SAN DIEGO—In an about-face on its longheld contention that it is unnecessary to enable easy integration between its E-Business Suite applications and third-party enterprise applications, Oracle Corp. announced last week that it is doing just that.
“Really big companies dont want” to implement Oracle E-Business Suite exclusively, CEO Larry Ellison acknowledged at the companys Oracle AppsWorld user conference here.
To that end, the forthcoming E-Business Suite Version 11i.10, due midyear, will feature an enhanced integration layer and upgraded functionality for integrating business processes.
On top of that, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company introduced last week its Customer Data Hub, which provides a central data store that cleanses and enriches data culled from a variety of sources, including outside applications.
“It looks like [Oracle] is trying to open up their environment so companies like us can integrate [outside applications],” said Tom Ennis, senior director of IT applications at BMC Software Inc., in Houston. BMC runs Oracle E-Business Suite alongside customer relationship management software from Siebel Systems Inc., of San Mateo, Calif. “They are realizing they are not the only one in the world and opening up.”
In a roundtable discussion with a handful of reporters following his keynote address, Ellison spoke about backtracking on his old belief that customers would get more out of switching all their applications to Oracle, rather than integrating E-Business Suite with third-party applications.
“Integration is a change in our strategy,” said Ellison. “We got a fair share of [customer] wins, then listened to what customers wanted. … They [want] all their customer data in one place.”
“Oracle just realized this,” said BMCs Ennis. “Its only been in the past four or five months [Oracle realized] that companies have [Siebel] and SAP [AG] and will integrate to it.”
The upgrades planned for Version 11i.10 enable companies to support business-to-business integration, application-to-application integration and business process integration through a number of technical paths. For instance, Oracle will expose more than 800 integration points as business events and natively support more than 150 business objects based on Oracle Applications Group standards.
At the same time, the upgrade will provide an integration interface repository that catalogs the suites APIs—a move that will provide a single definition for the interfaces.
Version 11i.10 leverages the newly released Oracle 10g application server for third-party integration, officials said. The application server includes adapters, data translation and transformation capabilities, business process integration, and business activity monitoring.
The hub runs on the latest version of the E-Business Suite technology, the 9.R2 version of Oracles namesake database and its namesake application server. An integration server enables companies to model and integrate public processes. A data library cleans and enriches data.
In addition to data synchronization, users can build their own applications using the hub. But the goal is to bring in more information to support business reporting, not true application development, said Cliff Godwin, Oracle senior vice president of application technology.
Oracles strategy shift comes two years after enterprise applications leader SAP began opening up its R/3 applications with the NetWeaver integration stack. Competitors PeopleSoft Inc. and Siebel previously began to move toward easier integration as well.
“[Our] overall services and integration are comparable to NetWeaver,” said Godwin. “They represent a general integration framework.”
Oracle is undergoing a longer-term process to make its applications more open by replacing an older technology, called forms, with a newer, more open, Java-based interface, Godwin said.
Oracle customers welcomed the companys embrace of the heterogeneous IT architecture.
Jim McDowell, director of e-business strategy at Inter-Tel Inc., in Phoenix, said Oracles integration strategy gives him another alternative to collaborate with partners.
“I have 400 partners and distributors interacting with the exchange of data,” said McDowell, who runs Oracles E-Business Suite. “Any time [Oracle] opens another door to connectivity to other systems, its a good thing.”
A Jan. 26 story incorrectly reported the relationship between Oracle Corp.s addition of Java to its E-Business Suite of applications and its effort to certify the applications for use with its 10g technologies. The two are not related. In addition, Oracle applications have been able to operate to some degree with third-party application servers.