Mobile Backend Platform to Improved Digital Experience and Increased Productivity

Recently, I attended a digital government summit and was particularly interested in the strategy being planned for moving the government information technology into the future. These were the key points that impacted me:

  • Mobility first
  • Reusability
  • Integration
  • Results in 75 days

This fits so well with Sofbang’s capabilities and experience. Use mobile backend platform to extend existing or new enterprise applications to improve user digital experience and work force productivity. By using a cloud platform as a service and Sofbang solution accelerators one can stand up a simple mobile solution in a short time frame and in a cost effective manner. The mobility platform provides a basis to achieve enhanced digital experience even for legacy systems and set the base for staged migration of the legacy systems in a least disruptive manner to the end user.

These are the key components of the mobile backend platform that can make that happen:

  • Use Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) concepts for data governance
  • Reusable interfaces to legacy and new enterprise applications
  • Easy to use work flow management (Business Process Management)
  • State of the art data security
  • Mobile synchronization for offline work activities
  • Uses native capabilities of mobile devices (Camera, GPS, etc.)
  • Push/Pull notification process (Alerts, etc.)

The Big Picture: The concept is to use a collection of cloud based platform services whether on premise or in the cloud such as Oracle’s PaaS offering. The platform has a variety of services that can be configured to provide end user applications that enhance the user experience. These services include but are not limited to security, database, integration, mobility, process, and analytics. Using the platform as an integrated set of services, that mobilized applications can be quickly developed to modernize and improve the end users digital experience.

 

Graphic Mobile Backend Platform to Improved Digital Experience and Increased Productivity

 

How it Works: There needs to be a mobile strategy. The idea for this strategy is to have a robust mobile backend platform where information can be exchanged, simple work flows implemented, user experience customized, security in place, and analytics available for analysis. Once an enterprise application interface using web services is in place, it can be reused by many smaller, user enhanced, mobilized applications. Interfaces between multiple enterprise applications can be combined to create seamless, simplified work flows with single sign on authentication. Work flows can be customized to specific users, designed to do the work in a manner that works best for them. Small, quickly developed and deployed, mobilized applications can be put in place with incremental improved functionality being released in an agile manner. By keeping customization in this mobile backend platform, new version releases of enterprise applications or migration to different enterprise applications can be done more quickly at a lower cost with minimal disruption to the end users.

Advantages: By implementing a mobile strategy utilizing a mobile backend platform, many business advantages can be achieved.

These are some of the key advantages:

  • Modernization of legacy systems
  • Cost savings when transitioning legacy systems are accepted with new systems
  • Rapid deployment of mobilized enhanced end user interfaces
  • Security as a practice built within the platform
  • Work flows bridging multiple enterprise applications customized to end user needs
  • Work performed on device of choice – desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone
  • Mobile synchronization for offline work activities
  • Use of native capabilities of mobile devices such as camera and GPS

For assistance with your mobile strategy and mobile backend platform, contact Sofbang LLC at info@sofbang.com, www.sofbang.com.

My Favorite PeopleSoft Flavor: Vanilla

This post provides an overview of how Oracle BPM can be used with PeopleSoft to gain more out of your ERP. It also covers how to go about separating the process and personalization/customization layers from your ERP, to encourage leveraging more vanilla, out-of-the-box ERP functionality, rather than an over customized, costly to maintain version. Oracle BPM takes out the process inefficiencies associated with your ERP. It provides you with a range of different governance and workflow capabilities, which allows you to efficiently operate in your ERP with robust drill down features. This enables your process users and key stakeholders to uncover operational gaps that may be hindering your business from attaining efficiency gains or untapped revenue channels.

Accelerated Oracle Fusion Middleware Reference Architecture

Sofbang’s Accelerated Oracle Fusion Middleware Reference Architecture for PeopleSoft optimization

Integration Recommendations

Time after time, we have seen various lines of businesses come up with ad-hoc requirements needing to hook or connect other systems with PeopleSoft to push and/or pull information between those other systems. To accomplish this, there are some options available within PeopleSoft which allow you to make the successful connections to these external systems and make publications. Using the Integration Broker within PeopleTools, PeopleSoft Applications can integrate with other PeopleSoft modules or with other third-party applications using messages or web services. However, typical integrations built between PeopleSoft pillars are point-to-point, meaning that they are tailored to meet the needs of the two applications rather than a general interface or common integration layer available for many. Businesses today are required to adapt quickly to their customers’ challenges and are looking to IT for a differentiator. PeopleSoft applications with Integration Broker are great for point-to-point integrations and building reusable web services, but critical components that make up a more comprehensive enterprise integration platform are missing. Technology and application connector support is limited and there is no process automation layer that can span over several applications within your enterprise, including cloud-based applications. As depicted in the diagram above, a comprehensive solution such as Oracle SOA Suite can be the missing piece to an organization’s enterprise integration strategy. Oracle BPM runs on Oracle SOA Suite, creating business-driven process based integrations with PeopleSoft applications. Oracle BPM works with the Integration Broker to serve as a connector to PeopleSoft applications, creating seamless integrations and processes across your enterprise; not just within PeopleSoft.

Costly Customizations

Often times, we have seen enterprise customers over customize their PeopleSoft processes and screens to adjust to their organizational policies and procedures using Component Interfaces. It starts out by making one small field change or screen change and continues into a downward endless spiral. The end result is a hugely customized PeopleSoft ERP environment. On one hand, it definitely helps the users to use the system in the way they want to. However, on the other hand, enterprises do not realize that these over customizations drive up maintenance and upgrade costs exponentially. Due to the customizations tailored to the organization, it is difficult to map data elements and the metadata when upgrading to a new version. With each version, you have to go back and make those custom changes again, which can create an upgrade nightmare, especially if those changes were not appropriate documented in the first place. This is why Sofbang recommends a “sticking with vanilla” approach to PeopleSoft implementations. Stay vanilla as possible and externalize your business logic layer with Oracle BPM, where process and screen customizations can be created and managed. Let Oracle BPM help you in handling all personalization requirements, taking care of the actual dependencies. Moreover, the underlying integration layer (Oracle SOA Suite) can be used as a middleware platform to integrate with other on-premise and cloud based applications. Keeping your ERP as vanilla as possible can significantly reduce your overall total cost of ownership, making things simplified and a lot more manageable in the long run. You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream. PeopleSoft vanilla, sprinkled with Oracle BPM and Oracle SOA Suite for me please. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Oracle SOA Suite Scalability (Part 1 of 3)

Scalability means different things to different people. It’s like a group of blindfolded people touching an elephant on different sides. Each person will have their own explanation and individual experience. Similarly, in the Oracle SOA Suite world, expansion and scalability of an Oracle SOA Suite environment means different things for everyone. For Administrators, it’s about adding more managed and admin servers to the existing Oracle SOA environment. For SOA Developers, it means adding more services and BPEL processes in the existing service repository. For IT Management, it is about how they can expand their initial Oracle SOA footprint to add more systems, attain further ROI and truly expand to a service oriented architecture framework for their enterprise.

From an Oracle SOA Suite middleware perspective, a detailed analysis of your current environment should be done. Ask yourself some of the following, when planning for Oracle SOA Suite scalability and expansion:

  • How much additional traffic can my current Oracle SOA Suite instance handle?
  • How easy is it to add more storage capacity?
  • How many more transactions can be processed?

In this series of 3 blog posts, I will focus on a few different components from service design, infrastructure setup and management/governance, which can be used as reference when you are considering scaling out your Oracle SOA Suite environment.

 

Service Design

When designing a service, think about decoupling first. The more decoupled the services are, the better scalable they are.

Graphik SOA Servicen Design by Sofbang

  • Avoid dependencies between services: Services must be designed for appropriate granularities that offer greater flexibility to service requestors without impacting performance and security.
  • Use Enterprise Bus: Use Enterprise Service Bus or a Mediator to achieve service virtualization rather than interacting with end services directly. An ESB acts as a message broker between consumers and services.
  • Think of reusability: Reusability is also another aspect that should be considered when designing the granular services to implement generic and reusable logic.
  • Asynchronous vs synchronous:
    a) Services invocation must be independent of the state of other services and each service invocation has all the required information from one request to another. This is acceptable as long as it occurs in the background and the principle can still be upheld for the specified service and its contract. By reducing resource consumption, the service can handle more requests in a reliable and scalable manner.
    b) Do not call an asynchronous service from a synchronous service which may cause timeouts, thread blocks, etc.
  • Oracle event delivery network (EDN): Use EDN if possible which provides maximum decoupling between participants.

In the next post, I will cover another important aspect: Sensible Oracle SOA Suite Infrastructure Setup, which plays a key role when considering scalability and expansion of your Oracle SOA Suite environment.

Mobile Work Order Management Using Oracle BPM

Mobile Work Order Management Using Oracle BPM

A successful, optimized service chain enables service organizations to increase resource efficiency, productivity, and utilization while reducing costs and enhancing the overall customer experience. With different mobile solutions in the market, gone are the days when members of your maintenance crew had to factor in “windshield time” when responding to work orders. Even if they’re driving or out in the field, they can now receive tasks, complete them, and update the system to keep everyone in the loop. This means faster response times, less time wasted on “remind me again” phone calls, less paperwork, and better workflow.
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