Welcome!

PHP Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Hovhannes Avoyan, Lori MacVittie, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: PHP, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Recurring Revenue, CRM

PHP: Article

Why SOA Is a Good Fit for CRM Solutions

Provides scalable architecture and modern toolsets

CRM SOA Primer
As mentioned earlier, the key elements of a SOA-based OM platform include a set of robust services exposed by the CRM application and other applications such as ERP and billing, a SOA platform for integration and orchestration in the middle-tier, and a robust composition framework that brings all these together in the UI tier. In this section, we examine the SOA capabilities of a CRM application.

CRM applications expose business services and workflows as Web services. Business services are functions that take input and return output while performing business logic (usually acting upon a set of CRM business objects). Workflows are similar to business processes and follow a sequential execution of steps. A step can be an invocation of a business service or input from the CRM event framework (such as an order create event, which can start a workflow), or an invocation of a CRM scripting service. Internal CRM business objects are typically not exposed as Web services, because interactions at that layer are too fine-grained and have a number of interdependencies. Working with business objects requires an understanding of the relationship between objects (for example, object opportunity is related to contact and activity, while contact is related to account, and account is related to product), rendering it unsuitable for SOA. As a result, a higher level of abstraction (business services) is preferred. Commonly, a Java API can access business objects (and for other interfaces). In addition to Web services and Java, most CRM systems support messaging interfaces such as the Java Message Service (JMS).

Using Web service interfaces, CRM applications also provide tools and wizards to help create bidirectional-process-based integrations (inbound to and outbound from CRM applications).

In an outbound integration, CRM invokes an external application such as BPEL. This is a common use case in which the order (after capture in CRM) is passed to back-end ERP for fulfillment, with BPEL as the middleware layer.

Since CRM invokes an external service endpoint, it must consume the external endpoint Web Services Description Language (WSDL). In this case, the endpoint is a BPEL process. As mentioned earlier, every BPEL process is a Web service, and capturing the WSDL is straightforward. Many CRM applications provide wizards that allow users to import external WSDLs and automatically generate the integration objects and Web service proxy that will be used to invoke BPEL.

The CRM developer then uses a CRM workflow to tie the data to be passed to the BPEL process. In this case, sending order information to ERP can be accomplished by placing a submit button on the customer-facing order UI, thereby kicking off a workflow when the button is pressed. The workflow uses an out-of-the-box CRM business service to extract the order information, then runs through a set of steps (including mapping from the CRM internal data model to integration objects), and finally invokes the Web service proxy that was generated when the BPEL-process WSDL was consumed. The proxy delivers the integration-object-based payload to BPEL, which then processes the order and runs the enterprise-wide, order management business process that integrates with the back-end ERP.

Inbound integration to CRM, such as external applications calling a CRM Web service, is simpler. The CRM admin console, which is a Web-based UI, provides mechanisms to expose business services and workflows as Web services. This generates a physical WSDL file that can be saved and consumed by external applications such as BPEL to invoke a CRM Web service. On the tooling side, CRM applications provide both desktop and browser-based tools to import and export WSDL, define input and output parameters, create schemas for exchanged objects, and autogenerate a number of artifacts required to tie the Web service calls to internal elements.

Figure 3 provides a list of order management services exposed by a CRM application, and Figure 4 shows these order management services inside a CRM admin console.

Each of these services is based on an internal business-service or a workflow implementation. Figure 4 exposes the details of ports and operations for order service within the order management component. Most CRM services have a common set of operations, such as insert, delete, query by ID, and query by example.

In summary, most CRM technology stacks provide capabilities for bidirectional Web services interactions. In addition, they support Web Services Security (WSS) and allow the invocations to be secured. Together, these present a formidable set of capabilities on which to build distributed service-enabled and process-centric solutions.

Implementing a SOA-Based Solution for Order Management
In this section, we investigate how best to integrate and orchestrate a robust set of CRM services using SOA infrastructure products such as BPEL and ESB.

A heterogeneous order management solution interacts across multiple applications. Figure 5 provides a component interaction view, which has been color-coded to indicate the application (CRM, ERP, or both) they reside in. A number of variations are possible, and Figure 5 highlights the complexity of interactions.

Customers can order via multiple channels, including Web, call center, and other devices. An order submission initiates a number of interactions between components, as indicated by the green lines. These interactions can be bidirectional, synchronous, and asynchronous, and can also be processed in real time or in batches. Order validation and policy enforcements require that the components are called in a specific sequence. The back-end service invocation sequence will vary based on actual user clicks from the UI. Key components that require integration and orchestration include pricing, catalog, configurator, customer data, product data, fulfillment, and invoicing, as well as the human operators who work with each of these systems.

Such a complex problem is best handled by a layered architecture. To capture multichannel customer interactions, a robust, Java-based application development framework is used in the user-interaction layer. BPEL is deployed to integrate people and processes, and ESB is put in place to provide granular Web services across diverse back-end applications. This converts application-proprietary APIs to Web services (using adapters) and aggregates low-level, fine-grained services into higher-level, coarse-grained services that can be consumed by business processes. The end goal is to create a layered architecture as shown in Figure 6.

More Stories By Nishit Rao

Nishit Rao is director of product management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. He is focusing on enhancing and evangelizing the middleware platform to meet the demanding needs of Oracle customers. He has more than 15 years experience in engineering and product management for messaging, Common Object Requesting Broker Architecture, J2EE, integration, and SOA products. He also has experience rolling out middleware solutions as an architect for a large global logistics company. He holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in electrical engineering.

More Stories By Murali Varmaraja

Murali Varmaraja is director of order management product strategy at Oracle. He has more than 15 years of experience in the information technology industry, including 8 years of enterprise product management. His experience spans a wide spectrum of technology, including Web, client/server, and multitier and distributed architectures involving Oracle and IBM DB2. He has experience with CRM business processes for the transportation, communications, media, energy, finance, high-tech, and manufacturing industries. He holds an MS degree in computer applications from Sadar Patel University in Gujarat, India, and is currently pursuing an MBA at the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...