Oracle B2B is a module of SOA Suite that provides a secure and reliable exchange of messages between the customer and its external Trading Partners or suppliers. It handles this communication through what are called Trading Partner Agreements which dictate to a particular message where it is going and how it will get there. The B2B module does its job and does its job well but there are some pain points that surface when using Oracle B2B.
The majority of the pain points from using Oracle B2B stem from the fact that there is a significant amount of manual work to setup the meta data needed to process messages end to end. Let’s drill down to arguably the most specific entity contained in the B2B meta-data, the Trading Partner Agreement. The Trading Partner Agreement typically requires all of the following entities to already be defined:
- Initiating Trading Partner
- Responding Trading Partner
- Listening Channel on the responding partner
- Document definition in the administration tab
- Document linked to both the initiating and responding Trading Partners
- Any IDs to be used in the Agreement also need to be specified on the Trading Partners
It is entirely possible that some of this meta data can be reused for later Agreements but that is not always the case, thus leading to more and more setup for additional Agreements.
Compounded with the fact that Oracle customers often have multiple environments in which to maintain B2B repositories, the manual work can grow quite quickly. Oracle has provided some UI options for importing and exporting data but the tools have specific drawbacks; such as, limited options on export and import, no way to guarantee versioning, and no property replacement.
For those reasons, the manual approach is often preferred which leads to more development time and more human error when populating the configurations.
Enter FlexDeploy and our new B2B Plugin. The B2B Plugin was designed to alleviate the struggles, as described above, of maintaining multiple B2B environments. Some of the key features gained when using the new B2B Plugin include:
- Full use of all of FlexDeploy’s existing features, such as maintaining versioning via the artifact repository, simple to configure build and deploy workflows as well as numerous others which can be seen here.
- Property replacement for Agreements and Listening Channels to guarantee accurate and corresponding meta data when deployed to different environments.
- Several out of the box options to help customize a customer’s desired build and deploy approaches; such as, whether or not to activate Agreements and Listening Channels on deployment or whether to build and deploy at Trading Partner level or Agreement level.
This blog is the first part in a series to highlight the new B2B Plugin. In the coming weeks we are going to take a deeper look at the plugin operations, the use cases of each, and how to get the most bang for your buck when utilizing the B2B Plugin. Stay tuned.