Implementing Oracle Integration Cloud Service

Understanding Oracle's Integration Cloud Service and how to get the most out of your implementation

Come hear us talk at Oracle Open World 2017

The authors of this book will be speaking at Oracle Open World 2017.  Come here, and if you have a copy of the book, we’ll be happy to sign it for you.

 

Open World 2017 – ICS Sessions

As we like all things ICS here. We have teased out of the OOW17 Session Catalogue the ICS sessions for you to consider.

2 Minute Tech Tip

We have released a 2 minute tech tip through the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) which talks through the creation of a simple end to end integration using Oracle’s Integration Cloud Service (ICS).

 

ICS Pricing – ICS Definitive Tip #9

Cloud Costs

ICS pricing is based on two aspects – the number of connections and the number of messages processed.  But what constitutes a connection?  What happens if I exceed the number of messages or connections?

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Interfacing with HCM (or other file source) via FTP – ICS Definitive Tip #8

HCMThe techniques for integrating Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) and several other Oracle SaaS solutions can require the use of Oracle Transactional Business Analysis (OTBI). The need for OTBI comes down to the fact that to  access to the relevant data an API is not available. OTBI can be configured to generate a report and then transfer the report using FTP. When the report needs to be consumed by ICS then an obvious FTP location is needed. One such option to hold a file for ICS to retrieve is the FTP server provided with the SaaS services (details here).

However,  it has come to light that the original intent for this FTP service was for holding bulk data intended to be used for ‘priming’ your HCM instance. As a place for staging data for ICS is in the mid to long term it isn’t recommended. The roadmap for the SaaS product team may result in removing the FTP server.

FTP Data Staging

So the question begs, where should we put the data coming out of OTBI to be consumed elsewhere? Well the next option would be to use Oracle’s Managed File Transfer (MFT). Although historically listed with SOA Cloud Service (SOA CS), it is independently priced and has  become a 1st class citizen of the PaaS family more recently. For MFT to be an option it needs to include an FTP server which it does. But MFT also has the abilities for doing a number of orchestration processes, such as calling web services when files are ready. Meaning no need for downstream processes to have to pole for available files.

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Custom functions to extend ICS transformations – ICS Definitive Guide #4

In the second release of 2017 (17.2.5) ICS will introduce the capability of importing and using custom functions. These functions are created using JavaScript and can be used in transformations, expressions and as a action in Orchestrations. In this definitive guide we will go through all ins and outs of this new capability. 

Custom functions – a new pillar of ICS

In our book we talked about the pillars of ICS; Connections, Integrations, Lookups, Agents, Adapters and Packages. This release introduced Libraries. A library is a set of Javascript functions. Keep in mind that the JavaScript functions are running server-side so some browser/client-side capabilities/APIs are not available. Functions can’t be created within ICS, but can be uploaded as part of a library in both JS and JAR file (collection of JS files) formats.

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Connecting directly to DBaaS – ICS Definitive Tip #7

DBaaSEnriching an integration from data in a database or DBaaS (Database as a Service) is not an unusual requirement. Many integration use cases today need to access a database that is on-premises. The means to connect to the database is fairly obvious – the connection agent. Our book goes into a lot more detail as to why that is, and the implications of using database connections.

However when it comes to Oracle’s DBaaS a service it would be very easy to assume that given that you’re using two different parts of Oracle’s PaaS that it would be straight forward to connect the two together without an agent. However, at least today whether its on-premises or DBaaS you need to use a connection agent. This does mean that you’ll need an IaaS node to host the connection agent.

This quirk is driven by the fact that there are some scenarios that this does actually make sense. For example – the Oracle domains need to have a high level of isolation, so when the DBaaS is in another domain then the decoupling via the agent makes sense. When your database is in a different zone of the cloud – then you’re running DB calls across what is effectively a wide are network – not good.

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Conditional Mapping – ICS Definitive Tip #6

The question of conditional mapping comes up regularly on the ICS part of community.oracle.com which prompted us to write this blog. So if you want the output of an integration in element X to contain value from element A or B depending upon element C there are a number of answers, each having pros and cons. So let’s look at them before we offer an example of how we would solve the simpler more common problem.. Your choices are ….

  • Use the power of XSLT within the mapping,
  • Use the conditional option Within a Basic Map Data or an Orchestration pattern,
  • Use a custom piece of JavaScript
XLST Condition in the flow Custom Javascript
Single path through the integration Simpler to read and see visually Can be used either in the condition oer the mapping. Easier to apply than XSLT directly.
ICS doesnt make it the easiest to write this, but reading is fairly easy Easy to visually understand, but means more maintenance effort Easy to incorporate, but makes the development process multistep

We have talked about the condition/filtering in the book, and we will tackle the use of JavaScript in its own Definitive Guide, so let’s look at the XSL mapping option, and probably the route that will cover most cases. In many respects this is nothing to do with ICS, and is all about the use of XSLT so you may find it helpful to have an XSLT reference to hand. To this end the following maybe useful:

  • W3C – perhaps not the easiest to read, but definitely definitive,
  • XMLSchool far more readable but keeps things simple, and focuses on XSLT to create (X)HTML content

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Differentiating the ICS Agent Types – Definitive Tip #5

In our book we talked about the difference between the agents offered by ICS, namely the Connection  and Execution agents. Whilst we differentiated the two, we did focus on the connection agent as this is the type we expect to see used in most cases. However the execution agent still suffers from a level of confusion, and it has been helped by being called  ‘ICS on-premises’.

As part of a number of recent conversations the questions and confusion of what the execution agent is and how it works has come up. There is the well known saying ‘a picture is as good as a 1000 words’ which prompted us to develop the diagram below as a power point slide – in its power point form much of the detail is used as an animated build up.

ICS Agent Comparison

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Selecting which iPaaS Product(s) to use – ICS Definitive Tip #4

In the last few years Oracle’s iPaaS offerings have progressed significantly from one or two solutions such as Mobile Cloud Service to in excess of 35 offerings. This makes it challenging to decide which product(s) to use. The means for selection depends upon a range of factors including:

  • Most suitable licensing model (ICS provides a lower cost of entry than SOA CS as you’re paying by message volumes)
  • Development skills and desire to resilience or invest in people (SOA on-premises to SOA CS is easier than a technology change such as ICS)
  • The amount of control you have in an environment – JCS offers more control than ACCS for example

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