By Padmanabhan A
The key driver for enterprise mobility is the need for seamless access to information anywhere, anytime and from any device. Combination of advanced technologies such as Oracle ADF Mobile (JSR 227 and J2ME) and an innovative approach helps enterprises build the optimal mobility solution.
Are your customer service agents able to access key customer, product and service request data, are they able to respond to last minute changes in plans? Is your executive management able to review key business indicators like financial trends, sales performance, customer satisfaction issues while on the move? Are you able to reduce the delay by capturing the transaction data at the point of use? We explore in this article how Oracle ADF Mobile platform can help us easily extend the existing application functionality faster and economically.
The scope of this article is to present an overview of mobile computing. It takes you through the issues which make mobility a prerequisite for business cusses and a solution in the form of Oracle ADF. The article provides a snapshot of Oracle ADF concepts, its functional and technical benefits.
We live in a rapid world. You may be working at your desk today but with a plan to attend a conference in a different part of the world tomorrow. Be it a senior executive on the road or a field technician meeting different customers in a day. The underlying need is that ‘your ability to access job related functions should not be suspended while you are away from your desk ’.
Today, we see many organizations leveraging a mobile enablement strategy which does not require employees to be present at their desks to continue with their work. Although emergent, there is a great deal of interest in Mobile business intelligence. Mobile dash boarding is today invariably the first choice within initiatives that organizations consider when enabling mobility for the organization.
A typical flexible manufacturing line at a fully automated hi-tech unit generates large volumes of data which requires “monitoring”. At the current stage of evolution the monitoring systems are all wired and data visualization is usually presented on desktops to the plant managers and executives. The challenge is to create mobile monitoring solution that can provide real time data with analytics “on the move”.
Similarly, we have several critical requirements in the Business Intelligence scenario that affects the day to day functioning of an organization. To mention a few - Availability of access to key business information such as financial trends, sales performance and more importantly customer satisfaction issues to a CIOs or executive managers when they are out on the road, snapshot of key customer data to a customer service agent on the move, approval access to a manager to ensure smooth workflow remotely. All of these affect organizational productivity significantly.
Enterprise mobility initiatives seek to leverage the emergent mobility landscape in making critical business applications’ data accessible ‘anytime, anywhere’ to enhance productivity, shorten response time, and increase customer satisfaction. From technology perspective, its goals signal a shift from ‘fragmented and disconnected technology landscape’ towards a ‘consolidated and converged’ mobile ecosystem.
There sure are several challenges in choosing the right mobility solution for an organization. Oracle ADF (Application Development Framework) provides a solution to these challenges with its simplified yet robust framework to extend the organization’s applications reach to their mobile devices in an easier and a cost effective way.
With Oracle ADF Mobile, the applications can be developed once and deployed to multiple devices. One single framework works for both mobile and regular applications. Another key feature of Oracle ADF Mobile is that the employees can now continue with their tasks in their applications even when they are not connected to network.
Let us take an example of an employee working for a dispatch or courier firm whose day to day work involves receiving digital signatures from the recipients after delivering the packages. The employee has to stay disconnected many times. With Oracle ADF Mobile, he can still continue to collect the signatures and push the data to the server next time when he gets connected.
What is Oracle ADF?
Oracle ADF is a mature J2EE development framework (Java2 Enterprise Edition) that helps in building enterprise applications. It is enabled by JDeveloper, which is the IDE from Oracle. The interesting fact is that Oracle ADF is extended to support Mobile Application Development too. Hence, existing business logic and services (ADF Business Components & ADF Task Flows) developed using ADF can easily be exposed to mobile devices as well.
Organizations develop robust and efficient applications to suit their business needs. During this process, developers tend to spend significant amount of time in writing the complex infrastructure code. Oracle ADF simplifies the development effort by providing a user friendly framework to develop code.
Oracle ADF uses Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. Fig 1 explains the layers of Oracle ADF.
ADF Mobile extends the development framework to mobile users. Developers can now create mobile applications that would aid mobile users to access critical business information from their devices.
There are two parts to Mobile ADF.
ADF Mobile Browser:
Oracle ADF supports connected Web applications running on the browser of the mobile device. Developers use Java Server Faces (JSF) components to create pages. ADF’s binding layers aids in easier interaction with their business services. This facilitates in providing rich mobile browser applications. It works with browsers supporting HTML/XHTML MP1 and WAP 2.0
ADF Mobile Client
Launched recently around Oracle Open World, This new feature can be used when the mobile users want to work in a disconnected mode. A subset of application would be running on the mobile device applying all the features of the application. It integrates with the mobile’s native menus and provides complete control over both the native menus and the application. Oracle Database Lite Mobile server which runs on the mobile devices provides application access even in disconnected mode. Once the mobile device is back to the connected mode, the Mobile Transaction Replay Service (MTRS) replays the client side transactions and commits to the server.
The two options of browser and mobile resident client increases the application usage as the employees can perform their work when they are not connected.
ADF Mobile Adaptability
This section covers the opportunities of Oracle ADF Mobile from business’ perspective. Some of the key opportunities are:
ü Oracle ADF is built on industry standards and can be run on any J2EE application server.
ü Oracle ADF facilitates Web 2.0 based applications.
ü Oracle ADF is free when an organization already owns Oracle Application Server (OAS).
ü Oracle ADF provides single framework for both browser and mobile applications.
Limitations of Oracle ADF Mobile
c Currently Oracle ADF Mobile Client is supported only for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. Current support for other platforms (such as Android, Symbian and iPhone) is provided through Oracle ADF Mobile browser.
c A subset of Trinidad components are supported on mobile devices. There are certain limitations in few Trinidad components.
c Only unbounded Task Flows are supported as page flows
Benefits with Scenarios
Consider the scenario of a health care organization which has Oracle Applications. They would like to enable specific application and workflow elements such as access to doctor’s appointments, patient records on Blackberry devices. In addition, they would like to manage demand and capacity on a real time basis by providing nurses with a mobile solution to request or provision/manage hospital resources such as Beds, MRI equipment etc.
In this scenario, since the applications and backend workflows are already built on J2EE; the Model and Controller layers for the required components are readily available and reusable. The mobile IT solution provider can easily construct the “View” layer using Oracle ADF Mobile and mobilize the entire solution.
Consider again, the operation of a Call Center, which does not have Oracle Enterprise Application but does have a custom J2EE application on OAS. They wanted to mobilize a manager tracking their MPI and efficiency.
In this scenario too, they can use Oracle ADF and quickly develop mobile server applications running on OAS accessing the enterprise data and provide real time manager dashboard to mobile users.
Challenges of mobility in industry
Although there is a huge demand for real time information availability and various technologies available for mobility, commercial enterprise applications lack the motivation to deliver mobile interfaces out of the box.
This is because the enterprise application developers cannot keep pace with the rapid development in mobile technologies.
Here is where the specialist mobility companies can analyze the customer’s requirement and architect a precisely customized solution to mobilize.
Extension of Oracle ADF to Mobile yields benefits to different user groups right from developers to end users. Combining the advanced architecture of Oracle ADF mobile with JDeveloper provides a perfect solution for many enterprise applications which need Mobility.
- Oracle ADF Mobile product page (www.oracle.com)
- Endeavour Software Technologies knowledge base.
About Endeavour – The Mobility Company TM
Endeavour is a specialist Mobility company since 2002. Endeavour has been providing strategic consulting and product development for Mobile enabling businesses in the Manufacturing, Media, Print, Healthcare, Consumer solutions, Telecom and Business Intelligence verticals. Endeavour develops mobile solutions on all mobile platforms in the market today, including, RIM, Apple, Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, micro Linux, Brew. Endeavour is based out of Austin, Texas, Bangalore India and London, UK. Please visit us at www.techendeavour.com