Oracle has announced some exciting changes coming to the EPM Cloud in the July to August time frame. If you are headed to Kscope 17 in San Antonio, Texas, be sure to attend the Sunday Symposium to catch Oracle’s live demo of cross-pod integration.
What Is Cross-Pod Integration?
When I use the term “pod,” I am referring to a single instance of an EPM Cloud service. This could be your PBCS development instance or your FCCS production instance. Each pod has a unique URL following this scheme:
Thus, “crossing pods” means traversing these URLs.
In addition, when I use the term “integration” in this context, I am referring to User Interface integration, not Data integration. Data integration is still the purview of the Data Management feature of the EPM Cloud, and you will use that tool to physically transfer data across pods.
New Feature: Connections
The new Connections feature will allow seamless navigation across EPM Cloud instances to streamline the user experience, business process, and workflows.
A new card named Connections will be added to the Tools cluster. By clicking the icon, Administrators can define connections from one cloud instance to another. Once the configuration is complete, administrators can browse the library of artifacts residing on that instance.
From there, administrators can pick and choose what should be displayed in the source instance. Expected use cases are:
- Embed a card from one service in a cluster in another service
- Embed a cluster (with all cards) on the homepage of another service
- Mashup and combine reporting objects (forms, reports, dashboards, etc.) from two or more services
In the initial release, only four EPM Cloud services will support creating connections: PBCS, EPBCS, FCCS, and TRCS. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to these as the “source” systems. There are plans to expand the Connections feature to all EPM Cloud products in the near future.
Each connection can be pointed at any “target” EPM Cloud instance: PBCS, EPBCS, FCCS, TRCS, ARCS, and PCMCS.
To create a connection, administrators must provide a name and credentials:
- User-defined name (CorpPlan, FCCS-PROD, MyRecon, etc.)
- An optional description
- Userid with service administrator privileges on the “target”
A connection is simply a reference that enables end-users to traverse across pods. Role and data-level security will be applied for the end-user, as if they had signed into the target instance directly. The end-user must have appropriate rights on the target cloud service.
For a seamless experience, MSAD or LDAP authentication must be configured on both source and target, and the end-user must be authenticated on the same domain. If domains are different, the user will have to login to the target instance. Alternatively, third-party identity management software could be used to bridge the gap.
Connection service passwords must be updated manually upon expiration every three months. There are plans to address this minor inconvenience in the following release.
Oracle plans to expand cross-pod integration to other services. In order of priority, they want to enable connections to ERP Cloud, Hyperion on-premise applications, and other cloud services such as Business Intelligence Cloud Service (BICS) and Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC).
It is not clear yet whether these other services will support creating a connection; but certainly, the EPM Cloud Product Management team wants to support them as a “target.”
Customers investing in hybrid or full-cloud EPM strategies will want to consider carefully how to deploy cross-pod integration and allow time for full-lifecycle testing.
A proven approach is to think in terms of the “user journey.” The end-user may need to interact with the system in different ways, at different times. Or they may have a variety of roles, all to be performed in a single session. You may want one or several custom navigation flows to handle special cases.
Good navigation flows should simplify the close and planning process, and you want to anticipate reorganizations and reassignments when designing any business process. You should also factor in time for security testing and potential licensing constraints, as well.
Cross-pod integration offers the opportunity to design workflows that strike the right balance between ease-of-use and technical effort. Customers will want to explore these features as soon they come out and take the next step towards an integrated Oracle cloud.