Oracle OpenWorld 2016: The State of SaaS and Applications Unlimited

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imageOracle has a broad SaaS portfolio: ready to run business applications that support enterprises in most common aspects of running a business. The flagship SaaS product line is based on Fusion Applications and covers four core areas: HCM and Sales (the first to come out as SaaS offerings) and ERP and Supply Chain Management (the second wave of Fusion Cloud Applications).

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The uptake of ERP Cloud is shown in this next slide, indicating that there is a significant number of companies across the world who has signed up to ERP Cloud. Unlike some of the other SaaS offerings from Oracle, ERP Cloud is not an acquisition, but the home grown Fusion Applications – on top of some of the underlying EBS foundations.

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In the past year, Oracle has rounded out this portfolio with the addition of Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (EPB).

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The next iteration for this portfolio will show evolution along several axes:

* niche solutions will be added to adapt the applications for specific regions and countries and specific industries

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* the degree to which the applications can be customized in terms of look and feel and user experience will be increased substantially

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* generic functional enhancements will be introduced through integrations with Oracle PaaS services; examples are the business object conversation on Social Network and the Fusion document attachments leveraging Documents CS:

machine learning and predictive analytics are expected to add even more value to the SaaS offerings. Also in the cards are more mobile support for SaaS and a richer user experience, for example with voice recognition based capture

* the platform options for extending and integrating with the SaaS applications will be improved; some examples:

  • the APIs for the SaaS applications are to be documented in the API Platform CS that will be launched in the Winter of 2016; these APIs are also rapidly being enhanced and increasingly exposed as REST/JSON services
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  • Cloud Adapters available in ICS and SOA CS support complex integrations from and into the SaaS applications
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  • the IoT CS has integrations into several SaaS applications as well as on premises standard business applications such as E-Business Suite and JD Edwards – metrics from for example equipment can be monitored, analyzed and after filtering, aggregation and analysis be fed into the relevant ERP systems
  • Application Builder Cloud Service will integrate with the SaaS APIs and allow business users to create user interfaces for specific reporting and manipulation.
  • The SaaS Extension cloud service JCS-SX is the landing platform for more complex SaaS extensions. It is positioned to embed new functionality in existing SaaS services’ UI, and create standalone mashup applications using data feeds from SaaS services or external sources. JCS-SX is fully managed by Oracle. It comes with out-of-the-box Single Sign-On (SSO) between the extension and the SaaS service, including self-service user management and access control. Java EE in general and Oracle ADF in particular are the technologies most commonly used for the SaaS extensions
  • Oracle Self Service Automation (no launch date yet) will allow business users to create simple integration recipes – similar to IFTTT – to feed data and events into SaaS applications or siphon them from SaaS applications
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* cross SaaS (and on premises app) data analysis and visualization tools and built-in (predictive) analytics

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Customer Experience Cloud

The label CX (Customer Experience) covers a set of SaaS products in the marketing and CRM space.

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Many of these products are former acquisitions – such as BlueKai, Eloqua, CPQ (Big machines), Involver, Maxymiser, Responsys, Vitrue, Collective Intellect, Compendium, FatWire and RightNow. The integration between the various products and areas (marketing, service, CPQ, commerce, customer data management) within the CX Cloud family is continuously being improved. Individual products are strengthened by leveraging the Oracle PaaS platform services. Additionally, the DaaS portfolio that offers Data as a Service, adds value to the CX Cloud Suite by making several billion consumer profiles available, segmented into over 40,000 segments.

On the left is the slide used by Thomas Kurian, on the right is Larry Ellison. His Data cloud is even better than Thomas’ set of identity graphs.

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The Oracle Data Cloud aggregates, analyzes, and activates consumer data into one unified solution that creates cross-channel consumer understanding, so that companies can know more about who their customers are, what they do, where they go, and what they buy.

A category of its own, and not even officially included in Oracle’s portfolio, is NetSuite. In July, Oracle announced its intention to acquire NetSuite – a vendor of a broad SaaS portfolio for the small and mid-sized business market. The portfolio is fully cloud based – and has been from the start of the company in 2002– and includes business accounting, ERP, CRM and ecommerce software. The acquisition is not yet formally completed and that is probably the reason why no plans have been communicated about the future of NetSuite within the Oracle family – about potential integration with other services for example.

Applications Unlimited

Applications Unlimited is Oracle’s commitment to continuously innovate in current applications while also delivering the next generation of Cloud applications. These current applications include E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. All of these stem from the 1990s and are firmly positioned in the on premises data center. When Oracle had taken possession of these product suites and started the development of Fusion Applications, it pledged to also keep up the work on these applications. And Oracle has done exactly that over the last decade and the roadmaps laid out in 2016 show that it intends to continue doing that. The traditional applications are still evolving [as promised]– and seem to benefit from SaaS and technological advances across the board. Support timelines for the current releases stretch well into the 2030s and new releases will continue to be delivered. For example for EBS:

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Oracle has described for each application how it can be deployed in the cloud. In all cases, this means running the application on Oracle IaaS (Compute and Storage) in combination with DBaaS. Additionally, the Oracle Managed Cloud Services – fka Oracle OnDemand – offers to run and manage the applications as fully managed cloud service. Note: many Oracle partners have similar offerings of a fully managed cloud based EBS, PeopleSoft, Siebel or JD Edwards instance.

E-Business Suite

The Oracle E-Business Suite clearly continues evolving – both in terms of its functional capabilities and in terms of user experience and generic features, such as desktop integration (with for example Excel), mobile applications and information discovery based on the Endeca technology.

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The cloud applications user experience – the simplified UI – has largely been adopted by E-Business Suite. For the most recent release of EBS, it is extremely challenging to tell Fusion Cloud pages apart from EBS screens.

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The underlying technology is largely the same: ADF running on WebLogic and interacting with Oracle Database. Note: some parts of E-Business Suite are still on Forms – version 10g R2. Given the fact that this Forms release runs in browsers using the JRE plugin and the end of support for this plugin in all modern browsers, Oracle is facing a challenge.

JD Edwards

Another example of a quickly evolving traditional application is JD Edwards. In the most recent 9.2 release for example, JDE has the EnterpriseOne Pages and Café One (Composite Application Framework) features, geared at the citizen developer who can compose and even build new pages in JD Edwards at run time.

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OneView is a reporting mechanism – based on BI Publisher – giving users full interactive reporting capabilities on tablet or desktop. JDE also introduces personalization in many aspects- from page configuration to favorite queries. The cloud user experience motto of simplicity, mobility and extensibility (or configurability) underlying Fusion Applications has also been adopted by JD Edwards. More of the design patterns and interaction styles in the Cloud SaaS applications are likely to come the way of JDE.

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Next steps suggested for JDE include integration with IoT, use of voice recognition, cognitive computing (aka machine learning) and enterprise (elastic) search. JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Internet of Things Orchestrator enables citizen developers to feed incoming data from IoT devices directly into JD Edwards applications, optionally leveraging the Internet of Things Cloud Service to deliver more control, visibility, and agility.

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JD Edwards is traditionally built with its own set of tools and technology. Over the last few years, the AIS (Application Interface Services) server has been introduced; it exposes REST services that allow retrieval and manipulation of JD Edwards business data in the same way as offered in the pages. Alternative user interfaces – such as mobile apps – can be developed on top of these services. JDE has also started to adopt ADF – the technology under Fusion Cloud applications and much of E-Business Suite – at least to some extent: EnterpriseOne web enterprise applications are built using Oracle ADF.

Download the AMIS OOW16 Highlights for an overview of announcements at OOW16.

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Developer Champion. Solution architect and developer on diverse areas including SQL, JavaScript, Docker, Machine Learning, Java, SOA and microservices, events in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press books: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook and Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on community events and conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle Code and Oracle OpenWorld.

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