project, Sierra Atlantic of Fremont, California, has two business lines. It offers outsourced product development for software companies large and small (see The Oracle Codevelopment Program), and it handles system implementation and integration for users. Oracle and Sierra Atlantic are similar in that they both create code for enterprise customers. Sometimes, business units from the two companies overlap neatly. In this case, Sierra Atlantic, while implementing Agile Product Lifecycle Management Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite for Design to Release at Ciena, also worked with Oracle to codevelop the PIP connecting Agile to SAP. “The business units are symbiotic and allow us to help both types of customers,” says G.K. Murthy, senior vice president of enterprise solutions at Sierra Atlantic. “In the case of Ciena, we have been working with them for more than 10 years, and we understand their business processes.”
The Early-Adopter Experience The Sierra Atlantic team has worked with Ciena over several years, which helped the consultants deeply understand how Ciena’s business processes worked. With an experienced partner involved, it made sense for Ciena to join with Oracle and Sierra Atlantic in the second half of 2008 and engage in other codevelopment opportunities. “The dedication, focus, and resource attention from the Oracle side has been very significant,” Donley says.