Since a few years cloud computing has become more and more popular. The main types of cloud computing are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). In the past, several subareas have been established in the market and pushed by research companies. One subarea is Integration PaaS (IPaaS) and a variety of vendors have provided solutions. One advantage of IPaaS solutions is the simplified integration. Furthermore, IPaaS provides the capability to integrate cloud- and on-premise applications. Oracle announced Integration Cloud Service (ICS) as an IPaaS solution in June.
This article describes a first impression and the key components of ICS.
First experience with ICS
After the login to ICS, you will get greated with an organized and clean overview. The page provides an overview on the three main functional areas. Figure 1 shows the areas and the simple and tablet-friendly user interface. The functional areas are divided into Connections, Integrations and Dashboard.
Figure 1: ICS Start Page (click on the picture to see an enlarged version of the picture)
The Connections-area provides the capabilities to define configurations to specific application endpoints. These configurations are based on technology adapters such as SOAP, application adapters for on premise application e.g. eBusiness Suite and cloud adapters for cloud applications e.g. Oracle Sales Cloud. The connection could be used for several integrations and one of the main benefits is the reusability of the configuration. In addition, the integration developer does not need to know details about the service or application when using the preconfigured adapter.
The most important functional area is Integrations. It provides the functions to develop the integration flows and lookups. The overview page shows all integrations with the possibility to filter by status. The user interface to develop the integration is kept as simple as possible.
Figure 2 shows the integration development and the clean interface you will already know from the overview. Target, source and transformation are the key elements of an integration scenario. The source and target can be defined with preconfigured connections or technology adapters such as Rest or SOAP. The transformation for request and response messages is placed in the middle of the screen.
Figure 2: ICS Integration (click on the picture to see an enlarged version of the picture)
Besides the key elements, there are enrichment points for request and response. They provide a mechanism to get data from another source and enrich the request and response messages. The user interface is intuitive and easy to handle. You can drag and drop a source, provide information with the support of a wizard and finish the source configuration.
The transformation with XSLT is simple too. On request, response and fault wires will make it possible to add mapping. The underlying technology is XSLT which will be shown in form of an editor by ICS. Figure 3 shows the design view with a simple transformation. You can also choose a more technical editor which is closer to XSLT. Despite the look, this is not a fully functional XSLT editor, but as cloud integration scenarios should be kept clean and simple it is sufficient.
Figure 3: ICS Mapping Editor (click on the picture to see an enlarged version of the picture)
Another cool feature of the mapping is the recommend function. The feature provides recommended mappings e.g. lastname to Name and the option to rate a mapping. This also means you could analyze your mapping and use best practices from Oracle. Additionally, there seems to be a social collaboration tool in development mapping.
The Dashboard area provides the capability to monitor integrations. You can view statistics of delivered messages and information on single integration flows. Although it is not a full blown Cloud Control, it still makes important information accessible.
New ways of integration
The new ICS provides new ways of application integration in a simple manner. This kind of simplicity needs new ways of thinking which obviously affect the design of services. In a traditional service oriented Architecture (SOA) the key principle is the reusability of services. This is mostly achieved by loose coupling of applications. An important concept for this loose coupling are Enterprise Business Objects or canonical data models. However, it is not possible to handle these large and often complex data models inside ICS. Either, this has to change to guarantee reusability or it’s not even necessary because integration is much simpler.
An additional challenge for ICS will be the appropriate deployment model, which is not a particularly new issue as it exists since cloud applications have first been used in companies. However, usually there are not as many instances for dev, test, pre-production and production as in the on-premise world. Furthermore, you need to think about a suitable deployment, because the access is through the web interface.
These challenges are solvable, in fact, ec4u solved similar problems with other cloud applications.
The new ICS from Oracle is built on a stable infrastructure and a proven technical product stack. The available adapters, intuitive user interface and simplified XSLT provide the capability for integrations. However, next to the easy use, there needs to be a new approach to deployment concepts and integration architecture. The adapters provided by Oracle will grow while the flexibility to build an own adapter can be provided by the Cloud Adapter SDK. Later on, there will be prebuilt integrations from Oracle and partners.
We at ec4u believe that ICS will be successful and provides a clear advantage to our customers.
In case of any questions regarding ICS or traditional integration, don’t hesitate to contact us.