The Oracle Integration Cloud is a unified platform that allows enterprises to automate processes to manage business workflows, incorporate and create applications, and analyze results, thereby, allowing them to mesh data from IoT applications with third-party systems.
Sounds pretty standard -- so what makes it stand out?
Viktor Sahakian, vice president at Hitachi Consulting Corp., an Oracle partner, explained that Oracle Integration Cloud services are designed to make life simpler and straightforward for clients to support integration requirements.
"I have many clients where we don't use any integration cloud services because the IoT applications stand on their own," Sahakian said. "But there may be use cases for some clients where there may be a requirement to, for example, take feeds from the IoT platform and feeds from other sources, like a third-party system, and morph them into a single transaction." In those situations, he added, the customer might need or require Oracle Integration Cloud services. But as stand-alone applications that can function on their own, there's no need for them.
"Oracle IoT applications today provide what we call native integration in the form of digital thread," Sahakian said. "That functionality is provided out of the box from the IoT applications if you want to integrate to your Oracle Cloud ERP system."
However, a company that wants to integrate IoT data with a third-party application at the same time, or merge the data with some other pieces of information from another system and send it someplace else, may find it very helpful to use Oracle Integration Cloud services because of the particular use case, Sahakian said.
For example, if a company wants to combine IoT data with a third-party maintenance system where there is no native Oracle integration and merge that transaction, Sahakian said it may use Oracle Integration Cloud services to have a reference call against the third-party system and validate the information.
Bhagat Nainani, group vice president of IoT and blockchain application development at Oracle, agreed with Sahakian's assessment.
Oracle offers five IoT applications that typically work with organizations' existing business applications, he said, including asset monitoring to track the health, utilization and service needs of the assets; fleet monitoring to track vehicles, as well as shipments and driver behavior; production monitoring on the factory floor; connected worker monitoring to track workers and their environments to ensure safety; and service monitoring for customer-owned assets.
"If you look at all these applications, they are IoT applications, but they typically work in conjunction with existing business applications the companies have," he said. "So, for example, asset monitoring would typically work in conjunction with an enterprise asset management application. You would use production monitoring along with manufacturing where you already have your manufacturing work orders and manufacturing plans."
The IoT applications are built on top of IoT Cloud, Oracle's platform as a service, which includes capabilities around connecting devices, onboarding devices and bidirectional connectivity, Nainani said. IoT Cloud also includes real-time and big data analytics, as well as integration capabilities and machine learning capabilities for predictive analytics.
"The applications themselves have connectivity to other applications, either Oracle applications or third-party applications," he said. "For Oracle applications, take the example of our IoT asset monitoring connecting with our enterprise asset management system, or our production monitoring application connecting with our manufacturing cloud -- we have direct integration. You don't need to use Integration Cloud because these are both Oracle applications. We connect those workflows."
However, if an enterprise is using Oracle's IoT applications with third-party ones, such as Salesforce or SAP, it can use Oracle Integration Cloud to connect them.
Legacy Oracle systems also require its use, Nainani said. "So, if you're connecting to JD Edwards or Siebel, which are our traditional applications, you would use Integration Cloud. But if you're connecting to our cloud applications, we have a direct integration already built in; we don't need to use Integration Cloud to connect the two."
Furthermore, companies can use Oracle Integration Cloud to build custom applications from scratch using the platform's components, allowing them to have proprietary systems and get transactional data from those systems, he said.
Oracle Integration Cloud services in action
One company using Oracle Integration Cloud's custom app feature is Mitsubishi Electric Corp. The electronics manufacturer developed an industrial IoT platform for factory automation built on Oracle Cloud, Nainani said, adding that it is "using our production monitoring [application] with its own proprietary system that keeps track of what's happening on the factory floor. And it's using Integration Cloud to connect back to that system."
Vinci Facilities France, a facilities infrastructure and management provider, also uses Oracle Integration Cloud, Nainani said.
"[Vinci] manages commercial buildings and uses IoT to get data about equipment in those buildings, such as elevators and HVAC, as well as the temperature and environmental condition within conference rooms," he said. "It collects IoT data, does analytics and then if there are any issues that need to be reported or any service tickets, it creates a ticket in its CRM system. And it uses Integration Cloud to connect back to the CRM system after it gets the IoT data and the insights on the IoT data."
Seth Lippincott, a principal analyst at Nucleus Research, said Oracle's IoT capabilities are being positioned in the same way as many of its other emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and human interface.
Oracle is embedding the technologies within its enterprise applications so customers can use them as services based on their business needs. The strategy is to allow customers to consume the capabilities without undertaking a new significant investment, Lippincott said, adding that this is similar to how SAP works with customers to build the business case for technologies contained within its Leonardo package.
In terms of Oracle business applications, one of the 17 new ERP cloud modules released in the last 12 months, which cover financials, procurement, project portfolio management, enterprise performance management, risk management and supply chain management, was called "IoT Applications" under the supply chain management vertical.
"So, for the right business case, an enterprise application devoted specifically to IoT is something Oracle is bringing to market," Lippincott said. The applications are geared toward monitoring and analyzing data from assets, factory and production lines, fleets and shipments, workers, and customer assets. Since it is relatively new, the number of customers using these applications is limited -- let alone those in a position to discuss the value they are getting from it, he said.
"Oracle Integration Cloud is designed to help customers leverage data coming from on-premises applications and assets in addition to their [software-as-a-service] applications," he said. "It provides the connections that bridge applications, which is critical for the IoT capabilities Oracle is looking to provide."
From what global systems integrator and Oracle partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has experienced, customers are welcoming Oracle Integration Cloud. TCS has worked closely with Oracle on these early deployments, said Sivakumar Muthukrishnan, TCS's global alliance manager.
"This is likely due to Oracle being the natural choice for native integration deployment contexts," he said. "The technical skills required for Oracle Integration Cloud services are easily available, as Oracle has a large Fusion Middleware installed base. And our decades of being partners have improved the overall experience for both customer and vendor while consulting on these engagements."
Early adopters of Oracle Integration Cloud services include companies across diversified groups, high-tech and retail, most of which already have Oracle products on-premises, Muthukrishnan said.
Oracle Integration Cloud addresses all SaaS-to-SaaS and SaaS-to-on-premises integration use cases, ranging from customer data synchronization across applications, including IoT apps, to more advanced integration flows for processing opportunities, orders and more, he said.
"When you think about a customer's business, you notice that it's supported by a variety of business applications, some prebuilt and others custom-made," Muthukrishnan said. "And there has been a consistent need for multiple applications to interact with one another in real time to enable specific business functions."
Oracle is not just giving customers an IoT platform as such -- which any IoT platform vendor can provide -- but also the ability to combine IoT data with the rest of the enterprise stack -- otherwise you can't derive value from IoT, said Saurabh Sharma, principal analyst at Ovum.
"If I get value from device data, fine; but if I want to do some trend analysis and see how it ties in with the information I have, then it delivers value," Sharma said. "So, Oracle is saying IoT is fine, but we will integrate IoT with the rest of the enterprise stack -- that's where Integration Cloud service comes in."