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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Integration options for JD Edwards, is there one size fits all?

No there is not.

…  Should I end my post there, probably not…

I think that you should begin to consider a single solution for your integrations, as it’s going to become more and more popular.  If SaaS has anything to do with your digital journey – which it does, then you need to start considering orchestration.

Orchestration might not be the correct term, as it might be integration enablement – or at least a integration funnel.  What I mean here is that all systems have mechanisms for integration (JDE has heaps AIS, BSSV, UBE, XMLCallObject, COM…) this list goes on.  but they are a little proprietary by nature, in that yes – JDE will talk REST – but you have to form the document exactly as JD Edwards requires.  This is the same for web services, it takes some work.  Without an integration solution, this message transformation must happen at one end of the integration, i.e.

  • Modify JDE to take a generic “rest-ful” payload and then use logic in JDE to transform this into something that JDE can consume / produce and reply
  • Modify the other “point” system (as this would be point to point") to talk very specifically like JDE expects and have JDE reply natively…  Then interpret that native talk to your other point talk.

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In the instance above I’m going to modify JD Edwards.  I’ll write a basic screen with a large text box that someone can call and plonk in a JSON document.  My code will rip this up and act upon it and then write the results in another text box that the calling system can read.  So we’ve opened up JD Edwards to talk fairly generically but you must communication to JDE in a fairly standard format (you don’t need to know all of the controls etc in AIS).  Or if you don’t want to make any mods to the WMS, then you need to write a BSSV or some generic code to listen for the WMS message and then act upon this.

So above we can see that we are writing quite a bit of code in potentially two solutions to get an integration going…  You notice that if you had a bunch of skills in the WMS, you might make it do the heavy lifting and then light touch code in JDE

What if there is then another system.

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We do start to get complex.  We are trying to use JDE as the “funnel” and write the logic in JDE for all of the systems, but this is a lot of JD Edwards code that might not be too good at ripping apart XML and JSON.  This is where orchestration or integration comes into play.

What are your options?  Again, the gartner magic quadrant is going to help you create a shortlist:

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Jitterbit

Oracle

Dell Boomi

Mulesoft

Biztalk

… and more

I’ve applied some logic to this, as these are the solutions that I want to speak about

What are these going to allow you to do?

You are going to be able to do your integration intensive work in a platform / environment that is designed to integrate.  You’ll be able to point and click integration items, apply translations, speak native WS and JSON.  You will be able to do native flat file, read CSV and talk to databases using JDBC – nice!!  All this within your integration solution – nicer.

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This means that all of your logic for integrations is in one place.  All of your monitoring and maintenance is in one place.  Your integration SDLC should be more agile than your ERP SDLC, and this can also be managed in a single solution.  Are you ready to swap out any component in your enterprise – yes.

This is great, you are not modifying ERP code and WMS code, the integration suite it talking the default integration points from each solution and doing the mapping and coordination between the two systems.  You can keep the ERP, WMS and CRM standard and do the heavy lifting in integration.

So I do mention certain products, but I think that they’ll all get the job done.  Is one better than the other – probably at some things and not at others. 

As a client you need to decide on your price point and tech bias.  If you are a microsoft shop and want Azure only – biztalk in Azure is for you.

If you are an oracle shop then perhaps oracle’s integration cloud service is for you https://cloud.oracle.com/integration

I have a bunch of clients very happy using Jitterbit, which is a great solution for complex requirements.

What if you like to Develop?

My personal favorite is to use some generic “push|pull” cloud based solutions to solve this problem – why?  I have some amazing developers that can get this done easily.  I have the power of AWS and Lambda to communication securely and quickly and only pay for the instructions that I run.  I can have subscribers and queues that I can configure and own.  Infinitely extensible, highly available and disaster recoverable.  Sure, there is some dev – but I’m leaning on cloud based constructs that can span data availability zones and regions if necessary. 

I’m a little cloud agnostic, so I’d also look into the google pub/sub https://cloud.google.com/pubsub/docs/overview, which also has amazing extensibility and flexibility into what you can do and how you can do it.  Building a complete integration solution is NOT as hard as you may think.  If you take integration down to the lowest common denominator, pub/sub – push pull is all that you need.

What is the secret sauce?

Cloud…  You need to set up your integrations like it was SaaS.  Go through the learning and the pain now and reap the benefits when EVERY piece of software that your organisation uses is SaaS.  Establish your integration framework like is was “service” based – microservice if you like.  Then you can not only expose this to a integration, but also a mobile application and an active web page.  IF you are exposing a consistent end point, this can be modified behind the scenes without changing the interface to all of the external systems.

INTaaS

Of course!  I think that this is logic if you have a good partner (like fusion5) and you don’t really want to make all of the technical decisions.  You can just tell your service provider what needs to be connected and they do it.  They manage it, they maintain it.  Provide workflow and a single source of truth for integrations – this is a good model.  Allow you to get back to adding value to the decision making process knowing that the integrations are just working.

Bullet points to help you make your decision

  • cloud based integration solution
  • ensure you get monitoring and workflow if you want to own the solution and make all the technical decisions
  • ensure that your integration provider will give you this if you do not want to own it
  • everything will be SaaS / service eventually, get ready.
  • reuse your logic, think microservice
  • RTE is an awesome way to get information out of JDE into a queueing service…  Use it!
  • AIS is a must for lightweight integration into JD Edwards – it’s not just for mobile apps
  • Weigh up the cost of technical debt (writing ERP code / WMS code to support a integration) vs. using standard integration points and orchestration / integration solution…  You might find that the subscription costs are less than the technical debt you’ll incur quite quickly.

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