The Architect’s World – episode 29
The aim of this blog is different. Something new. Post the ESA workshops spree, a logical conclusion to a Solution Architect’s approach towards a business issue in providing the correct technical solution in tune with the larger picture that prevails in an organization. ORGA is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of digital cameras and CTVs, and employs more than 40,000 people with net sales of 4 Billion USD (2003) and a net profit of 1 Billion USD. Besides the operational companies, ORGA runs many global IT service companies; one of them is Orga EUR Ltd. The end objective of the newest initiative within Orga being the Web Applications Project, which is to create a Global pilot portal that will provide a hybrid Solution for content management of OrgA.com and a partial migration of OrgA Intranet.com for the EUR Group companies without retiring any of the applications that may have a potential to affect business and to be finally syndicated under one single portal for OrgA by facilitating the phasing out of third-party applications and migrating all businesses on SAP. All this with minimum disruption to the business. The scope for the same encompasses standardizing processes with Orga.com, which is the public website and Orga intranet.com, which is the employee website. The aim being to transform the same onto a single technology backbone with SAP, the objectives achieved of the same will be many. This initiative is being looked upon as a drive to centralize and drive IT initiatives towards Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) compliance and the deployment of standard business processes across Orga organizations.
The scope for the same encompasses standardizing processes with Orga.com, which is the public website and Orga intranet.com, which is the employee website. The aim being to transform the same onto a single technology backbone with SAP, the objectives achieved of the same will be many. This initiative is being looked upon as a drive to centralize and drive IT initiatives towards Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) compliance and the deployment of standard business processes across Orga organizations. The Solution that we propose to OrgA for the Web Applications project has long term objectives. Along with Knowledge Management and Collaboration functionality, OrgA is looking at deploying key business functionality through SAP Enterprise portal as a strategic initiative to consolidate and streamline business processes at a global level. With SAP R/3 as the backbone, this strategic initiative’s key objective is to set the ball rolling in unifying business processes and consolidation of all IT services using a Global delivery model. The execution of this project pivots on three key factors – Speed, Cost & Value to create the end result with the SAP NetWeaver platform to create an ESA roadmap. But the scope new gets extended with an external facing portal.
An approach to an ESA roadmap:
Orga is an SAP shop and our objective is to tie up all intermediate projects to lead Orga on the ESA roadmap as shown in this slide over the next 5 years. The current OrgA.com architecture entails the usage of Broad Vision/Interwoven on the Content Management and Workflow front on a Oracle 9.2 DB with Babelfish translation services/manual editing and translation process for the same. The pain points that exist in Orga.com today include poor speed & performance, lack of a unified single technology vendor and mediocre search capabilities. More so, the overall strategy is not aligned with the SAP Roadmap. These are areas of improvement which become the baseline for us to recommend a Solution which also needs to pick out the common threads with orga intranet.com for a linear and a common approach towards building a unified solution on a singular platform that aligns with SAP’s footprint within Orga that simplifies business processes around the public and employee portals in areas such as Content management, User management, overall architecture, and a scalable solution that aligns itself with SAP’s ESA roadmap with mySAPERP 200x. The Web templates for the display of content for visitors, which retrieves data from the database with an existing set of Web servers for URL redirection for different geographies and locales with Secured access for the Org.A Content managers and regular access for the visitors of Org.A.com.
The Solution that needs consideration for the above along with the key drivers for the public web site that includes multi-country/locale, generic guidelines as applicable within orga.com, on-the-fly content creation with workflow features and role based security to content, all based on the guidelines that need to be followed. Having evolved over a period of time, Orga.com is a monolith that has enmeshed countless intranets, a multitude of technologies and today suffers from issues ranging from usage, performance, content feed, and a lack of unified approach to future development. And that is all good when it comes to the standard thought process within an organization with an eye on the SAP NetWeaver initiatives.
An approach to Innovation with an xApp?
With a multitude of technology vendors contributing software that makes up Orgaintranet.com today ranging from IBM to Microsoft, this clearly stunts the strategic decision making process within Orga IT Groups towards a preference of vendors which is difficult to do away with. Coupled with market dynamics of today, the need for Orga in the future is to have the flexibility to be agnostic of technology and vendors to be able to focus on decisions which less IT driven and more from a business perspective. Clearly, this is an area that needs to be addressed by the Web Applications project to enable Org.A move towards the space of least IT governance and a focus on core-competence. Unless the best practices that will be built with the public website is extended to the employee portal, there is no value-add that Orga will get to see. The Solution that is being presented now in this blog for Orga is to ensure that such processes which can be reused in both scenarios will be built for Orga. A classic example that exists in such cases will be the extension of the Content management process that exists today in Orga.com which finds an extension in OrgaIntranet.com with minimal customization. The end objective being lowering TCO for Orga, the same needs to be made possible by the technological solution that will be built. With a vast array of vendors and technologies providing what can be made available from a single strategic vendor solution albeit with shortcomings, a key element of the Solution Architecture encompasses the current market dynamics in the Application vendor space. A Solution that takes into consideration the technological shifts that the market is undergoing today, the emergence of the long-term vendors in the market, coupled with the ability of the vendor’s ability to shape the space. Unless the solution considers these factors, it will fall short of providing a Business Solution” for Orga.
Kill BOB (or BOB will kill you):
The effectiveness or success of an employee portal is governed by its usage. Usage is an attribute that is governed by the effectiveness of the business processes that is built in and that any Org.A employee finds practical use with. Add to this the usability of an employee portal is governed by the ease of use that is rendered by a unified technological solution, not a mish-mash of state-of-the-art technologies. A case in point becomes the On-the-fly content publishing on the enterprise portal – a place for immediate comparison with Broadvision or interwoven. The end objective is to create a Global pilot portal that will enable key transactions from Sales, Procurement, Human Resources, Plant Maintenance along with a hybrid Solution for content management of orga.com and partial migration of intranet.orga.com for the European SAP instance without retiring any of the applications that may have a potential to affect business which will later on be rolled out to North America, LATAM, APAC and EMEA to be finally syndicated under one single portal for ORGA by facilitating the phasing out of third-party applications and migrating all businesses on SAP leading to centralized initiatives on ESA.
Twist in the tale – Enter xPro:
The above lays down the classic case for the SAP NetWeaver initiatives within an organization where the majority of implementations are happenning from an enterprise portal standpoint. But what really matters to Org.A – which has been a silent movement spearheaded by Shai Agassi claiming the death of “best-of-breed” applications. So, what if – Org.A, that has been relying heavily on a BOB spend Management suite, hiccupping towards a move to mySAP SRM solution starts to think radical with the advent of ESA and the SAP NetWeaver platform? What if – a web-based e-Procurement tool that is designed to facilitate, integrate and streamline the entire procurement process from consumer to supplier and back, built as an xAPP using the SAP NetWeaver platform designed to be a scalable e-procurement solution that will help companies replace best-of-breed applications aligned with the ESA roadmap? With a powerful intuitive workflow solution this xApp could provide Org.A with an alternative to do away with expensive best-of-breed applications and leveraging mySAP SRM components to lower TCO with the SAP NetWeaver platform, aligned with your ESA roadmap?
The odyssey for xPro begins:
I will now start the rip and replace approach of a BOB Spend Management solution to create an xApp in the coming blogs. Your thoughts are welcome.