In the last couple of years, enterprises have understood that mobile applications can help them reduce the infrastructure costs, boost productivity and facilitate flexibility of millennial employees. As a result, we now observe a plethora of enterprise mobile applications in the market. Employers and employees both find it challenging to manage and economically maintain multiple applications catering to different use cases.
This paper is a continuation of the previous whitepaper on Approach to Unified Mobile Application Implementation for Multisystem Integration. It discusses solution to the above mentioned problem by describing a sample integrated implementation which manages various important use cases from different legacy systems.
A unified mobile application acts as a one-stop solution for the sales team as it will mobilize use cases right from recruitment of sales team to submitting and approving their expense reports/purchase requisitions to managing opportunities and contacts along with respective follow-ups. This includes integration of various on-premise and cloud-based systems like Oracle EBS, Salesforce, Oracle Taleo, Kofax and MS Outlook. The entire design of the unified mobile application is scalable and modularized for ensuring flexibility and easy configuration.
The Unified Mobile App solution mentioned in the whitepaper provides an intuitive UI and also, a highly customizable and scalable solution. This paves the way for future integrations. Mobilizing legacy systems with Unified Mobile App has several advantages. You can seamlessly, share data where it’s needed to automate business processes. It provides users a 360-degree view of business critical information.
This paper explains how to build a Unified Mobile Application to Integrate SalesForce.com (SFDC), Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), Taleo, Outlook and Kofax Modules.
In this section, we have explained with a real-world scenario on how RapidValue has implemented a Unified Mobile application solution to integrate Oracle EBS, Taleo, Salesforce and MS Outlook Modules using Kofax as a third party storage system.
Synchrony between Oracle MAF/PhoneGap and Oracle MCS can help to swiftly churn out cross-platform applications integrating multiple ERP, CRM and third party storage systems (modules like I-expense/Approvals from Oracle EBS, Kofax for third party file storage, Salesforce and MS Outlook) to provide a unified mobile experience. With Oracle Mobile Cloud Service (MCS) & Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF), You can seamlessly orchestrate MS exchange services, EBS web services, Kofax document store services and cloud based Salesforce services and also can implement the integrated cross-platform app (Android/ iOS) within 6-8 weeks which otherwise with a native approach, will take 22-24 weeks of effort. That is approximately 65-75% lesser time compared to the usual method of mobilizing.
The key benefit of embarking on cloud journey with Oracle MCS is that it opens doors to future integrations with different modules of multiple systems. Thus, reducing future compatibility cost.
Some of the essential features for the unified mobile application are:
The major layers/components of the architecture deployed for mobilizing Oracle EBS with Salesforce and MS Outlook integration is explained below:
Oracle MCS : Oracle MCS is used as an integration and mobile backend services system. Push notifications, mobile user management are managed using MCS. Custom APIs are developed for web service orchestration (aggregation) using MCS for Oracle EBS services, Outlook, Taleo and Salesforce API’s. Also, MCS is used for logging transactional data like various events from mobile, API performance etc. for getting analytical information for mobile app usages.
Secure Integration : The web services are exposed from Oracle EBS using ‘Java Container’ (Custom) which creates REST APIs from the Oracle Pl/SQL custom packages deployed in Oracle DB. The Java Container is connected to Oracle DB using Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) connection. The Java Connector also, fetches and posts files to Kofax (a third party file storage system).The Rest services are passed to Oracle MCS using a Reverse proxy setup in DMZ layer for additional security to mask the enterprise systems from internet. There will be internal and external reverse proxies. For high availability, a load balancer is also used in external DMZ.
Authentication : The mobile application is authenticated using MCS SSO with Microsoft AD which is federated. (ADFS) ADFS sits on top of AD (which is in sync with OID) and thus, it is federated for Oracle EBS, Salesforce, Taleo and Outlook.
Oracle MCS makes the architecture future proof, scalable and secure. Also, with out-of-the box connectors available for other integration services, like Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS), the architecture is more ‘future-designed’ at a time when the companies are moving towards Cloud infrastructure. Using MCS, more cloud services can be integrated as it facilitates faster creation of Custom API and Connector API. Also, MCS is compatible with multiple mobile platforms with out-of-the box SDKs for native iOS, Android and cross- platform frameworks like Oracle MAF and Xamarin etc. It has technologies for location API, Analytics, Document Storage, Push Notifications, Connector API’s etc. which help the organization to build on top of current architecture for future requirements such as location services or analytic reporting.
For organizations using ADFS as SSO federated system, list of user IDs (to be used in unified mobile app) can be uploaded to MCS in order to map it to AD. The user id repository in MCS can be updated regularly from ADFS using an automated Selenium scripts.
Oracle Internet Directory (OID), which is part of Oracle Identity Management Solution of Fusion middleware product suite, is used for implementing secure login from the mobile application to Oracle E-Business ERP. OID, leveraging the security from Oracle database layer, helps to authenticate against Oracle EBS through Oracle Access Manager (OAM). OID integrates seamlessly with Microsoft AD and gets in sync with AD user profiles.
Salesforce, Taleo and Outlook use ADFS and AD for login respectively, so there is no other mapping required for implementing secure login from the mobile application.
Thus, with a single sign-on ID, defined in Active directory, the user can access different systems like Oracle EBS, Salesforce, Taleo and MS outlook calendar on his/her mobile device.
Using the same architecture explained above, the following use cases can also, be easily mobilized in a mashed up way.
Field ServiceManagementApproval ManagementInventory Management
Order ManagementProcurement ManagementHRMS
I-ExpenseTime and LaborSFDC
Tale of Outlook
The unified mobile application solution, owning to custom java connector and cloud integration, not only provides an intuitive UI but also a highly customizable and scalable solution which open doors to future integrations. Mobilizing legacy systems with the unified mobile application has a plethora of advantages like:
Increased Employee Productivity : This flexibility helps the employee to maintain a good work-life balance as employees can utilize their travelling time and can effectively contribute by taking timely business decisions.
Promotes BYOD Culture, Reduces Infrastructure Cost and Provides Easy Maintenance : Mobilizing daily use cases of multiple legacy systems will surely incur initial investment but the savings in the long run, wins the deal. Since employees are free to use their own mobile devices, employers save a lot of equipment/paper printing costs and also, avert delay in business decision making. A unified mobile application saves employers from spending on maintenance of multiple apps catering to different legacy systems.
Drastic Reduction in Transaction Time (up to 75 %) : The expense approval time which typically takes between 1-5 days can be reduced to 2 to 4 hours using Oracle MCS.
Quick Time to Market : Owning to pre- built connectors and adapters, the unified application solution can be quickly configured to work with any legacy system like Oracle EBS, Mainframes, SFDC, SAP, Outlook etc.
With Oracle MCS and MAF, you can develop cross-platform applications for Android / iPhone using a single source code. Oracle MCS simplifies the integration as most of the backend features could be siphoned off to MBAAS. There are SDKs and out-of-box APIs for features like Push Notification, Storage collections, Location API, Custom connectors and Analytics. Custom API creation and aggregation for Oracle EBS, Taleo, Outlook & Salesforce APIs is quicker. End points for web services in MCS could be tested faster during the implementation using MCS console. Overall, with cross platform mobile development frameworks and MCS we could implement a lot more features in half the time frame (~50 % reduction in time to market).
Identification of Usage Patterns in Business Processes using MCS Analytics : Leveraging mobile client SDK, MCS can record data and provide analytical details on Users, Sessions and API calls details. The analytical information will help CIO of companies to:
Cross-platform Availability : The unified application is available on Android, iOS & Windows, in both mobile and tablet versions.
Mashup Data from Multiple Sources : The unified application can integrate multiple sources like SFDC, Mainframes, Taleo, Oracle EBS, SAP, Outlook etc.
Highly Secure Environment : The use of reverse proxies both externally and internally masks the backend systems from Internet and the mobile application does not directly communicate with legacy systems.
Highly Scalable : Since the unified mobile is based on cloud platform, it can easily be scaled up for higher usage.
Much More to Offer than Standard ’Out-of-the box’ Apps
The Unified Mobile Application Solution is highly modular and can adapt to any specific client use cases. The modules are loosely coupled which makes it easy to add and remove different functionalities and features that can mobilize various backend systems. A typical Unified Mobile Application implementation can provide a one stop solution integrating multiple modules from SFDC, Oracle EBS, Taleo , Outlook and Kofax systems and present data in a mashed up way. Owning to cloud infrastructure , the web services can be scaled up and adapt to different user loads. The secure architecture uses internal and external reverse proxies to ensure that the enterprise backend systems are not directly exposed to internet. The user analytics feature provided by Oracle MCS can help identify process pain points and thus, further add to ROI.