Oracle is accelerating the delivery of all of its Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions to gain market share in the cloud space. The Oracle Process Cloud Services (PCS), a Paas Solution, is one of the new services that is delivered now in controlled availability to a selected set of customers, and will be general available in the near future. With this service we are entering a new era for development and management of processes with Oracle technology. The cloud based delivery and management model of the processes is aimed at simplification and improvement of time-to-market. 

PCS builds on top of the already existing Oracle BPM technology. The delivery of functionality towards the cloud will be gradually extended in the coming releases. We see this product as a potential game-changer in the market, because of the simplicity and possible mash-up scenarios with other Oracle PaaS offerings and on-premise applications.

In this article we will have a quick glance at what the Process Cloud offers, look at typical use cases and see the look-and-feel of development.

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1.The Oracle Process Cloud Services page

From Oracle BPM towards the Process Cloud

Oracle added BPM as part of the Oracle SOA Suite in 2011, and has expanded the functionality on a continuous basis, with Adaptive Case Management the latest addition last year to the BPM stack. The predecessor for the PCS product is Proces Composer, and is used side-by-side with the Oracle SOA and BPM IDE JDeveloper. Process Composer was always known to have potential but always lacked the look-and-feel and stability. 

With the strategy change of Oracle towards the cloud, all means are made available to get BPM in the cloud. In discussions we had with BPM Product Management, they said that 70% of the development team is now working on the Process Cloud solution. The team is busy with revamping the front-end of the BPM Task workspace and simplifying the Process Cloud design and run time environment.  The result is a simplified Web Portal with Apple like look-and-feel. The Process Cloud dashboard below shows all functionalities of the Process Cloud used by end-users (Work on Tasks), process owners and (Track Instances and View Dashboards), Administrators (Manage Application) and Developers (Develop Processes).
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2.The Process Cloud Dashboard provides access to the process personas base upon roles based access

 

Use Cases for the Oracle Process Cloud

The Process Cloud can be used in a variety of situations where task management, integration with on-premise and integration with SAAS applications are vital. 

Typical use cases for the Process Cloud are:

Forms driven applications

In these applications tasks management is used to guide the end-users though a process by means of rich Web Forms. Examples of these applications are the loan approval and travel request. 

Workforce management 

In Workforce management engineers are executing their work customer locations or industrial areas. They need to install appliances at the homes of customers, check assets in an industrial area and need to enter their task data in an App on a PDA. Oracle Process Cloud comes out-of-the-box with a Task App (iOS and Android). 

Cloud - On-premise combination

Even though Oracle is moving towards a full cloud strategy, most customers will keep (a part of) their landscape as an on-premise back-bone for the foreseeable future. Cloud inclusions can (and will) be added on top of existing on-premise applications. The Process Cloud can be used to combine Cloud and on-premise applications together to form end-to-end processes across departments and even cross companies.

Modernisation

One of our Capgemini offerings deals with Modernisation of old Forms based ERP like applications. These applications contain essential functionality in the landscape of our customers. Compliance requirements, Customer demands and Time-to-market factors cannot be handled sufficiently by these old applications. Typically process execution is intertwined with transaction logic in these legacy applications and is very hard to change. A first step in the modernisation of these applications can be the exclusion of the core processes from the application, which simplifies the functionality and makes it possible to change the process faster an decreases the risk when the business logic is handled. Process cloud is a great asset to help in this process exclusion.

Change in release cycles

The entire run-time (maintenance) aspect of the Process Cloud is in the hands (and responsibility) of Oracle. This gives Oracle direct insight in the usage of processes used by its customers, and helps improving the product in a much faster pace than we’ve seen before. This also impacts the release cycle of the product. PCS will be launched with the bare minimum of functionality, but we can expect additional functionality to be added in shorter release cycles.

Application development with PCS

Application development with the Oracle Process Cloud is, as the name suggests, completely done in the cloud. The ability to develop processes at high speed encourages developers and business users to do the development in an agile and interactive way. The development mainly consists of the creation of six parts. These parts are:

Processes

Forms

Decisions

Webservices

Business types

In the following paragraphs I will shortly describe each of these to give you a good overview of how development is done.

 

Processes

The main starting point for development is the process. Just as in Oracle BPM the process can be developed using a BPMN process in which webservices, business rules and forms can be invoked. The process can be started in an automated way using messages and by means of human interactions with web forms. When using forms a user can start a process in the process workspace. When selecting a message the process can be triggered by an external system. Templates can be used to start off with pre-build BPMN processes.

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3.Process design
Webforms

The power of the process cloud can be found in the ability to very easily create user forms. By drag and dropping you can select various elements like tables, sections, input fields and dropdowns. All these elements can be sized, styled and put on the right position easily. Extra required screen logic can be implemented using a javascript-based rule engine. This way validations, show/hide elements, filling dropdowns etc. can be done.

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4.Webform development
Webservices

Integration with other systems can be done using webservices, and is an important part of the Process cloud. This is done by importing a wsdl and when needed adding security settings.

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5.Webservice configuration

 


Rules and Decisions

Business rules used in the process can be created using decision tables. Just as in Oracle BPM/Case Management rules can be created easily and self-explanatory. First you select the right variables, then the different values and finally the actions that need to be taken.

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6.Rules design


Business types

The data objects that are used in the processes, and flow through the process, can be created using business types. This can be done before creating the forms using wsdl/xsd schemas. The creation of business types is also automatically done when creating forms. These business types can then be used in the other development areas.

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7.Business types

 


Conclusion

Oracle moves 'full steam ahead' into the cloud market. The latest addition to the PaaS services is the Oracle Process cloud services (PCS). PCS is a game changer in process implementations and provides our customers benefits from fast agile process delivery on top of existing on-premise applications. Developing the process cloud is pretty straightforward and if you have experience with developing Oracle BPM many parts will look very familiar. With agile development made easy, easy developer/business user interaction and many new features on the way Process Cloud is a game changer in BPM.

Léon Smiers - Capgemini

Léon Smiers works as a Solution Architect for Capgemini The Netherlands in the area of Oracle Technology and Architecture, where he is one of the leading Oracle specialists. He has done a lot of work and research in the field of Integration and new technologies and architectures, like SOA, BPM, EDA, RFID, Process and GUI integration, on which he wrote articles and presented on international conferences. Currently Léon is setting up Solution Architectures for large Oracle based projects and is Oracle Case Management / BPM Thought Leader for Capgemini.

Léon publishes in 2015 the book "Oracle Case Management Solutions" together with Oracle Product Management (http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781482223828 ).

Léon is co-inventor of the Common Reference Architecture mode or CORA model, which helps in getting control over the IT landscape in a Hybrid environment and delivers a predictable, repeatable and risk-aware solution design (http://www.coramodel.com )

Contact: Blog  LinkedIn Twitter

Jeroen van Essen – Capgemini

As an Oracle Fusion Middleware expert I provide clients strategic advantage by improving processes andinnovation. My key interest areas include Business Process Management, Cloud, Business Intelligence and agile development.  I have experience in the utilities, rail, banking and public market.

Contact: LinkedIn  Twitter

 

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