Building Integrated Mobile Apps using Oracle Mobile Cloud Service (MCS)

The evolution of enterprise mobile applications has exploded over the last few years; mobility and cloud computing is also transforming the way of working with bring your own device (BYOD). Most mobile applications need to connect with a backend systems to provide employees with the most up-to-date information anytime from anywhere. When you connect with these backend systems it requires sensitive and confidential data to be transferred between mobile app and multiple backend systems for different operations such as user authentication and integration with ERP system. Keeping this in mind enterprises need to consider mobile solutions with complete management capabilities such as analytics, uniform integration platform for various cross-platform products, user management, and push notifications ensuring all security compliance.

Oracle Mobile Cloud Service (MCS) is a cloud based MBaaS platform that can provide these capabilities with easy to adopt SDKs and utility classes. They can easily be integrated with any mobile client which support RESTful APIs. It comes with several built in APIs such as Push Notifications, Data Offline / Sync, Mobile User Management, Analytics, Mobile Storage, and Device Management.  To integrate with backend systems, it comes with connector API which can connect with any backend systems using SOAP/REST APIs.

Sofbang has used Oracle MCS services with our recent mobile applications developed on Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF). With Oracle MCS we are able integrate with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) using REST connectors for creating and managing service request and work orders. With Oracle MAF we have used Java utility classes to connect with the Mobile Backend that we have created with MCS. Personally, I like the Mobile Backends concept because:

  • We can configure and manage the API that will be used by the mobile applications, and can define what API should be used by which mobile backend and which mobile application.
  • We can easily monitor and diagnose API calls and other activities within a single console. Sending and monitoring notifications is one of the great features of the mobile backend.
  • Deploying to production and staging is very easy, we can create different version of backend for development.
  • We can define user management for that mobile backend etc.
  • Utilize built-in security features such as Basic Auth, SAML 2.0, and UserName Token profiles.

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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!