Oracle's service packs meet SOA

Oracle later today will unveil the Oracle Application Integration Architecture, an initiative that allows customers with a bevy of applications to boil them down to a business process. This effort, which will be coined "Project X" by Oracle co-president Charles Phillips in a speech at the Collaborate User Group Conference, takes a step toward two things: Services oriented architecture and the building blocks of Oracle's Fusion suite.

Oracle later today will unveil the Oracle Application Integration Architecture, an initiative that allows customers with a bevy of applications to boil them down to a business process.

This effort, which will be coined "Project X" by Oracle co-president Charles Phillips in a speech at the Collaborate User Group Conference, takes a step toward two things: Services oriented architecture and the building blocks of Oracle's Fusion suite.

In some respects, customers will be able to buy service packs based on specific processes, such as order-to-cash, billing, and trade promotions in retailing.

Paco Aubrejuan, vice president of applications strategy at Oracle, says these packs are largely geared toward what's becoming a prototype customer--a CIO with multiple applications (Siebel, Oracle e-Business and PeopleSoft) who wants them to work together. Aubrejuan noted that many Oracle customers have heterogeneous environments with 10 to 15 products from Oracle. The issue: Customers want them to work together to make business processes more efficient.

"Customers are coming to us increasingly talking to us about process instead of a product," says Aubrejuan.

Fast forwarding a bit, Oracle's initiative is more aligned with how businesses act. Businesses don't want to hear about the latest version of any application. They want to know how to turn orders into cash flow quicker. And as Web services and SOA gain traction, it's likely companies will buy a business process first and then the application.

Oracle's service packs operate on Business Process Execution Language and can plug into both home grown applications and other systems.

"We're being as pragmatic as we can and picking the greatest hits of solutions we already have," says Aubrejuan. “Service oriented architecture shouldn't be about reimplementing. The costs are too high so you have to evolving existing assets into SOA."

These business process packs will roll out over the next 18 months, although Oracle didn't outline a specific timeline. The packs will be pre-built and licensed separately based on the CPU.

The highlights of Oracle's packs read like a mashup of apps the company has acquired. Here's a look at some of the packs with long-winded titles that Oracle has planned:

  • Two packs combining Siebel CRM with Oracle's E-Business Suite. Two packs will support "the opportunity-to-quote process" and "order-to-cash process lifecycle." In English, these packs will send out automated quotes to potential customers and process orders and check inventory, prices and product configuration in real time. These two packs will emerge in the next two months or so.
  • Oracle’s Siebel CRM Integration Pack for i-flex FLEXCUBE Account Originations: This pack is designed to integrate banking software with CRM data such as account openings.
  • Oracle’s Siebel Call Center Integration Pack for Oracle Adverse Event Reporting System: Targeted toward the life sciences industry, this pack tracks adverse complaint reporting and monitoring.
  • Siebel CRM Trade Promotions and Deductions Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite: Geared to retailers, this pack manages trade promotions between retailers and consumer goods companies.
  • Communications Integration Packs for Siebel CRM, Oracle Billing and Revenue Management and Oracle Financials: This pack synchronizes prices, orders, accounts, billing, payments and accounting among other items.
  • Multi Order Channel Management Integration Pack for Siebel CRM, Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Retail: Designed for customer service efforts at multi-channel retailers.
  • Siebel CRM On Demand Integration Pack for Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne: Planned to support leads, orders, account tracking and product lookup.
  • Oracle Transportation Management Integration Pack for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne: Shipping rate mashup covering sales order entry, optimized shipment planning and consolidation, freight audit and settlement processing and carrier payment.
  • Oracle’s PeopleSoft Financials Integration Pack for Oracle Financial Services Accounting Hub: Allows financial services customers to consolidate information from back-office systems into the Oracle Financial Services Accounting Hub and PeopleSoft General Ledger. 

While these packs are prebuilt, Aubrejuan notes that customers can also use any of them as a base to customize processes. Oracle has developed a network for independent software vendors (ISVs) to tweak away.