Build and Buy
An Oracle technologist looks at the principles
for integrating built and bought solutions.
Today, it is uncommon for organizations to completely build their own enterprise
applications. There are better options for
acquiring packaged enterprise solutions with
some level of customization that serve a particular need in our organizations.
Inevitably, there will be parts of our
organizations whose needs are not met by
the enterprise solutions, which will lead
to departmental efforts to buy or build
applications that satisfy those needs. These
applications often undercut our ability to
consistently and cost-effectively manage our
software and technology ecosystem.
As a result, many I T organizations face
three basic questions:
What do we need to build, customize,
enhance, or extend to fill the gaps in our
enterprise applications and still maintain
consistent use of information resources?
What do we need to do to support con-
sistent integration of departmental
applications built with nonstandard technologies and toolsets with our enterprise
Finally, what do we need to build or
buy to support our disparate enterprise and departmental customers and
CUS TOMIZE, ENHANCE, EXTEND
We need to be prepared to make changes that
extend the enterprise software’s capabilities.
To get in front of departments that are frustrated by lack of functionality or the slow pace
of change, we as technologists need to provide
a common platform and toolset so that we can
provide consistent support. For customizations of the core system, the obvious solution
is to leverage the development tools and flexible data structures provided by the platform
to enhance the existing functionality.
Customizations and extensions are not
always seamless, however, and that leads
us to the next question: how can organiza-
tions support consistent integration?
Consistent use of both function and data is
one of the largest challenges our organizations face, which often drives the desire
for an enterprise solution. However, as
described above, finding the perfect fit is
elusive. Inevitably, we will need to integrate
custom or third-party functionality and data
with our enterprise applications.
There are four basic types of integration:
service, information, process, and technology.
Any time we integrate solutions, we need to be
cognizant of all four aspects. Services, or the
basic functionality of the processes we integrate, must be complementary. Information,
or the data we need to share across services,
must be consistently managed and shared.
Processes must be flexible to orchestrate the
sequence in which services are executed and
information exchanged. Technology, or the
platforms that enable service, information,
and process integration, must also be a manageable, consistent stack.
As technology professionals, we typically
focus on the technology platform. There are
tools within Oracle Database that support
the development of both services and information integration capabilities, including
PL/SQL, Oracle Application Express, and
Oracle Warehouse Builder. From a middleware perspective, Oracle Fusion Middleware
products and technologies—including
Oracle WebCenter Suite, Oracle SOA Suite,
Oracle Data Integrator, Oracle Business
Intelligence, and Oracle Business Process
Management—also support more-complex
service and information integration.
SUPPORTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Regardless of whether your applications and
technology platforms include only Oracle
products or a mix of other products, the key
to success in build-versus-buy scenarios
is having a consistent technology platform
and development tools. What we can control
through consistent use of platforms and
tools is the time to market and overall cost
to support the integration of departmental
customizations and third-party extensions.
WHERE TO GE T ANS WERS
If you have questions about build-versus-buy decisions or any other issues
around the use of Oracle software and
hardware, there’s good news: communities
of Oracle users and customers have been
helping solve problems and sharing solutions for decades. And although each group
has its own focus, the different groups are
increasingly working together because their
members are increasingly working together.
(See “Next Steps” for links to the largest
Oracle user group communities.)
is president of the
Users Group (IOUG)
and has been an active
volunteer with the organization since 1998. In
his day job, he is an information management
and business intelligence consultant.
LEARN more about
the Oracle Development Tools User Group
the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG)
Quest International Users Group
1 Enterprise Integration: The Essential Guide to Integration Solutions, by Beth Gold-Bernstein (Addison-Wesley, 2004)