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).
The 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.
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.
Enriching 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.
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 ….
|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|
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.
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:
The book’s authors presented a brief session on the best practices at a packed Oracle Partner event. The following presentation – shows the material that was presented.
Some of these points are expressed in the book already, others are our Definitive Tips and Guides posts.
Good development practises such as configuration management and naming conventions have been a topic of conversation a number of times recently for us when it comes to ICS. In this post we will look at what configuration management means to ICS and the application of naming standards.
So why do we need configuration management with a tool such as ICS? The question depends on what stage of the software lifecycle you are, but a few reasons:
In ICS Definitive Guide #2 we looked at the scheduling of integrations and mentioned the possibility of using iCal. In this tip we shall explore advanced iCal facility for defining schedules within ICS.
The iCal format is probably best known for sharing meeting events in tools such as outlook. The format is actually a standard defined by the IETF originally in 1998 (https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2445.txt) and updated several times the latest being 2015 (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7529). The goal of the definition has been for the purpose of driving standardisation across PIM tools (Personal Information Management) tools which includes Outlook and Thunderbird etc. It is a substantial standard the original document ran to 150 pages, but the section supported by the schweduler’s advanced option purely relates to the reoccurence definition covered by section 4.3.10 of the original RFC, and only takes five pages. If you want to know lots about iCal and the varying revisions then you may find https://icalendar.org/ helpful.
It is worth mentioning that today ICS under the hood exploits Oracle’s Enterprise Scheduler Service (ESS). ESS documentation identifies that it works to the 2445 version of the specification (see here). ESS became a 1st class citizen component with the start of the 12c middleware product stack. As a result, if you see any errors processing an iCal configuration the error codes will reference ESS does.
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2 Minute Tech Tip
June 22, 2017
ICS Pricing – ICS Definitive Tip #9
June 12, 2017
Interfacing with HCM (or other file source) via FTP – ICS Definitive Tip #8
June 5, 2017
Custom functions to extend ICS transformations – ICS Definitive Guide #4
May 22, 2017
Connecting directly to DBaaS – ICS Definitive Tip #7
May 16, 2017
The website is dedicated to the book Implementing Oracle Integration Cloud Service written by Robert van Mölken and Phil Wilkins.
On this site you find supporting resources for the book as blog posts extending the book scenarios and useful resources for ICS.