Monday 2 January 2017

A good year for the Clouds

At last we stumbled into a new year. New rounds, new chances as we say in Dutch. I ended 2016 and start 2017 on a project that involved the implementation of several Oracle Cloud products, where I'm responsible for ICS and PCS. But I also did several on-premise projects. So from a current Integration/Process Cloud implementation what to think about Oracle's Cloud plans?

Last fall, one of my managers came home from a presentation where Oracle's on-premise products were declared to be deceased. According to the presenter Oracle announced that they will focus only on Cloud and no new functionality would be introduced into the on-premise products.

But honestly, I don't believe any of the 'SOA/BPM Suite on-premise is dead'-announcements. And if I turn out to be wrong in the end, I tend to call it a foolish decision.

I find it perfectly reasonable that Oracle mainly focuses on  Cloud these days. Of course Oracle needs to grow into a first-class Cloud Provider. Thus that Oracle decides to bring out new functionality first into PCS and ICS and possibly SOACS makes perfectly sense. For every functionality they need to think about how, in terms of UI,  to provide it in the Cloud product as well. But keep in mind that PCS runs on the exact same process engine as BPEL and BPMN. And that the exact same counts for Business Rules engine. So changes in those components eventually benefits the on-premise counterparts.

I remember that when I joined Oracle almost 20 years ago, I learned that Larry Ellison declared that we don't need the guys with the glue-guns, since Oracle had E-Business Suite. Which caters for everything a company might need in a software system. But customers turned out to have very plausible and good reasons (at least in their own opinion... 😉 ) to choose for E-Business Suite  for financials and Siebel for CRM or other solutions for particular functional areas. And those products need to be integrated. Oracle eventually understood that and provided InterConnect back then. And later introduced BPEL Process Manager and SOASuite.

Nowadays more and more enterprises are looking to Cloud Solutions for parts of their businesses. But will keep using on-premise solutions for other parts. Some companies still need to keep their datacenters for parts of the IT. Possibly because of the need for several other products that are only available in an on-premise variant. Maybe for regulatory reasons. Or maybe other very plausible reasons, for instance those that are agreed on the golf-course or tennis-court...

So I think Oracle can't get around providing on-premise versions of Fusion Middleware.

What I do think, and really hope, is that On-premise and cloud will grow towards each other. Years ago (back in 2009, I still have emails to back it up) I was in a conversation with a Product Manager and SOA Architect, about how BPM in the cloud could work while connecting to services in the data center. I envisioned a service like with Log Me In, where a local agent connects to the Services in the Cloud that provides control, introspection and call-outs to the local services.

Now in ICS we have the concept of on-premise agents, which is actually a light-weight Weblogic that allows you to connect Cloud Integrations with on-premise services. Although this agent is a good thing, along the lines of my earlier visions, I think it can be better. What about an cloud/on-premise-integration layer in the Fusion Middleware infrastructure?

In the PCS configuration panes you can provide the URLs to your Integration Cloud Service and Document Cloud Service subscriptions. That enables you to introspect into your Integrations and seamless integration with DOCS. I'd like to see that with FMW Infrastructure (the Weblogic+ installation which is the basis for SOASuite, OSB, etc.) you get a configuration pane in which you could provide the details of your cloud subscriptions. The FMW Infrastructure could have functionality similar to the current ICS Agents. It could connect independently to the particular cloud services and register itself there. You could register wsdls for local third-party services. But if you install OSB or SOASuite or other FMW components it natively gets information on all the services that are deployed to that FMW environment. And then from ICS or PCS you could introspect those. When you connect with JDeveloper to that environment you could introspect into the services and processes in ICS and PCS, to call them from your SOA/BPM composites or OSB services. Just like how you'd do that with local composites or services. That would give you a convenient and transparent experience.

If Oracle could build that into the FMW Infrastructure the boundaries would fade, and FMW would grow into the sky, and the clouds would come down to earth.  I'd like that. I hope a Product Manager of Oracle will pick this up. I would happily exchange thoughts about this.

But above all I hope you have a great 2017. Enjoy this new year with all its great potential.

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