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Managing Integration with eBusiness Suite using Oracle BPEL James Taylor Company: Hewlett Packard Introduction Integrating third party systems to Oracle’s eBusiness suite has traditionally been done using cumbersome methods such as PL/SQL and UNIX scripts. These methods are very inflexible and the resulting interfaces become inflexible point- to-point solutions that generally require technical expertise to customise in the event of an upgrade. By using Oracle BPEL not only can you integrate any 2 applications regardless of their underlying technology, you can implement complex business rules to help validate the integration process. Oracle BPEL is designed based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) principles, allowing organisations to move away from tightly coupled inflexible interfaces to loosely coupled, flexible interfaces. The benefit of using SOA architecture comes when changes occur in the IT infrastructure. By adopting SOA methods and principles organisations can reduce the impact on existing interfaces when upgrading or replacing systems therefore reducing integration costs. This study describes how flexible Oracle BPEL can be when integrating third party products to eBusiness Suite. It will introduce some concepts that will help you design a flexible architecture to minimise integration costs during new implementations, upgrades, or acquisitions. Service Oriented Architecture: The new buzz around Oracle software at the moment is Oracle Fusion. To many people it means different things. Some people think it’s just Middleware, some think it’s the merging of the ERP products eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft, and JD Edwards, and some people are just confused. This paper is not going to define Oracle Fusion but it is important that some key definitions are explained to understand the rest of the paper. Middleware is a general term for any programmatic layer that serves to "glue together" or mediate between two separate and often already existing programs. A common application of middleware is to allow programs written to access a particular database to also access other databases. Oracle BPEL is a product within the Oracle Fusion Middleware product suite that helps organisations to achieve this goal. Oracle BPEL has a number of underlying components that make up the application, but the key to implementing BPEL is SOA. Although it is not necessary to use SOA principles, the more SOA compliant your application is the more flexible, and reusable it well be. To understand what SOA is you need to understand what a service is. Think of a service as a mini application. This service is self contained and is not dependent on another service. Services are published by an application to expose some of its functionality. Other applications can then subscribe to this service without having to understand the applications underlying technology. SOA is the underlying structure supporting communications between different services. A simple way to think about SOA is as a collection of services communicating with one another to make one large application. A good example is Amazon.com. You look at their catalogue and choose a number of items. You specify your order through one service, which communicates with an inventory service to find out if the items you've requested are available in the sizes and colours that you want. Your order and shipping details are submitted to another service which calculates your total, tells you when your order should arrive and furnishes a tracking number that, through another service, will allow you to keep track of your order's status and location en route to your door. The entire process, from the initial order to its delivery, is managed by communications between the services. Why SOA The reality in IT enterprises is that infrastructure is heterogeneous across operating systems, applications, system software, and application infrastructure. Organisations rely on existing applications to run current business processes, so starting from scratch to build new infrastructure isn't an option. IT enterprises need to quickly respond to business changes with agility by leveraging existing investments in applications and application infrastructure in order to address new business requirements; support new channels of interactions with customers, partners, and suppliers; and feature an architecture that supports organic business. SOA with its loosely coupled nature allows enterprises to plug in new services or upgrade existing services in a granular fashion to address these issues. By providing an option to make the services consumable across different channels, and the ability to expose existing enterprise and legacy applications as services, SOA is able to safeguard existing IT infrastructure investments. Oracle BPEL: BPEL is an acronym for Business Process Execution Language. It is a convergence of language features from IBM’s Web Service Flow Language (WSFL) and Microsoft’s XLANG. It was jointly developed by IBM, BEA, SAP, Siebel, and Microsoft in August 2002. In 2003 it was submitted to OASIS (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) to obtain even broader industry acceptance and open standardization. Although Oracle BPEL is an Oracle product the underlying technology is standards based therefore integration to third party applications becomes simpler and more robust. Oracle BPEL is a tool that enforces SOA principles. A BPEL process is made up of a number of loosely coupled services to make up a larger application. It is quite common to see a BPEL process made up of a number of smaller BPEL processes. Oracle BPEL is part of the wider Oracle SOA Suite which consists of the following components: Integrated Services Environment: Oracle JDeveloper is an integrated development environment for building service oriented applications using the latest industry standards for Java, XML, Web Services, and SQL. Oracle JDeveloper supports the complete development life cycle with integrated features for modeling, coding, debugging, testing, profiling, tuning, and deploying applications. BPEL Process Manager: Oracle BPEL Process Manager includes a user-friendly Web-based Console for management, administration, and debugging of deployed processes. Instance-level Audit trails, process history, and process analysis/reports are available through the Console. Oracle Enterprise Service Bus: Oracle ESB provides connectivity leveraging Oracle Adapters, which provide standards based access to virtually any data source. Oracle ESB fully supports data transformation and document enrichment using XSLT or XQuery transformation, Business Rules, Systems Cross References, and Domain Value Mapping. Oracle ESB supports content based routing and content filtering. Oracle ESB features a multi-protocol messaging bus including support for JMS, SOAP, JCA, WSIF, JDBC, HTTP, and FTP. The message bus provides configurable JMS qualities of service with different types of persistence stores including Database, File, and In- Memory. Oracle Business Rules: Oracle Business Rules enables business analysts to easily define, update, and manage key decisions and policies governing business processes and applications, e.g. business policies within business processes that are likely to change can be captured using business rules. This reduces the need for developer intervention. Business Activity Monitoring: Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) is a complete solution for building real-time operational dashboards to monitor business processes and services, services levels, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) from processes and services, with capabilities to take automatic or manually invoked corrective actions. Oracle Web Services: Oracle Web Services Manager (OWSM) is a comprehensive solution for securing and managing Service Oriented Architectures It enables security and identity management policies to be defined centrally but enforced globally. SOA-Based Integration: When talking about enterprise application integration (EAI) with IT organizations, we often heard a significant amount of dissatisfaction with traditional, proprietary, integration-broker technologies as well as point-to-point integrations. Many companies had trouble maintaining their integrations and grossly underestimated the time, money, and consulting help that would be required. They need a better way of integrating applications, a way that will allow their internal, non-expert, IT resources to maintain and evolve existing integrations rapidly and cost-effectively. Using standards-based integration, you now have the tools to create easy-to- maintain integrations. Using Oracle BPEL Process Manager Console, key business users are able to administer and maintain BPEL processes with little to no knowledge of J2EE principles. The console provides an intuitive interface that makes it easy for business users to interrogate, diagnose, and debug BPEL processes. Due to the simplicity of this tool the training requirements are minimal. Business users could gain a basic understanding of the BPEL principles after a 2 day training course and be competent enough to mange the BPEL environment unassisted. ? ? Point to Point Integration Traditional EAI SOA Based Integration Process hard coded Proprietary (Metadata, Standards (XML, Risky development data, process, security, WSDL, BPEL) project UI) Sync and Async Not out of the box Intrusive application Interaction management and model Flow coordination monitoring Separate Infrastructure Advanced exception Expensive management Extensible Reduced Implementation effort Business users supporting BPEL with minimal training To help organisations apply SOA principles to the eBusiness Suite environment, Oracle has provided an integration repository that lists all the services that are exposed as part of eBusiness Suite 11.5.10 and above. This can be found at http://irep.oracle.com. By utilising these services with your integration to eBusiness Suite Oracle provides you with increased flexibility during future upgrades. Although the underlying functionality of the service may change, the method used to define the service will not. Therefore if you interface uses these services little to no development will be required to that interface during an upgrade. Business Process: People that are new to BPEL think of it as an integration tool that has a number of adapters allowing communication to a number of applications and technologies. Although BPEL has comprehensive integration capabilities, it can also enable organisations to implement complex business rules using workflow type processes. BPEL can populate worklists, and send emails to notify users of any impending action, such as a PO approval. A good example of the complex business rules BPEL can perform is the hiring of an employee. When a new hire is entered into Oracle eBusiness Suite, a business event occurs that shows that an employee has been added to your system. Oracle BPEL Process Manager listens for that event, taking it in and starting a process. Then Oracle BPEL Process Manager sends an e-mail to the new employee, asking him to access the Oracle Portal, where they can select their benefits and order their computer, after which Oracle BPEL Process Manager can use a third-party service to provide them with their corporate credit card. Finally, a Web service could be invoked to pass the employee information to security, so that the employee can get a badge on their first day. Presenting BPEL Processes: Creating and modifying business processes alone won’t give your company a competitive edge; you must also be able to monitor and improve them. You have to keep an eye on key performance indicators to ensure that your business is performing according to plan. A component of the Oracle SOA Suite is Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (Oracle BAM) which enables you to define monitoring points to provide insight into business flows for reporting, analytic, and performance improvements and offers a dashboard so you can understand your business processes and key performance indicators. Oracle BPEL Process Manager Console provides a user-friendly Web-based interface for management, administration, and debugging of processes deployed to the BPEL server. Audit trails and process history/reporting information are automatically maintained and available through the BPEL Process Manager Console and via a Java API. The workflow task lists and historical process analysis reports are also integrated into the same console. Migrating existing interfaces to BPEL: Traditionally interfaces used within eBusiness Suite are tightly coupled and developed with only the source and target system in mind. The diagram below shows a typical GL interface where the source system FTPs a file to the target system and a few concurrent programs are run to get the data imported into the eBusiness Suite. Traditional GL Interface FTP Source Target Server File X Concurrent Program Uploads Source File Perform Loads data into Load data into business rules Custom Staging Open Interface and table table transformation X Concurrent Program Oracle Alerts Load GL Import X Potential Manual Intervention User eBusiness Suite Typically the interface will be broken into 3 parts: File transfer, File mappings and business rules, and Execution of the open interface. Some sites may also develop some notification capabilities using Oracle Alerts to notify users of any exceptions that occurred during the import process. Some sites may also invest money to automate the whole process, but in most circumstances the business rule will be to run the concurrent programs manually. Traditionally this interface would have been developed using PL/SQL with a small amount of shell scripting, although any language or toolset could be used. The issue is that the intellectual understanding for the program generally says with the developer, therefore if the interface fails and the developer is not available it can take some time to diagnose the issue. As the interface has been developed with only the source and the target system in mind the program has tightly coupled the 2 systems together therefore if one of the systems were to change through replacement or upgrade, the interface could require a complete rewrite. Using Oracle BPEL and SOA principles you can remove the inflexibilities to make your interface more robust to change. It can also make the interface easier to administer and maintain. The diagram below shows how a traditional interface can be converted into a BPEL process. BPEL GL Interface Inbound BPEL Service Map to Source FTP Custom File Adapter Stage Area WSDL Outbound BPEL Service Main BPEL Service Load Integration Business Repository Open WSDL Rules Interface eBusiness Suite Notifications Adapter User eBusiness Suite The fundamental difference between the 2 interfaces is that the BPEL interface is loosely coupled. The interface comprises 3 BPEL services that work independently of each other to create the interface. Due to this loose coupling the impact on this interface will be minimal in the event of the source system being changed due to upgrade or replacement. Only the inbound service will be affected. If an organisation has multiple GL interfaces much of this interface can be reused. All that is required is another inbound service that calls the main service. Using the integration repository can also reduce the impact on the interface in the event of an eBusiness Suite upgrade. The method used to call these services will remain constant between application releases; therefore the interface should require no change. Summary: Organisations have many applications within their infrastructure to help them manage their business. Organisations are also purchasing new systems to help them overcome current business issues. In this ever changing environment it is important to implement a method that will reduce the IT spend, yet leverage the strengths of existing systems, allowing the organisation to move towards the future. By implementing SOA principles using Oracle BPEL you are able to achieve these goals. BPEL not only has the capabilities to communicate through the latest standards such as WSDL, it is also shipped with a number of adapters to help communicate with older legacy systems. Therefore any 2 applications can be integrated using Oracle BPEL. Oracle BPEL also provides some comprehensive administration tools to help organisations manage the messages being passed through the BPEL engine. No longer are organisations exposed when key technical staff leave. The BPEL tools are intuitive which in most circumstances allow business uses to diagnose any issue that may arise within the application.
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