Tools to Ease Integration

Oracle, Siebel enterprise application suites add features to connect multivendor environments.

Oracle Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. are each adding application integration features to their enterprise software suites to help customers connect business processes running in multivendor environments.

The goal is to reduce implementation times and development and support costs while breaking down walls between disparate applications.

Oracle will extend its portal-based integration strategy, which recently became available, with the forthcoming release of out-of-the-box adapters to third-party applications, said Rene Bonvanie, vice president of application servers at the Redwood Shores, Calif., company. Bonvanie declined to say which applications would be targeted or when the adapters are due.

This marks a shift for Oracle and CEO Larry Ellison. "Its unrealistic for us to think that all the good ideas come from Oracle; this is one big important realization weve had," said Ellison at Oracle AppsWorld here last week. But "no matter how well you do it, systems integration can never get all your information together in one place," he said.

Oracles integration pitch focuses on portal technology embedded in its 9i Application Server, which shipped with Version 11.5.6 of the Oracle E-Business Suite of applications in February. The portal enables integration for a new business intelligence tool called Daily Business Close, which presents data from various operational systems on an executives desktop.

Due within three months in the 11.5.7 release of the Oracle suite are Daily Business Close portlets for marketing, sales, human resources and contracting. Portlets are bits of code that extend the portal to other applications. Oracle said it expects to provide up to 200 role-based portlets.

Integration tools such as Daily Business Close will be helpful, users said, but not necessarily a cure-all.

"Were using the Oracle portal for integration, but well write our own JavaBeans to access our own applications," said Wayne Zhao, Oracle programmer with Ultradent Productions Inc., in South Jordan, Utah. "[Oracles] white paper says they will allow us to do that, so I think it will work. For the architecture, it will be no problem, but for detail, we may see some problems."

Zhao said he will also integrate Ultradents proprietary human resources module with Daily Business Close.

Meanwhile, Siebel, of San Mateo, Calif., made its own play at easing application integration last week with its UAN (Universal Application Network). Based on Web services and XML, UAN provides industry-specific processes and customized versions of integration software from SeeBeyond Technology Corp., IBM, TIBCO Software Inc., WebMethods Inc. and Vitria Technology Inc.

"Integration is a fact of life," said Charles Ewen, e-business development manager at Premier Farnell plc. The London-based company plans to use UAN to link Siebels and other applications. "You look for the [software developers] who are the leaders in each particular area. Most companies have strength in one area, then a lot of peripheral capabilities."