The Rule of Thirds

Fusion

BearingPoint’s view of Fusion

A path not a destination

Fusion is an evolution, blending the existing Oracle applications together with those acquired such as JD Edwards, Siebel and Peoplesoft in combination with the underlying technical infrastructure that will result in a more flexible SOA-based environment.

Oracle Fusion can be broken down into three elements:

  1. Architecture
  2. Middleware
  3. Applications

See the Roadmap for further info.

INTRODUCTION: ADDRESSING TODAY’S CHALLENGES

Technology is changing at a dizzying pace. Organizations are tapping into the speed and flexibility of the Internet and the World Wide Web to seize market opportunities and create new, integrated business relationships —dynamically and rapidly.

Oracle is at the forefront of these technology developments. Oracle’s numerous acquisitions have laid the foundation for the company to create next-generation service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications. Today, SOA is emerging as a new standard for development of business solutions, replacing previous approaches to application development and systems integration.

What does all this change mean for your company? In order to gain a sustainable competitive edge, it is more important than ever that you have a strategy for the use of emerging technologies, particularly SOA. Organizations are interested in exploiting the potential of SOA. However, they are concerned about preserving their investment in Oracle solutions and other technology systems. They are asking, “How do we evolve toward an SOA infrastructure leveraging our existing investments and aligning with our key initiatives and business strategies?”

Oracle Fusion Middleware can provide some compelling options. Oracle Fusion Middleware is a comprehensive and integrated family of products offering extensive support for development, deployment and management of SOA. It is a portfolio of leading standards-based, customer-deployed software products that spans a range of tools and services, including developer tools, integration services, business intelligence, collaboration and content management.

We believe Oracle Fusion Middleware can help organizations achieve business objectives by allowing them to take a systematic, phased approach to incorporating SOA into their technology strategy and infrastructure. In this Point of View, we discuss benefits of using Oracle Fusion Middleware proactively and key considerations in deploying it. We recommend a step-by-step, phased deployment approach that will allow organizations to make the transition to SOA, while preserving their existing investments in Oracle and other technologies.

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRATION

Continually evolving market conditions are driving the need for adaptive business processes and agile technology infrastructure. Major recurring themes across industries and business functions include:

• Globalization.

• Efficiency through shared services.

• Actionable business insight to improve business processes and corporate performance.

• Knowing your customer.

• The need to provide real-time information to customers.

• Compliance with new regulations in an evolving regulatory environment.

• Restructuring for rapid innovation.

• The need to respond to industry drivers and acquire competitive, specialized capabilities.

Organizations are interested in exploiting the potential of SOA. However, they are concerned about preserving their investment in Oracle solutions and other technology systems. They are asking, “How do we evolve toward an SOA infrastructure leveraging our existing investments and aligning with our key initiatives and business strategies?” Oracle Fusion Middleware can provide some compelling options.

One common thread that binds all of these themes is integration —the ability to expand and adapt applications in response to changing business relationships. However, at best, most organizations today have only achieved large-scale, point-to-point integration. They can share data, but they must find new ways to integrate business processes and applications, both within and between organizations.

To capitalize on the connectivity provided by the Web to form and expand business relationships, enterprises must continue to transform their technology infrastructures. The transition from legacy mainframe environments with standalone applications to client-server systems improved connectivity somewhat, and the introduction of e-business and Web-based applications furthered the effort.

Enter SOA. Based on open standards that have been universally adopted by large system vendors, SOA is an applications development and deployment strategy that supports effective, predictable business process changes through standards-based integration of applications developed as Web services. SOA offers organizations the opportunity to use the Internet and the Web to achieve greater interconnectivity between applications, trading partners and customers.

Oracle Fusion Middleware is an aspect of Oracle’s broader plan for the delivery of next-generation Fusion applications using Fusion Architecture, Oracle’s implementation of SOA that includes database, middleware and application tiers. Oracle Fusion Middleware is the foundation for unifying Oracle’s E-Business Suite with the technologies of recent, diverse Oracle acquisitions, including PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Retek, as well as serving integration needs for non-Oracle systems.

EXPLORING THE BENEFITS OF SOA

SOA supports the creation of business processes and software applications as loosely coupled services. Instead of being hard-coded into systems, these services can be invoked on an as-needed basis, creating a truly flexible, adaptable technology infrastructure.

In doing so, SOA promotes faster response to business changes, as well as accelerated system development on scalable platforms. Plus, because it can easily be integrated into existing environments, SOA allows organizations to leverage their current legacy investments.

Instead of tearing down an entire architecture and implementing a new technology, SOA provides the foundation for a phased evolution. Using SOA, a business problem is solved using a set of reusable services. Services are discrete pieces of business functionality, such as accounts payable, asset management, business intelligence or compliance capability. Services can be assembled into business processes that are deployed and managed through common administration utilities. Because SOA facilitates reuse of services, the cost and complexity of projects can be reduced significantly.

SOA inherently provides the flexibility to deploy business services across different parts of an organization —or multiple separate business enterprises —participating in a business process. SOA also supports increased consistency across integration and development activities and run-time infrastructure. It also supports more effective sharing of information across external and internal organizations.

Services are developed and deployed using standards that simplify and accelerate integration efforts across enterprise boundaries. These standards include:

  • Extensible Markup Language (XML)
  • Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
  • Web Services Description Language (WSDL)
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

which provide platform independence between existing infrastructure and business process layers. Now business services can be requested through standard interfaces that are ubiquitous across formerly stovepiped or isolated applications.

The application of Web services is useful for integration and orchestration of processes that cross applications. The applications can be Oracle-supported applications or non-Oracle applications, as long as they adhere to open standards.

Implementing an SOA framework requires consideration of two areas that are key to increasing business and technology effectiveness and collaboration.

First, SOA is principally a design and architecture approach for implementing a business process. Because of this, an organization may need to change the way it approaches and solves business problems.

Second, SOA also serves as the basis for selecting and deploying the underlying technology platform for next-generation applications. This involves not only the platform, but the organizational transition needed to develop, implement and sustain the solution. Given the benefits of SOA as a technology solution, there is significant opportunity for IT organizations to establish themselves as key contributors to the overall business goals of the enterprise.

Achieving the desired business end state requires a structure, approach and plan that will likely take several years to achieve maturity in many organizations. We recommend a progressive path to SOA, such as the one depicted in Figure 1, which describes a plateau-based SOA Maturity Model. The Each plateau is associated with defined attributes, goals, practices and business benefits, supporting incremental deployment and alignment with the industry-standard Software Engineering Institution (SEI) Capability Maturity Model. Tables 1 and 2 provide further detail of the model plateaus

EXAMINING THE BENEFITS OF THE ORACLE FUSION ARCHITECTURE

Enterprises can realize an array of benefits in deploying SOA with Oracle Fusion Middleware. Among such benefits are:

  • leveraging of existing technology investments
  • deeper business insight
  • greater adaptability to change
  • effective user presentation
  • security management.

A major advantage of Oracle Fusion Middleware is that you only install and leverage the pieces you need. If you have already invested in portal, business intelligence or other technologies, it is not necessary to replace them. Oracle Fusion Middleware can work with your current environment.

OPTIMIZATION

Most enterprises have a mix of technologies and hardware. The management of mixed technologies and platforms is difficult and costly because there is strong dependency on many vendors without reliable integration between them. SOA supports loose coupling of disparate data processes and, through Web services, the ability to orchestrate services across platforms and applications.

An SOA-based platform leveraging Oracle capabilities, such as the Enterprise Grid —developed by the Enterprise Grid Alliance — and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), allow for regulation of complex infrastructures by pooling diverse IT resources, directing workload and orchestrating services across a variety of platforms. This provides the immediate benefit of reducing costs while also resolving the inefficiency of such diverse platforms.

PRESENTATION —PORTALS AND INTELLIGENCE

The presentation layer of Oracle Fusion Middleware supports the development, deployment and management of enterprise portals for data presentation and analysis across a broad spectrum of transactional and business intelligence needs.

The enterprise portal provides secure information access and supports collaboration and process automation. Business intelligence functionality provides the ability to control information as it is pushed and pulled across the enterprise, using such tools as:

• Dashboards

• Alerts

• Event notifications

• Real-time predictive intelligence for information push

• Query and analytic tools for on-demand information pull

The Oracle portal and business intelligence tools together provide a highly functional, user-friendly presentation layer.

INSIGHT

Insight into key performance indicators, coupled with the ability to collect and analyze events —even from legacy systems — provides the operational analytics needed to make informed decisions, respond to system events in a timely manner and evaluate overall business performance. Insight into events at any system level or within any business process can provide advanced notification of potential regulatory noncompliance or violation of business processes. Typically, businesses do not have fingertip access to reliable data, especially data stored in silos across multiple sources.

Oracle Fusion Middleware’s Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) tools, operational dashboards and embedded analytics help track events and key performance indicators to provide better decision-making capability. Dashboards present a view of data events as they happen —providing ready access to reliable data in a timely manner. Embedded analytics provide critical information at any stage of the business process, from planning through system transactions to reporting.

ADAPTABILITY

Adaptability is the ability to transform in response to a change —regardless of what area the change relates to. Enterprises need to be responsive to business changes and able to automate and adapt existing processes as business needs change or grow.

Adaptability extends to integration between legacy and third-party systems and provides the ability to improve existing infrastructure in response to constant permutations of the business:

  • Configurable business flows
  • configurable business logic for audit controls
  • configurable data and user interfaces

provide the groundwork for adaptation and transformation of businesses and business processing.

Oracle Fusion Middleware, specifically Oracle BPEL and the Oracle Business Rules Engine, allows organizations to continue to evolve their business through tools that execute business requirements in real time. In addition, the toolset supports orchestration and deployment of complex integrated business processes, as well as monitoring and management of business activities.

INTEGRATED SECURITY MANAGEMENT

Effective security management —authorization, authentication and access control —must underpin the deployment of any business process. Oracle Fusion Middleware provides integrated security management that includes managing single sign-on capabilities, provisioning and directory management.

ACHIEVING SOA WITH ORACLE FUSION MIDDLEWARE

One of the strengths of SOA is that it allows enterprises to leverage the best elements of their existing infrastructure. We believe organizations can take a step-by-step approach to deploying SOA with Oracle Fusion Middleware that does not require ripping out and replacing current infrastructure, whether Oracle’s or another vendor’s. Enterprises can select pieces of the Fusion technology stack that meet their needs and integrate them with systems already in place.

For example, to make it easier for PeopleSoft Enterprise customers to take advantage of Oracle Fusion Middleware, key components of Oracle Fusion Middleware are certified with the latest versions (8.46 and 8.47) of PeopleTools. All of the Oracle Fusion Middleware components certified for use with PeopleTools can be deployed for virtually all PeopleSoft Enterprise 8.4, 8.8 and 8.9 applications without requiring an application version upgrade.

Current Release

Next release

Fusion

PeopleSoft Enterprise

8.9

9

Fusion

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

8.11

8.12

Fusion

Oracle EBS

11i10

12

Fusion

In addition, PeopleSoft applications running on Oracle Containers for Java can be extended through a Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) framework, allowing for orchestration of extended services. Exposed business processes can be orchestrated through Oracle BPEL, and business events and activities can be monitored.

Once they are certified for Oracle Fusion Middleware, Siebel applications will offer similar capabilities.

Enterprises also can protect their current investments in BEA Systems, IBM WebSphere and Microsoft .NET Web servers, as well as in EMC Legato storage software and other solutions.

To leverage these opportunities, we recommend undertaking an inaugural project based on a specific business or technology priority. Examples of such inaugural projects include:

  • An identity management initiative.
  • Enhanced business intelligence, reporting or auditing capabilities, possibly coupling legacy data extraction routines with a Fusion-based presentation layer such as XML Publisher.
  • A refresh of compliance provisioning in response to new regulations.
  • Master data management initiatives, possibly through use of Oracle’s Customer or Product Data Hubs.
  • Updates, extensions or retirements of entirely custom applications built within the PeopleSoft, Siebel or Oracle toolsets or custom integrations of these product sets.
  • Enhanced process integration across existing systems.
  • System capacity expansions or improvements making use of virtualized storage or servers or Oracle’s grid computing infrastructure.
  • Migration to the Oracle database from another database platform.
  • Exposing legacy functionality as modular services or using tools such as JDeveloper and Oracle’s Application Development Framework to create new modular services.
  • Accessing standards-based services offered by third-party providers.
  • Marketing internal services to external users to enhance revenue.

The enterprise can then start building a new architecture on a step-by-step basis based on identified key initiatives, while leveraging and extending current investments. This also allows flexibility in taking advantage of next-generation applications spanning varying release cycles.

An inaugural Fusion project can serve as a practical way to focus on key short-term considerations:

  • Evaluating and confirming current support options and taking advantage of new options.
  • Aligning SOA and Oracle Fusion Middleware capabilities with business objectives.
  • Undertaking interim upgrades when there is a clear benefit. Organizations with older existing installations may consider moving to the latest releases to take advantage of Oracle Fusion Middleware capabilities and position themselves for a direct upgrade to Fusion application suites.
  • Establishing a new capability that adds business value and can be implemented in an isolated, low-risk manner. Such a capability can make use of new tools or technologies that align with SOA and have the potential to be reused more broadly across the organization. The capability could extend an existing implementation of Oracle, PeopleSoft or Siebel, for example, or be undertaken as a new standalone implementation outside existing application domains.
  • Exposing internal staff to new areas of learning, providing an opportunity to increase job satisfaction and lower the long-term organizational learning curve.
  • Finding ways to reduce customization.
  • Finding ways to reduce overall complexity and diversity in the IT environment.

Organizations are in different phases of maturity with their applications.

Organizations that are implementing Oracle for the first time have a more immediate opportunity to leverage Web services compared with organizations who are already live on Oracle and have invested in point-to-point integration. An organization implementing Oracle for the first time has an opportunity to lay the SOA foundation and integrate using Web services.

An organization already live may not wish to rewire a working interface as a Web service. Such an organization should lay the SOA framework, use Web services for future integration efforts and plan on gradually replacing point-to-point interfaces as the opportunity and need arise.

To support organizations in taking the first steps, Oracle has provided a complete Fusion Middleware suite, including new reporting tools, and a developer toolset (JDeveloper 10g) for building new applications.

After extensive analysis and customer input, Oracle has also provided early guidance indicating the direction planned for key heritage application functionality. As of the second quarter of 2006, Oracle reports that development of next-generation applications using the toolsets above within an SOA framework is about to commence.

Oracle’s E-Business Suite will be used as the base data model. However, many core tables across the acquired product sets were found to be quite similar.

The E-Business Suite will also serve as the basis for Fusion business logic. Functional requirements for next-generation applications consist of a composite of E-Business Suite plus the acquired product sets. Oracle plans a dedicated focus on retaining and acquiring significant industry-vertical functionality across all major application pillars.

CHARTING A ROAD MAP TO BUSINESS SERVICES IMPLEMENTATION AND INTEGRATION

We recommend a road map tied to a maturity progression model, such as the one described earlier in Figure 1, with critical tasks at each maturity plateau to provide a structured approach to achieving the end state. The road map should be updated periodically — perhaps quarterly —as more information on Project Fusion’s next-generation applications becomes available. The road map will be unique for each organization and should align with the cadences in Oracle’s Project Fusion life cycle.

ADDRESSING THE RISKS

Recent acquisitions by Oracle, and the prospect of future additional acquisitions, create new integration requirements and a continually moving baseline.

Because the Oracle E-Business Suite is being used as the baseline for the Fusion enterprise data model and business logic, upgrades from a preexisting Oracle platform may be relatively straightforward. However, migrations from heritage PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel environments may involve greater complexity, cost and risk. Prior to being acquired by Oracle, these companies themselves grew through acquisitions. These “once-removed” acquisitions, and the resulting diversity underlying the technology platforms, may add complexity and challenge to Fusion development. In such cases, upgrade and migration activities may be more akin to re-implementations.

Currently there are many unknowns regarding Fusion application functionality and other specifics, which make it difficult to accurately budget or calculate return on investment.

Underestimating the effort required to upgrade or migrate could contribute to business disruptions. Overestimating may make it more difficult to secure project funding, impeding the organization’s ability to take advantage of next-generation capabilities in a timely manner.

Project Fusion is a long-term evolution that requires organizations to be diligent about periodically adjusting their implementation road maps. In addition, adequately building and retaining internal skills will be a challenge over the long timeline.

While using an integrated technology stack such as Fusion Architecture has advantages, there also is some risk associated with vendor lock-in and dependency on that vendor for key tools. While this risk is always present, it may be mitigated by the fact that Oracle is implementing Fusion products according to standards that will allow competitor products to be plugged in, replacing Oracle stack components. Each organization should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of operating in a single-vendor technology stack. Multi-vendor SOA solutions are alternatives to the unified Oracle stack.

Finally, SOA implies a distributed computing environment, which potentially can require different or more complex governance structures involving more parties. It may also require business and IT areas to become more collaborative than in the past.

CAPITALIZING ON FUSION

Oracle Fusion Architecture is a powerful platform that supports both today’s business environments and the applications of the future. It can help organizations capitalize on the opportunities provided by SOA to expand into new markets and forge deeper relationships with trading partners and customers. By taking a step-by-step, phased approach to deploying Oracle Fusion Middleware, organizations can make the transition to SOA while continuing to realize the value of their existing investments in Oracle and other technologies.

For example, the new Federal Reference Model (FRM) solution for the U.S. government, based on leading Oracle applications, provides a standardized business process approach across federal financial systems and governance controls. The solution supports proof of concept sessions and training and serves as an accelerator for production implementations.

The FRM solution, which uses industry-standard business processes and an SOA approach to systems integration, has the capability to interoperate with a variety of legacy systems and emerging technologies. This supports streamlined business processes and data flows across operational systems, without the expense of additional hardware or customizations.

Our global Oracle practice also is supporting application of Oracle Fusion Middleware and SOA in a range of industries and across the spectrum of enterprise functions and solutions.

SOLUTIONS

  • Service-Oriented Architecture enter of Excellence
  • Public Services Broker (PSB) Project
  • Consolidated Call Center Desktop
  • Shared Document Management Services

These are some of the leading solutions we have developed jointly with Oracle and our clients. We have a long-standing relationship with Oracle and extensive experience with its technology stack and the legacy applications of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel. The diagram highlights horizontal, functional solutions such as financials and human capital management; tailored solutions such as spend management and business intelligence; and industry-specific solutions such as customer relationship management case management for health and human services and compliance for Basel II for financial services.

SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY NOW

SOA provides the foundation for enterprises to take business integration to the next level. Regardless of when an organization plans to incorporate SOA and next-generation applications into its operations, now is the time to start addressing the implementation, integration and prioritization considerations for successful deployment.

By taking action now, you can get a head start in capitalizing on emerging technologies. We have developed a methodology, a road map, accelerators and assessment tools that can help you leverage your investments for strategic advantage.

Proactive use of available Oracle Fusion Middleware allows organizations to leverage their current investments in Oracle or other technologies, while sensibly positioning for next-generation Fusion applications in a controlled, incremental manner. As with other technology initiatives, a key to deriving value from Fusion deployment will be aligning the effort with true business drivers and organizational direction.

Our SOA road map supports organizations in establishing more agile IT architectures. We have made significant investments in developing holistic business and technology solutions powered by Oracle to help clients improve, adapt and evolve their current capabilities. In addition, our long-standing alliances with Oracle, PeopleSoft and Siebel strongly position us to assist Oracle customers in defining a road map to a next-generation environment supported by Oracle Fusion Middleware.

By taking action now, you can get a head start in capitalizing on emerging technologies. We have developed a methodology, a road map, accelerators and assessment tools that can help you leverage your investments for strategic advantage.

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