Service Orientated Architecture is delivering efficiency improvements across a broad range of business processes says the University of Waikato.
Last year, the Oracle customer began a “several year journey” aiming to automate many processes and deliver better monitoring, redundancy and upgrades in a series of projects.
The Hamilton-based university uses Oracle for most of its corporate applications, citing Oracle's “resilience, performance and flexibility.” Using Oracle's SOA framework also helps with integration and reducing platform numbers.
The university's first SOA project was migrating purchase order creation, invoicing and receipting to an external procurement portal (UniMarket) using the Oracle SOA framework, Oracle's Enterprise Bus for connectivity, the BPEL Process Manager for modelling and WebLogic server Enterprise Edition, which implements the Java EE environment.
University of Waikato information systems group manager Milo Roth says using these three Oracle products marks the start of a comprehensive Enterprise Architecture strategy of which SOA is the core component.
SOA is being used not for its own sake, Roth says, but rather the “desired business outcomes” that result from SOA fostering a faster exchange of information between the university's many business systems that serve 2,000 academic and support staff, and 13,000 students.
“A deployed SOA-based architecture will provide a loosely-integrated suite of services that can be used within multiple business domains. SOA also generally provides a way for consumers of services, such as web-based applications, to be aware of available SOA-based services. SOA defines how to integrate widely disparate applications for a world that is web-based and uses multiple implementation platforms,” he explains.
Roth says SOA is not one project, but a methodology for every new application development, replacement or enhancement. The university has a long-term vision where all corporate systems will interconnect using the Oracle Service Bus and that new or improved business processes can be created or implemented on-the-fly by a skilled process designer without needing software development.
Since the UniMarket project, the university has used SOA on projects to cost its printer use and develop user-friendly interfaces between its student management and other systems.
To date, all SOA projects have been delivered on time and within budget, according to Roth, and have involved much less development effort, as well as motivating IT staff by the new technologies being used.
The next project is to integrate the student administration system and in October, an upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite 12 is expected to be completed.
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