“Every application we roll out needs to have integration functionality
built in, so we can continue to expand our unified application portfolio.”
—Dominic Martinelli, Vice President of IT, Rackable Systems
quoting tool from within Oracle CRM On Demand, and any
quotes created flow into Oracle E-Business Suite in real time.
Additionally, customer, product, and pricing data is synchronized between Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle CRM On
Demand, with changes made in Oracle E-Business Suite updating the on-demand system instantly.
What’s more, the underlying Oracle Fusion Middleware and
SOA technology and the Oracle BPEL Process Manager have
given Martinelli the early makings of an application infrastructure that will provide long-term flexibility and scalability.
“Our long-term plan is clearly to avoid the creation of different applications that don’t communicate with each other. Every
application we roll out needs to have integration functionality
built in, so we can continue to expand our unified application
portfolio,” says Martinelli. “Now we have a platform in place.
We have the foundation for any future integration projects
that we’ll be working on, with Oracle Application Integration
Architecture as the framework.”
Down the road, Martinelli expects to extract more value
from that platform as Rackable Systems proceeds with plans
to expand its Oracle E-Business Suite portfolio with additional
modules as upgrades are released. Had Rackable Systems
chosen to do a custom integration rather than turning to
Oracle Application Integration Architecture, Martinelli’s team
would have been on the integration treadmill for years to
come. “My IT staff would have to recode the integration every
time we upgraded Oracle E-Business Suite,” he says.
Martinelli foresees Rackable Systems rolling out a series
of applications that capitalize on Oracle’s prebuilt process
integration packs, with the specific goals of introducing a customer portal and other business-to-business solutions.
“Oracle Application Integration Architecture can dramatically simplify what I had assumed was going to turn into a
very complex environment,” says Martinelli.
That said, Oracle recognizes that not every customer has
such a tidy application portfolio, which is why Oracle Fusion
Middleware, SOA, and Oracle BPEL Process Manager components are so critical. They provide a foundation for companies like Rackable Systems to establish a service-enabled
application infrastructure going forward, while plugging neatly
into mature SOAs that exist in larger companies. According
to research from AMR, nearly two-thirds of U.S. companies
surveyed either had an SOA in place or were considering
establishing one as of September 2006 (the most recent period
surveyed). And IT executives who responded said that internal
integration was their biggest area of focus.
“On average, our larger enterprise customers may have 500
to 800 different application instances,” says Oracle’s Lazares.
“This has come about because of a new business model—
they’ve grown organically, globally. They’ve also grown
through acquisition, and they’ve inherited different application
systems.” A single process integration pack can’t solve all the
integration challenges in such a complex environment, but it
can provide a crucial building block on the way to rationalizing and modernizing those applications. “SOA lets you
loosely bind those applications so you can upgrade and still
maintain connections and flows of information to support
business processes,” says Lazares.
“People who just care about their own platform and want to
keep using it just as they were before, Oracle is letting them
do that,” says AMR’s Swanton. “People who are interested in
additional capabilities and trying to get them from a single
vendor, the Oracle Application Integration Architecture strategy is what’s really allowing them to do that.”
There’s no question that businesses are facing some big decisions when it comes to their application environments. Whether
they’re committed to running their businesses on one of Oracle’s
acquired technologies or are looking to create a loosely coupled
architecture in which they can plug in components from other
vendors, they must continue to evolve their technology if they
hope to stay ahead of the competition.
As Oracle progresses toward establishing its integrated
application stack, it remains committed to ensuring that
its technology can help both IT strategies succeed. Oracle
Application Integration Architecture provides the flexibility to
make that possible by solving its customers’ biggest application challenges regardless of which path they’re on. “Our customers are asking us to continue to support and maintain their
existing applications and also allow them to choose when they
want to adopt the next-generation set of applications, called
Oracle Fusion,” says Lazares. “We listen to our customers.” <>
TONY KONTZER is a business/technology writer based in Silicon Valley who has
written for Investor’s Business Daily, CIO Insight, Network World, and Wired.
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