Oracle boosts integration with Project X

Oracle has taken another major step towards the integration of the PeopleSoft, Siebel, and JD Edwards products it has acquired with the announcement of new Application Integration Architecture (AIA).

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Oracle has taken another major step towards the integration of the PeopleSoft, Siebel, and JD Edwards products it has acquired with the announcement of new Application Integration Architecture (AIA).

The product, which is promising increased flexibility for users of the many variants of Oracle owned enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, was announced by company president Chuck Phillips at Oracle's Collaborate '07 User Group Conference in Las Vegas.

AIA is a framework in which the functionality of Oracle's application portfolio - the company has acquired 27 rival software houses in little over two years - can be recombined and tailored to enterprise needs.

As part of the framework the company is creating Process Integration Packs (PIPs), which are pre-built workflows that embody horizontal or vertical sets of business processes. The first two, available now, integrate Siebel CRM with the Oracle E-Business Suite.

Oracle vice president of development and strategy Jose Lazares described AIA as "an open standards-based platform that we expect to be leveraged by Oracle, our partners, and our customers to deliver best practices and industry-specific, cross-application business processes." The PIPs draw on the functionality of Oracle's Fusion middleware and are "pre-packaged and delivered as products that can be sustained and delivered over time."

According to Lazares, the first PIP verticals will be telecommunications, resale, financial services, consumer packaged goods, and high-tech manufacturing.

Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst at Burton Group, described Oracle's AIA as "brilliant." The software giant has "done a beautiful job of service-oriented design. They've defined a set of XML vocabularies that their applications can now share."

She noted that, with Oracle's multiple acquisitions, AIA has solved a problem faced by many large enterprises: creating arrays of interoperable services in a diverse application environment.

But Bill Swanton, analyst at AMR Research said in a research note that the new tools will let corporate users implement cross-functional business processes. However, he warned that the success depends on Oracle ensuring the offering does become too complex or expensive for customers to implement.

The announcement appears to target hardcore Oracle shops that already license multiple Oracle applications -- and have the stomach for multiple PIP licenses as well. But the potential for greater flexibility is there, because both the PIPs and the Oracle applications interoperate using standards that are application-independent. Ultimately, Oracle wants to create an ecosystem of third parties that can license their solutions in the AIA mix.

"Any application within our portfolio and/or third party application can be plugged in, as long as they map to the common object model and service definition," said Lazares.

"Ultimately, system integrators, and ISVs can start to build out capabilities beyond just the context of Oracle applications." The BPM tools included with Oracle's Fusion middleware offering can be used by customers that want to create new processes or connect to third party applications. To do so, however, they will need a full license for Oracle's SOA Suite.

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