Siebel IP17 – Statement of Direction

ip17sod

It has been released, the yearly ‘Statement of Direction’ – for many regarded as a ‘State of the Union’ for Siebel – for the release to come. That will obviously be Innovation Pack 2017, to see the daylight around April/May next year. John Bedford posted on Oracle OpenUI blog last week about it.

The full details can be found per usual on Oracle Support:

Innovation Pack 2017 (17.0) for Siebel CRM Statement of Direction / Planned Features (Doc ID 2179185.1)

For sure, Innovation Pack 2017 first and foremost is focused on Siebel Composer, Siebel Composer and again Siebel Composer. The one and most import design theme, at the roots of Siebel as we have known it over the past two decades. IP15 and IP16 have presented ‘developer previews’ and after two years in infancy, innovating and maturing – it will be the real deal in Innovation Pack 2017. And no, Siebel Tools will not cease to exist – and a lot of activities will still be managed through Siebel Tools. Scripting, Workflow, Incremental Repository Merge, … it will remain in Tools. Don’t be fooled.

The Workspaces – no-more-local-database – introduced with Innovation Pack 2016 will become default. And for that Workspaces will be enhanced to allow for full multi-level branching, to support parallel, multi-release development. I say will allow because it certainly will require very strong governance, not getting lost at the same time. Governance and overseeing ongoing developments will become even more important than it’s today. So: Lead Solution Architect: be prepared!

Composer and Workspaces lay out the foundation for agile development with Siebel better than ever before. But agile development also requires (regression) test automation, ideally on a daily basis. It has always been the Achilles’ heel and never an easy task, relying on 3rd party software such as Oracle’s Application Test Suite. Since a couple of years Oracle has been using internally a Selenium-based solution for regression testing of all OpenUI applications using a Keyword-driven framework build around Selenium. This has matured and it’s good to see it surface in the Statement of Direction. It will create only a loose dependency with Selenium, where all test scripts/suites and executions are managed and stored in the Siebel database.

And yes, Siebel becomes elastic where finally one would be able to dynamically provision a new Siebel Server in an up-and-running Siebel enterprise at zero-downtime. Though this feature is reserved for customers deploying on Oracle’s Public Cloud infrastructure.

To close off, Siebel REST API will be enhanced to support Swagger for service description. As well, REST API will be more dynamic in terms of ability to describe on the request the needed output (e.g. child entities and fields required). Great!

– Jeroen

PS: This might become my final post on the Oracle Implementation Advisor Blog…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Siebel Innovation Pack 2016 – Statement of Direction Has Arrived!

Oracle has been delivering Siebel Innovation Packs at a steady pace over the past years. At the same pace future directions are being published. Today a milestone date, July 27th. Statement of Direction for Innovation Pack 2016 has arrived at My Oracle Support!

IP16SOD

What are the key ingredients to make Innovation Pack the perfect meal?

Before that, remember that this information is intended to outline the general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

The Statement of Direction is written around three themes:

  1. Business Agility
  2. Customer Experience
  3. Industry Innovation

Business Agility

Next Generation Installer

With Siebel 8.1.1.8 we saw the introduction of the Oracle Universal Installer for Siebel. The Oracle Universal Installer – which shares its TLA with another favorite feature of Siebel – has with the arrival of Siebel Innovation Pack 2015 Patchset 1 replaced the oPatch installer for patch sets. I personally always found it a bit awkward having to install a patch with such a low-level tool as oPatch. Anyways, OUI is Oracle’s default tool for software installation across platforms, and is a product on its own. With IP16 an improved OUI release will ship with Siebel. It should make life again a bit easier on different fronts such as silent installation, consistency checks after installation, rollbacks scenarios and such.

WebSocket-based framework

Well, this is a truly important feature! As you should be aware by now, the NPAPI (Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface) will be history soon. Google will for Chrome sunset the NPAPI in September 2015 already. Mozilla will not wait much longer. The default browser for Windows 10 was never developed to support NPAPI support. And maybe after the hack of this century, things will further accelerate…

Why is this NPAPI so important? Well – it has been the vehicle for Java applets which are used here and there in Siebel. For example inline-editing relies on Java and so does CTI hotelling. With IP16 a WebSocket-based integration framework will be released to close this gap under the name Desktop Integration Siebel Agent (DISA). Websocket has been designed to allow low-latency communications between a browser and server instead of the traditional chatty http protocol. Typically you’d interact with a server, but DISA will actually be a WebSocket server application, implemented as a local application running at the desktop.

It will enable a number of features, to name some…

  1. Outlook Drag n Drop (yeah!)
  2. Inline attachment editing (yeah!)
  3. Read & Write files on the local machine (wow! but… is that not a huge vulnerability…?)
  4. CTI Hotelling
  5. Email integration (F9 – Send Email) with external mail agents such as Outlook and Lotus Notes

For now, let’s assume that DISA will be an open and documented framework for customers to leverage too πŸ˜‰

Siebel Application Usage Pattern Capture

The SOD states “This feature provides more tools to the IT department to track and analyze the usage patterns of their production systems“. Hey, you might say. That feature has been in Siebel for ages, although since Siebel 8.1 it has not been documented anymore (hence, de-supported). It has been know as Siebel Usage Collection. But then, Usage Collection was just not more that collecting view navigations, and writing it to a file. Nothing special about that at all. You’d customize it yourself in less than a day (and probable more feature-rich). Well, that is what I’ve done in the past to gather usage statistics, fed to a data warehouse to get extremely useful insights such as what are the patterns my most efficient call center reps exhibit?

Still, my strong belief is that for true usage collection one should evaluate Real User Experience Insight. Given, not a free tool. But it provides amazing capabilities. Non-intrusive, allowing for session-replay to support help desk staff and much, much more.

Siebel Composer Developer Preview

Apparently, Innovation Pack 2016 is an Innovation Pack too early. Siebel Composer is still titled as preview. Understandably, the move from Siebel Tools to Siebel Composer is a huge undertaking, which cannot be taken lightly. One of the enhancements for the Innovation Pack 2016 release of the Siebel Composer says it all:

Ease of configuration via a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) visual interface, which is eventually expected to completely replace Siebel Tools

But then, looking at the list of features for CRM Composer, it moves towards enterprise-ready. Important aspects (and probable a real improvement from today’s parallel development capabilities provided by Siebel Tools Object Tagging):

Multi-user development model for Siebel CRM metadata, with support for collaborative and parallel development. Changes are maintained on a user-by-user basis, ensuring that users can make simultaneous configuration changes to the application even if they are modifying the same set of metadata objects.

And since with Siebel Composer we no longer work with the traditional Siebel Developer Web Client, the principle of sandboxing will be introduced so that developers can test their own changes in an isolated fashion. They might get their own Object Manager instance?

Standards-Based REST Interface

Another topic, where Oracle needed to provide an alternative after it de-supported the SAI (Siebel Application Integration) framework. Siebel will natively support REST API services. Isn’t that great? So building an application on top of Siebel will become far less complicated. In the API-economy of today, REST services provided by Siebel are an important step forward.

Unified Cache Manager

Ever heard of Coherence? It’s one of these other Oracle Technology flagship products. Very much a tech product. It’s reason for existence is offloading traffic to the application or database tier, if requests can be fulfilled from a coherent and consistent cache. What the exact use cases are for the Unified Cache Manager? Requires some more time to digest this subject and discuss it. One this is quite sure, Coherence will be optional and separately licensed.

But what will you “cache” in Coherence? A typical use-case would be support for type-ahead (auto-completion) of certain data. Think of accounts, addresses, products, …

Moving to the next theme…

Customer Experience

High Interactivity / Standard Interactivity De-Support

Nothing really new, but the fact that the Open UI client will be the remaining client Oracle will support for Siebel. HI, SI and SI+ will be de-supported. Whether they will be technically redrawn from the product is not said.

Expose Siebel Calendar as CalDAV Server

Yet another highly interesting topic. Oracle Siebel development has taken up the glove to make the Siebel Calendar behave from a functional perspective like any other calendering system. Be it Outlook, Lotus Notes, GMail, Thunderbird or what have you more. The Siebel calendar has never been very feature-rich. Limitations such as recurrence support (e.g. bi-weekly on a Thursday for 20 occurrences to come or until 1st of December 2015) and the ability to support accept/reject/tentative for invitees to name a few. You can safely call this a major overhaul of the Siebel calendar. But with the great benefit that at the same time: the Siebel Calendar can be exposed as a full CalDAV compliant server! That means that you can expose the Siebel Calendar in a another client-application, but it also opens the door for a standards-based synchronization between Siebel and Exchange, Notes or other Collaboration suites out there. As long as they support CalDAV too. Important improvement, if you ask me!

Siebel Mobile 2.0

The App stores will provide a 2.0 version of the Siebel Mobile application. SOD talks about an assisting tool to convert Siebel server-side side eScript to Siebel OUI API scripts for mobile offline use. Well, honestly I have no strong belief in such tools. But let’s first see, before judge.

What is important, is that Siebel Mobile will be available for the Android platform too, with the same functional footprint as the iOS app. Basically this means that the Mobile App, which really is nothing more than an Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF) container running Siebel against an Oracle SQLite database. The MAF has access to device-native features such as GPS and camera, as well as using the local file system on the device.

And, important too. Siebel Sales will be delivered too for offline use. Today, Disconnected Mobile supports only the Service and Pharma application. Technically the disconnected platform could support any application if you ask me. But disconnected mobile applications come standard with pre-seeded extraction filters, and offline process automation & device integration.

Siebel Remote

And this will be an eye-opener. Siebel Remote will continue to be available, regardless of what has been previously announced. Siebel Remote will use the Oracle Database XE instead of the traditional SQL Anywhere database. And as you might understand, this is a strategic choice for Oracle, since with the acquisition of Sybase by SAP in the past… Well… you understand who Oracle has to pay in order to allow use of SQL Anywhere πŸ˜‰

Simplified Search

First of all the Siebel Search will have an improved UI presentation with a dockable search applet, like we knew it in IP13. An other interesting feature would be “Autocomplete suggestions” (Google-style), which if you ask me would be supported under the hood by the Unified Coherence Caching feature… Also other search engines than Oracle’s Secure Enterprise Search will be allowed through an improved API. Or would the Unified Coherence Cache be the new search engine…?

I will close with the third and final topic of the SOD…

Industry Innovations

Which I will just list here…

  • Mobile Promotion Enhancements
  • In-Memory Promotion Upgrade UI
  • Accelerated Decision Making via Enhanced Productivity
  • Subject Transfer
  • Satellite Site
  • Enhancements Driven by Life Sciences Audit and Compliance
  • Product Offer Enhancements
  • Siebel Public Sector eService integration with Oracle Policy Automation (OPA)
  • Messaging Plan Personalization and Call Planning
  • Content follow-up for eDetailing
  • Application capture with OPA integration
  • Siebel CRM – OPA Integration Enhancements
  • Self-Service Scheduling
  • PDF / Excel Template Support for Siebel Business Intelligence Publisher Reports

Enjoy the further reading!

– Jeroen

Siebel IP15 – What will be in it for you?

Oracle published recently the Statement of Direction for Innovation Pack 2015.

Innovation Pack 2015 for Siebel CRM 8.1.1 and 8.2.2 Statement of Direction / Planned Features (Doc ID 1963908.1)

As with any Statement of Direction, well it is, a Statement of Direction and intended to outline Oracle’s general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only.

That said, I hear you thinking. Innovation Pack 2015, has Innovation Pack 2014 not been just released a few months ago? Yes, that is right. Definitely Oracle is keeping a very steady pace with regards to development and releases of Siebel. To what extent customers can follow this speed, that is another question of course.

Siebel CRM Composer

Maybe the most appealing item on the IP15 Road map might be the “Siebel CRM Composer”, which at Oracle Open Week 2014 got presented as “Run-time Configuration, No More SRF”. The “Siebel CRM Composer” has been labeled as “Developer Preview”, so not for production use.

So Siebel CRM Composer will…

  • …provide the ability to define business requirements visually in a user friendly way, allowing for a more creative and simplified deployment cycle for functional upgrades and providing an optimized user experience.
  • … allow for multiple instances of application functionality to be created and these can be edited, tested and placed into production via the web based administrative user interface with no downtime.
  • … be able to control the migration of metadata in the Siebel upgrade process, making it even easier.
  • … will obviate the need for proprietary web templates.
  • … will provide capabilities to improve performance for high latency web based use scenarios.

A lot of potential by the wording. But to what extent and depth remains a secret for now. Questions such as:

  • …how a concurrent development environment will be implemented using CRM Composer like we know today using check-in/check-out. Will a similar process remain, but simply by checking-out to the server database instead of a local database?
  • … what depth in terms of objects which are traditionally configured through Siebel Tools will subject to the CRM Composer?
  • … how will it support agile & parallel development be enabled? Similar to how ‘tagging’ and ‘touching’ objects is currently implemented in Tools since Innovation Pack 2012?

Certifications

Besides a number of new certified platforms, also a separate document has been published which makes it essentially easier to review than having to struggle with My Oracle Support’s Certify πŸ˜‰

Systems Requirements and Supported Platforms /Certifications for Siebel CRM (Doc ID 1499842.1)

Open UI Look & Feel

Some words about a new theme. Likely an extension of the Aurora theme which got delivered with Innovation Pack 2014. I dearly hope Oracle doesn’t keep changing the look & feel of Siebel as drastically as with the introduction of Aurora. Don’t understand me wrong, I like the simplicity of Aurora and IP14 delivered a far better UI & underlying theme for customers to serve as starting point to brand and customize to their own wishes. Plus it became to a certain extent responsive too. But for customers who have started their OpenUI journey prior to IP14, it can be considered for end-users a significant change, requiring change management. With IP14 Oracle discontinued and no longer ships the legacy themes from the past. That might be considered a potential challenge for customers moving away from IP13.

The new theme will be quite certainly along the lines of the Alta Theme, which John Bedford blogged about a while back.

Siebel Charts

Oracle will ship a JQuery charts framework, which by its definition is a client-side plugin. Like there are different Open source as well as commercial alternatives. The interesting bit of course is how Oracle will integrate this within the OpenUI framework. A JScript based charting framework will take its data from data within the DOM. That means that working with larger sets of data can easily become costly in terms of resources, especially since all this data would need to flow through the business object layer, the SWSE with the added overhead. Thinking about that, this statement started to make me wonder:

“Ability to create charts powered by the Oracle 12c Database, providing the ability to aggregate complex chart data across millions of rows”

Will the charting solution be more that just delivering a JQuery charting framework? Maybe a special means of lean-and-mean(er) fetching data sets from the server? Interesting topic!

Industry specific innovations

And then there are a number of industry specific innovations to mention:

  • Pharma Mobile Disconnected enhancements
  • Consumer Goods Mobile – Disconnected Direct Store Delivery Mobility
  • Communications – Product Promotions Process Simplification
  • Public Sector – Responsive Web Design Portal enhancements
  • Clinical – Training Planning and Tracking