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Oracle PIPs: Redefining Real Time Integration

I am sure a lot of us are already aware; few months ago Oracle released Process Integration Packs (PIP) based on Oracle Fusion Application Integration Architecture (AIA) framework. These PIPs establish pre-built integration between applications via AIA layer and are modeled on the SOA best practices. Through this article I have attempted to analyze the key features of the PIPs as well as the challenges that might surface while implementing.

At Infosys, we recently co-partnered with Oracle to develop new PIPs. These PIPs were based on two existing PIPs:
• OCH (Customer Hub) PIP - Establishes SOA based integration between Oracle Siebel UCM, Oracle eBusiness Suite and Siebel CRM
• O2C (Order to Cash) PIP - Establishes SOA based integration between Oracle eBusiness Suite and Siebel CRM
The gist was to reuse the components from the existing PIP and develop new PIPs to establish integration between:
1. Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP: For Order to Cash Flow sync
2. Oracle Siebel UCM and SAP: For Customer Master Data sync

The PIPs indeed offer rapid integration between packaged applications. It almost completely takes away the complexity and rigor involved in establishing real time sync via middleware (Oracle Fusion / AIA is prerequisite). Sculpted on SOA best practices, there is minimal change needed at the applications (eBS, Siebel, SAP..), the middleware platform establishes the data mapping, cross references and any other transformation needed to ensure diverse applications integrate for the said functionality. The whole PIP concept is still in its nascent stages, but for sure there is a lot of promise and value in the overall integration benefits realized by the clients as well as the system integration vendors.

Having mentioned this, I would also like to iterate few challenges that must be confronted to establish PIP like integration. At client environments where any AIA PIP is being licensed, I have seen general curiosity among client IT to know the grey areas in order to establish PIP like integration of packaged apps like Oracle Siebel UCM, Siebel CRM with other enterprise applications. Would like the mention the following points that must be kept in mind while conceiving such integration – off course, coming from packaged applications background, I have written this from application consultant’s point of view :
Contrary to the general belief, development of a custom PIP – entirely or partly based on any existing PIP, requires a lot more from application teams then merely testing the functional flows after the technical work is done at the AIA layer. There is a lot of collaboration involved between all the teams (application teams, AIA team) to develop packaged integration.

Applications teams must be adequately staffed to tend to the following:
• Functional Leadership - This is unique flavor of the PIP development programs. Although the majority of technical development is done on AIA, the functional leadership is to be provided by the application teams so as to map the functional flows across applications.
• Data Mapping – Due to the differences in Data Model between applications, data mapping is one of the most complex tasks during PIP design. It is important to have experienced data migration experts on both application teams to help facilitate data mapping.
• Out of the box message structure / Web services may not work – Despite the best interests from all the parties, the OOB message structure of the base PIP may not work. This may mean changes to the standard canonical data model and also to the underlying integration architecture – Web Services, Integration objects etc.
• Setting up Cross references, Domain Value maps
• Integration Testing – Seamless integration between apps is the primary objective of the PIP, utmost importance is to be given to the entire testing mechanism. Integration test cases should be carefully drafted so as to mention the steps to be executed at each layer (participating applications, AIA) for each scenario. During test case execution, a lot of collaboration is needed to check the hand-shake across layers and the appropriate flow of information.

I invite all comments/messages to this blog. PIPs is definitely a new and evolving concept, let us all gain from each others experiences while we implement this new integration mechanism with clients.


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