Oracle B2B Overview

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by Alan Perlovsky Krishnaprem Bhatia Scott Haaland | September 2013 | Enterprise Articles Oracle

Built on top of the Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM), and being a tangible part of Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle B2B technology plays an important role by providing a single platform for the support of multiple B2B standards. For those who have never heard about SOA Suite, SOA Suite in a nutshell is a collection of components such as Human Task, Mediator, BPEL process manager, and so on, united by a combination of consistent tooling, a single deployment and management model, end-to-end security, and unified metadata management. It allows creating/managing web services, and orchestrates them into composite applications using Software Component Architecture (SCA). SOA Suite is the OFM component that enables the easy assembly of multiple technologies. Throughout the article, B2B integration with SOA Suite and OFM will be kept in perspective.

In this article by Krishnaprem Bhatia, Scott Haaland, and Alan Perlovsky the author of Getting Started with Oracle SOA B2B Integration: A Hands-On Tutorial. We will use this article to build the groundwork for the reader's continued journey into Oracle B2B. In the article, we will learn about the following:

  • System requirements to install Oracle B2B
  • How to install a virtual image with SOA Suite components on your machine
  • How Oracle B2B and SOA Suite leverage Service Component Architecture
  • Oracle B2B architecture

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

B2B environment setup

Here is the list of some OFM concepts that will be used in this article:

  • Domain: It is the basic administration unit that includes a special WebLogic Server instance called the Administration Server, and optionally one or many Java components.
  • Java component: It is a Java EE application deployed to an Oracle WebLogic Server domain as part of a domain template. For example, SOA Suite is a Java component.
  • Managed server: It is an additional WebLogic Server included in a domain, to host Java components such as SOA Suite.

We will use the UNIX operating system for our tutorials. The following table depicts the directory environment variables used throughout the article for configuring the Oracle SOA Suite deployment:

Name

Variable

What It Is

Example

Middleware home

MW_HOME

The top-level directory for all OFM products

 

WebLogic Server home

WL_HOME

Contains installed files necessary to host a WebLogic Server

$MW_HOME/wlserver_10.3

Oracle home

SOA_ORACLE_HOME

Oracle SOA Suite product directory

$MW_HOME/Oracle_SOA1

Oracle Common Home

ORACLE_COMMON_HOME

Contains the binary and library files required for the Oracle Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control and Java Required Files (JRF)

$MW_HOME/oracle_common

Domain home

SOA_DOMAIN_HOME

The absolute path of the source domain containing the SOA Suite Java component

$MW_HOME/user_projects/domains/SOADomain

Java home

JAVA_HOME

Specifies the location of JDK (must be 1.6.04 or higher) or JRockit

$MW_HOME/jdk160_29

Ant Home

ANT_HOME

Specifies the location of Ant archive location

$MW_HOME/org.apache.ant_1.7.1

The following figure depicts a snapshot of the SOA Suite directory's hierarchical structure:

For the recommended SOA Suite directory location, please refer to the OFM Enterprise Development guide for SOA Suite that can be found at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16764_01/core.1111/e12036/toc.htm.

JDeveloper installation tips

JDeveloper is a development tool that will be used in the article. It is a full service Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which allows for the development of SOA projects along with a host of other Oracle products, including Java. If it has not been installed yet, one may consider downloading and installing the VM VirtualBox (VBox) Image of the entire package of SOA Suite, B2B, and JDeveloper, provided by Oracle on the Oracle download site found at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/soasuite/learnmore/vmsoa-172279.html. All you need to do is to install Oracle VM VirtualBox, and import the SOA/BPM appliance. This is for evaluation and trial purposes, and is not recommended for production use; however, for the purpose of following, along with the tutorial in the article, it is perfect.

The following table shows minimum and recommended requirements for the VBox Image:

 

Minimum

Recommended

Memory (RAM)

4-6 GB

8 GB

Disk Space

25 GB

50 GB

While VM's are convenient, they do use quite a bit of disk space and memory. If you don't have a machine that meets the minimum requirements, it will be a challenge to try the exercises. The other alternative is to download the bits for the platform you are using from the Oracle download page, and install each software package, and configure them accordingly, including a JDK, a DB, WebLogic Server, SOA Suite, and JDeveloper, among other things you may need.

If you decide that you have enough system resources to run the VBox Image, here are some of the major steps that you need to perform to download and install it. Please follow the detailed instructions found in the Introduction and Readme file that can be downloaded from http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/soasuite/learnmore/soabpmvirtualboxreadme-1612068.pdf, in order to have the complete set of instructions.

  • Download the Introduction and Readme file, and review.
  • Enable hardware virtualization in your PC BIOS if necessary.
  • To download and install the VirtualBox software (engine that runs the virtual machine on your host machine), click on the link Download and install Oracle VM VirtualBox on the download page.
  • To download the 7 pieces of the ZIP file, click on each file download ending with 7z.00[1-7] on the download page.
  • To download the MD5 Checksum tool if you don't have one, click on the link Download MD5sums if you're on Windows to check your download worked okay on the download page.
  • Run the MD5 Checksum tool to verify the 7 downloaded files: md5sums oel5u5-64bit-soabpm-11gr1-ps5-2-0-M.7z.001.
  • Repeat for all 7 files. (This takes quite a while, but it is best to do it, so that you can verify that your download is complete and accurate.)
  • Compare the results of the program with the results in the download that ends with .mdsum. They should match exactly.
  • Extract the VBox Image from the .001 file using a Zip/Unzip tool.

    Use a ZIP tool such as 7-Zip (available as freeware for Windows), WinZip, or other to extract the .ova file from the 7 files into a single file on your platform. Using 7-Zip, if you extract from the first file; it will find the other 6 files and combine them all as it extracts.

  • Start VirtualBox and set preferences such as the location of the VBox Image on your disk (follow instructions in the readme file).
  • Import the new .ova file that was extracted from the ZIP file.
  • Check settings and adjust memory/CPU.
  • Start the appliance (VBox Image).
  • Login as oracle with password oracle (check Readme).
  • Choose the domain type dev_soa_osb.
  • Set up a shared folder, you can use to share files between your machine and the virtual machine, and restart the VM.

  • Once you are logged back in, start the admin server using the text based menu.
  • Once the server is started, you can start the graphical desktop using the text based menu.
  • Click on the jDeveloper Icon on the desktop of the VM to start jDeveloper. Choose Default Role when prompted for a role.

At the time of writing, the latest available version is 11g PS5 (11.1.1.1.6). The VBox Image comes with SOA Suite, Oracle 11g XE Database, and JDeveloper, pre-installed on a Linux Virtual Machine. Using the VirtualBox technology, you can run this Linux machine virtually on your laptop, desktop, or on a variety of other platforms. For the purpose of this article, you should choose the dev_soa_osb type of domain.

System requirements

Oracle B2B is installed as a part of the SOA Suite installation. The SOA Suite installation steps are well documented, and are beyond the scope of this article. If you have never installed Oracle SOA Suite 11g, check with the Installation Guide for Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Business Process Management Suite 11g. It can be downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) Documentation downloads page at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/doc.1111/e13925/toc.htm.

There are several important topics that did not have enough coverage in the SOA Suite Installation Guide. One of them is how to prepare the environment for the SOA/B2B installation. To begin, it is important to validate whether your environment meets the minimum requirements specified in the Oracle Fusion Middleware System Requirements and Specifications document. It can be downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) Documentation downloads page at http://docs.oracle.com/html/E18558_01/fusion_requirements.htm.

The spreadsheet provides very important SOA Suite installation recommendations, such as the minimum disk space information and memory requirements that could help the IT hardware team with its procurement planning process. For instance, the Oracle recommended hardware and system requirements for SOA Suite are:

  • Minimum Physical Memory required: 2 gigabytes
  • Minimum available Memory Required: 4 gigabytes
  • CPU: dual-core Pentium, 1.5 GHz or greater
  • Disk Space: 15 gigabytes or more

This document also has information about supported databases and database versions.

Another important document that has plenty of relevant information is Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.x) Certification Matrix. It can be downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) Documentation downloads page at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/downloads/fmw-11gr1certmatrix.xls.

It is indeed a treasure chest of information. This spreadsheet may save you from a lot of headache. The last thing someone wants to run into is the need to re-install, just because they did not properly read and /or missed some recommendations. Here are some important points from the spreadsheet you don't want to miss:

  • Hardware platform version's compatibility with a particular SOA Suite release
  • Supported JDK versions
  • Interoperability support for SOA Suite with WebLogic Server
  • Supported database versions

In conclusion, the following list includes a complete SOA Suite software stack (as used in the article):

  • Oracle WebLogic Server (10.1.3.6) (Required)
  • Repository Creation Utility (RCU) (11.1.1.6.0) (Required)
  • SOA Suite 11g (11.1.1.6.0) (Required)
  • JDeveloper (11.1.1.6.0) (Required)
  • JDeveloper Extension for SOA (Required)
  • Oracle B2B Document Editor release 7.05 (Optional)
  • Oracle Database 11g (Required)

Oracle B2B installation and post-installation configuration notes

There are several important installation and post-installation steps that may directly or indirectly impact the B2B component's behavior.

Creating a WebLogic domain is one of the most important SOA Suite 11g installation steps. The BEA engineers, who used to work with WebLogic prior to 11g, never before had to select SOA Suite components while creating a domain. This process is completely new for the Oracle engineers who are familiar only with prior releases of SOA Suite. There are several steps in this process that, if missed, might require a complete re-installation.

A common mistake that people make when creating a new domain is that they don't check the Enterprise Manager checkbox. As a result, Enterprise Manager is not available, meaning that neither instance monitoring and tracking, nor access to the B2B configuration properties is available. Make sure you do not make such a mistake by selecting the Oracle Enterprise Manager checkbox.

Oracle Enterprise Manager has been assigned a new name: Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control.

While planning SOA Suite deployment architecture, it is recommended to choose ahead of time between the following two WebLogic domain configurations:

  • Developers domain
  • Production domain

In the Developers domain configuration, SOA Suite is installed as part of the administration server, implying that a separate managed server will not be created. This configuration could be a good choice for a development server, or a personal laptop, or any environment where available memory is limited. One should always keep in mind that SOA Suite requires up to 4 gigabytes of available memory.

To set up the Developers domain, select the Oracle SOA Suite for developers checkbox on the Select Domain Source page, as shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle strongly recommends against using this configuration in a production environment by warning that it will not be supported; that is, Oracle Support won't be able to provide assistance for any issues that happen to occur in this environment.

Conversely, if the Oracle SOA Suite checkbox is selected, as shown in the following screenshot, a managed server will be created with a default name soa_server1. Creating a separate managed server (which is a WebLogic Java Virtual Machine) and deploying SOA Suite to this managed server, provides a more scalable configuration.

If SOA Suite for developers was installed, you need to perform the following steps to activate the B2B user interface:

  1. Login to the Oracle WebLogic Server Administration Console using the following URL:
    http :: //<localserver>:7001/console (note that 7001 is the default port unless a different port was chosen during the installation process).
  2. Provide the default administrator account (the WebLogic user, unless it was changed during the installation process).
  3. Select Deployments from the Domain Structure list.
  4. On the bottom-right side of the page, select b2bui from the Deployments list (as shown in the following screenshot).

  5. On the next page, click on the Targets tab.
  6. Select the Component checkbox to enable the Change Target button.
  7. Click on the Change Target button.

  8. Select the AdminServer checkbox and click on the Yes button.

  9. Click on the Activate Changes button.
  10. Click on the Deployments link in the WebLogic domain structure. The B2B user interface is activated.

If the SOA Suite production configuration was chosen, these steps are no longer necessary. However, you must first configure Node Manager. To do that, execute the setNMProps script and start Node Manager.

$ORACLE_COMMON_HOME/common/bin/setNMProps.sh
$MW_HOME/wlserver_n/server/bin/startNodeManager.sh

Oracle B2B web components

Oracle B2B Gateway is deployed as part of the Oracle SOA Service Infrastructure, or SOA-Infra. SOA Infrastructure is a Java EE compliant application running on Oracle WebLogic Server.

  • Java EE compliant application: It is a wrapper around web applications and Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) applications
  • Web Application: It usually represents the User Interface Layer, and includes Java Server pages (JSP), Servlets, HTML, and so on
  • Servlet: It is a a module of Java code that runs as a server-side application
  • Java Server Pages (JSP): It is a programming technology used to make dynamic web pages
  • WAR archive: It is an artifact for the web application deployment
  • Enterprise Java Beans: These are server-side domain objects that fit into a standard component-based architecture for building enterprise applications with Java
  • EJB application: It is a collection of Enterprise Java Beans

The following table shows a list of B2B web components installed as part of the SOA Infrastructure application. They include an enterprise application, several EJBs, a web application, and a web service. The B2B web application provides a link to the B2B Interface. The B2B MetadataWS Web Service provides Oracle SOA Service Infrastructure with access to the metadata repository. Stateless EJBs are used by the B2B Engine. This table might be helpful to understand how Oracle B2B integrates with Oracle SOA Suite. It could also be useful while developing B2B high availability architecture.

Name

Application Type

b2b

Web Application

b2bui

JEE Application

B2BInstanceMessageBean

EJB

B2BStarterBeanWLS

EJB

B2BUtilityBean

EJB

B2BMetadataWS

Web Service

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Introduction to the Oracle B2B e-commerce gateway

Oracle B2B User Guide describes Oracle B2B as an e-commerce gateway that enables the secure and reliable exchange of business documents between an enterprise and its trading partners. There are a wide variety of B2B scenarios that have to be captured and implemented. The concept of Business protocol will help us to identify the implementation guideline for building a reliable transport.

Business protocol

The Business protocol defines various aspects of the exchange, such as the Transport protocol, document standards, and security requirements. Business protocol can be deemed to typically include the following protocols and standards:

  • Document standard
  • Exchange protocol
  • Transport protocol
  • Process protocol
  • Packaging protocol
  • On-boarding services

Some B2B standards such as RosettaNet and ebXML, support all aspects of Business protocol, while others, such as EDIFACT, cover only document formats.

Document standard

Document standard defines the document type of the message payload. Some B2B document standards such as ebXML, explicitly identify the language standard in which the document is coded (XML, in this case). Some others, such as HIPAA X12, allow the user to choose between EDI and XML. The document standard defines what information is to be included in the overall structure of the document, what information is mandatory, and what information is optional.

A big source for confusion in the B2B space is the diversity of terminology among organizations. Some standards such as RosettaNet and others are trying to mitigate this by providing dictionaries such as RosettaNet Business Dictionary (RNBD). Nevertheless, there is still much left to be desired and a long way to go with respect to this.

Messaging protocol

The Messaging protocol defines the message exchange mechanism. It specifies the technical methods for exchanging information between partners, security mechanisms, and Transport protocols for the exchange. It defines the headers, acknowledgments, and packaging for the headers and payloads. The most popular ones are: AS2, ebMS, and RNIF. The selection of the document standard will most likely, directly impact the choice of technology. In some cases, the Messaging protocol is dictated by the selection of the document standard. For example, RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF) defines the encapsulation and transport mechanism for the messaging exchange.

It mandates the use of MIME/S-MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions and Secure MIME) for digital signature and authentication. In other cases, the document standard such as EDI X12, is network and protocol independent.

Transport protocol

The Transport protocol defines what type of transport the Messaging protocol uses. The commonly used Transport protocols include: HTTP over SSL (HTTP/s), FTP over SSH (FTP/s), and Secure FTP (FTP over SSL).

HTTP/s is the result of layering the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) on top of the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, and thus, adding the security capabilities of SSL to standard HTTP communications.

FTP/s is a protocol for transferring files using SSH to secure the commands and data that are being transferred between the trading partners.

Secure FTP is an extension to the commonly used FTP that adds support for the SSL cryptographic protocols.

Process Control protocol

The Process Control protocol used by RosettaNet, identifies collaboration and roles business partners play in the B2B exchange. It defines the basic rules or patterns of handling individual B2B messages. These rules are called Message Exchange Pattern (MEP).

The following are the most common MEPs:

  • Notification: It is a one-way MEP used for unsolicited transactions from one trading partner to another that does not require a corresponding initiating or responding transaction.
  • Request-Response: It is a two-way MEP, used when partner A sends a transaction to partner B, and partner B sends back an acknowledgement. In this case, the transaction has to be short running and delivered in near real time.

Packaging protocol

The Packaging protocol defines a packaging mechanism support implemented by the Messaging protocol. Message security, such as signing and encryption are often based on a specific packaging mechanism. For example, the RosettaNet RNIF 2.0 standard provides a specification for message packaging. RosettaNet Business Message packaging involves packaging the various business message components according to the S/MIME guidelines.

Putting it all together

The following figure depicts the Business protocol specific use case. In this example, trading partners are committed to use the EDI over SFTP Business protocol. This Business protocol describes what document format (for example, EDI X.12) and message pattern are being used, and how the document is transported and packaged.

Oracle B2B architecture

Oracle B2B provides business protocols, which bundle common message exchange options by delivering the following functionality:

  • Process incoming B2B document payloads received from remote trading partners
  • Transport of B2B document payloads to remote trading partner systems
  • Support of secure integrations through encryption, digital signatures, and non-repudiation
  • Support of industry-standard message-packaging protocols, such as Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), ebXML, and RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF)
  • Transparent, configuration-based translation between non-XML formats, such as EDI and positional, or delimiter-separated flat files and XML
  • Support of a single enterprise B2B information gateway, including auditing and reporting

By defining Oracle B2B as an e-commerce gateway, Oracle, intentionally or unintentionally tells that Oracle B2B supports only exchanging documents over the Internet. In reality, Oracle B2B provides support for non-Internet transmission mediums such as VANs as well. The next figure reflects it. It shows how Oracle B2B Technology integrates with both, remote trading partners and A2A applications. Oracle B2B supports multiple e-marketplaces such as Ford and Chrysler (not shown in the figure), VAN technology, and the Internet. Supported Messaging protocols include: MLLP, HIPAA over FTP, and X12 over AS2, just to name a few. Supported Packaging protocols include: XML Digital Signature, XML Encryption, and MIME/Secure, providing the message level security. Supported Transport protocols include: HTTP/S, SFTP (FTP over secure shell (ssh)), and Secure FTP (FTP over SSL), providing the transport level security. Supported document standards include EDI X12, EDIFACT, HL7, HIPAA, ebXML, and RosettaNet, among others. To get the full list, please refer to Oracle® Fusion Middleware User's Guide for Oracle B2B 11g Release. It can be downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) SOA Suite Documentation downloads page at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/user.1111/e10229/toc.htm.

Integration with A2A applications such as Oracle E-Business Suite is one of the most important characteristics of B2B Gateway. The next figure illustrates how Oracle B2B benefits from running together with SOA Suite on the same platform. It allows seamless integration with SOA Suite components such as BAM.

Oracle Business Activity Manager (BAM) provides a framework for creating dashboards that display real-time data inflow, and creating rules to send alerts under specified conditions.

B2B integration with BAM delivers inbound and outbound message monitoring, providing business users with a dashboard into B2B transaction performance. B2B integration with Oracle Enterprise Manager, delivers end-to-end transaction monitoring, providing B2B execution and performance information. The next figure also shows what makes Oracle B2B unique. It comes from an understanding of how OFM works. Skipping all of the marketing fanfare, what OFM really achieves is that it provides native integration with SOA Suite, Oracle Database, and Oracle Applications. As a result, it creates a complete middleware, database, and A2E applications (including Fusion Middleware Application Suite E-Bus Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and so on) stack. Seamless integration with enterprise applications is one of the most important features, since, A2E applications are often core to a B2B supply chain integration solution.

As shown in the next figure, Oracle B2B collaborates with Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack (FP) to build end-to-end B2B integration solutions. AIA FP simplifies cross-application business process integrations using a standards-based, pre-build integration solution. AIA plugs in into the SOA stack. It relies on the entire SOA infrastructure to provide its services. By offering integration with AIA, the following key benefits become available:

  • AIA decouples participating applications from the B2B integration layer
  • By building B2B functionality as a layer on top of Foundation Pack, the functionality is made available for reuse by multiple applications and business processes
  • Existing AIA Enterprise Business Objects (EBOs) such as Customer, Supplier, Item, Purchase Order, Shipment, Invoice, and Catalog Address maps to most of the commonly used B2B documents

Oracle AIA B2B solution provides infrastructure components that can be used to build end-to-end B2B flows using AIA and Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle B2B and Service Component Architecture (SCA)

In Oracle SOA Suite 11g, standalone products such as B2B, Oracle Web Services Manager (OWSM), BAM, Business Process Manager (BPM), Mediator, and others have been combined into a single suite, unified by running them all on a single WebLogic server platform. This only became possible after Oracle fully embraced Service Component Architecture (SCA), allowing integration of different systems by simply dragging a wire between them. But what is SCA? Created by a group of vendors, including BEA, IBM, Oracle, and SAP, SCA is now owned by OASIS. As shown in the following figure, the SCA specification abstracts business functions as components, and uses them as building blocks to assemble business solutions called composites. SCA components describe the interfaces that they expose for other components to call, shown by the green arrows on the left-hand side of the component boxes, and called services in SCA. A service is an entry point to a composite, which exposes a chain of one or more components. Components also describe the interfaces called references of other components that they expect to call, as the business logic executes. References, shown in blue on the right side of the components boxes, present an interface to call other component services or call external services. Components are connected by wires. The behavior of composites is controlled by composite properties.

To implement SCA, Oracle had to completely rethink its approach to the SOA Suite work product design, deployment, and execution. The new JDeveloper IDE now has a number of predefined components such as BPEL, B2B, Web services, and Adapters that can be dragged and dropped, and subsequently wired together into a composite application composite.xml, with SCA being a unifying framework. For developer's convenience, Oracle provided mediator, a tool that allows interconnecting components with different interfaces, and can provide intelligent routing to the correct references.

Oracle B2B is a SCA binding component. So what is a SCA binding component? SCA supports many communication protocols. In SCA terms, they are called bindings. Bindings encapsulate the complexities of communication protocols, and enable components to be implemented and wired together without a direct dependency on the communication protocols used. SOA Suite supports a number of bindings such as web service, B2B binding component, HTTP binding, and so on. SOA Suite binding components are responsible for establishing a connection between a SOA composite application and the external partners, or internal applications.

There are two types of binding components from the B2B prospective:

  • Services: They enable external partners to connect to the composite application via the B2B Gateway
  • References: They enable messages to be sent from the SOA composite application to external services such as E-Business Suite, and Siebel

As shown in the following figure, JDeveloper became a tool that enables a unified design time environment by supporting different technologies and tools within a single, customizable user interface. The composites can be created by dragging components from Component palette, and connecting them by wire. All SOA Suite 11g applications run entirely on Oracle WebLogic Server, presenting a unified runtime environment. SOA 11g Service Infrastructure is the fabric that is gluing all of the SOA Suite components together, providing the required services for the composites to run. It targets the individual components such as B2B, to their specific engine controlling thread and resource assignment. It also provides services to deploy and run composites.

How B2B leverages Oracle Fusion Middleware Metadata Service

With so many components now being part of SOA Suite, it has become necessary to manage all the metadata in an adequate way. The answer to this problem is to use the OFM Metadata Services (MDS) repository, a centralized store where the OFM components can be kept, managed, and accessed.

By publishing the MDS information to Oracle Enterprise Repository, you can make SOA Suite artifacts such as composites, WSDL files, and XML schemas, available to outside world. The tool used to populate Oracle Enterprise Repository is called the Harvester. The Harvester reads metadata from MDS, and automatically creates assets, populates asset metadata, and generates relationship links based on the information in the artifact files. For more information about Oracle Enterprise Repository and the Harvester, please refer to the Oracle Fusion Middleware Configuration Guide.

The following are several reasons that justify the use of a central metadata repository:

  • The metadata such as agreements has its own lifecycle, which means that different deployment states of the metadata exist, such as active, inactive, and retired. All of the states have to be managed, and changing from one state to another should not jeopardize the component's consistency or behavior.
  • The metadata has to be administered and managed. Among the commonly needed functionality are abilities for adding, updating, and deleting metadata. These services are much easier to provide if the resources are stored in a single place.
  • Typical examples of metadata used by Oracle Fusion Middleware components are: B2B document definitions, Web Service Definition Files (WSDL), SCA composites, and so on. These resources contain not only data definition such as xml schema files; but also trading partner agreements, composites, and trading partner identifiers, among others. Therefore, it is important to provide a secure access to this information.
  • The metadata repository has to be highly available to avoid becoming a single point of failure. The other requirement is performance to avoid it becoming a bottleneck. As a result, metadata has to be treated the same as functional data, meaning, that concepts such as clustering and load balancing have to be applied to metadata the same way that they apply to functional data.

A database is usually a central place to store the enterprise business data. The main reason for using databases to store data is that they provide easy management and access. The OFM philosophy is that the data needs to be shared between many components, and any changes to the data will have to be done at only a single point, thus, guaranteeing consistency. MDS made it possible to have the resources centralized in a single place. The following figure shows how Oracle Fusion components such as B2B, SCA, and Oracle Business Apps, among others, interact with MDS.

Oracle B2B interface quick tour

Oracle B2B 11g comes with the redesigned B2B user interface (or, as Oracle calls it, the B2B interface). It has a lot of new cool features for administrators, remote trading partners, developers, and business analysts.

The Oracle B2B user interface is a web application that is deployed as a standalone war file on the same managed server as the SOA Service Infrastructure. Oracle B2B UI application is stateful, and stores information in the HTTP Session.

The web application is stateful when the server makes sure that the same instance is being used for all requests from a given client. This also means that, while an instance is serving a client, the server should not use the same instance for other client requests. One important ramification of statefulness is that the server will maintain a separate instance for each client. Oracle B2B interface uses session beans to maintain state on behalf of a user.

Understanding of these principles is helpful.

The Partners page is the most frequently visited page (shown in the following figure). To navigate to this page, click on the Partner link from the menu on the right, and then click on the Profile tab.

To make the image more compact, the top menu was moved a bit lower, just to fit in.

The list of the registered partners including both remote partners and a host, can be found on the top left. The list of agreements for the selected remote partner can be found in the bottom-left corner. The list of partner identifiers can be found right under the Profile tab. Trading partner Identifier (or Type) provides the trading partner's identity. The green () sign is a common pattern for adding new information. Conversely, the x sign is a pattern for a delete operation. The User tab provides an interface to provision local and remote users. The Document tab provides an interface to assign a document guideline to a remote trading partner, and will identify whether this document is used for an inbound transaction, an outbound transaction, or for both. The Channels tab provides an interface to assign a delivery channel, the Messaging protocol, the Transport protocol, transport level parameters, and message level security to a trading partner. The Metrics and Reports menu options provide a provisionary access to business users.
The information that was saved is persisted to the design metadata repository.

 

The Administration menu option (as shown in the next screenshot) provides an interface for B2B administrators. This option deserves a little longer stop. The list of available options includes:

  • Import/Export: It can be used for migrating metadata between environments.
  • Document: It allows building of the document hierarchy starting from the document protocol and down to the document definition created in Document Editor.
  • Deploy: It allows deploying a newly created agreement.
  • Manage Deployments: It provides a tool to manage the state of the deployments (Active, Inactive, Retired, or Purged).
  • Types: It provides a list of all the created types (identifiers), and allows an addition of new types.
  • Batch: It provides capabilities to send a group of outbound EDI X12 and EDIFACT messages. As an example, one may want to send a batch of purchase orders.
  • Downtime: It allows the scheduling of a local B2B system downtime based on the remote partner inability to participate in B2B exchange.
  • Callouts: It provides a Java class to transform the formats of messages exchanged between the host and remote trading partners.
  • Mapsets: It allows the mapping of data between messages that are defined by different document definitions. As an example, one might need to transform HIPAA 4010 messages to HIPAA 5010.
  • Listening Channel: It creates a channel based on the Transport protocol, and assigns Transport protocol parameters. For example, one can create a channel to listen on an end point for inbound messages.
  • Configuration: It allows configuring the B2B system parameters.

The purpose of this introduction was to provide a quick tour without going into too much detail. There are still plenty of features that have not been mentioned. This gap will be bridged in the following article.

Summary

The B2B marketplace is rich with products from different vendors, so why should Oracle B2B be someone's choice? In making B2B a SOA Suite component, Oracle immediately promoted B2B to a bonafide status, equal to BPEL Process Manager, BAM, Mediator, and others. As part of SOA Suite, B2B now has access to the unified server-side runtime infrastructure and management capabilities of Oracle Enterprise Manager. It can also leverage the fabric infrastructure providing B2B with access to service infrastructure, policy management, business activity monitoring, identity-based security, and event-driven architecture. Being part of SOA Suite allows B2B to leverage SCA that fundamentally simplifies the entire application lifecycle from development through deployment and management. As proof that Oracle has serious B2B ambitions when this article was still in writing, Oracle released a SOA Suite for Healthcare, that delivers healthcare message standards support, a toolkit for rapid HIPAA 5010 upgrade and compliance, and dashboards and monitoring for the healthcare vertical. By providing the unified enterprise application infrastructure platform, Oracle immediately became a major player in the B2B healthcare space.

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About the Author :


Alan Perlovsky

Alan Perlovsky is a Senior Principal Consultant with Oracle's SOA/Fusion Middleware Practice and has been with Oracle for last five years where he is helping the Oracle Clients with the adoption of technologies such as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), B2B, and security. After starting his career as an Enterprise Application Development in the early nineties, and until now, he has been lucky to be involved in many exciting projects such as 24x7 EDI and XML transaction Clearinghouse, the world's biggest HIPAA implementation to date, and Global Combat Support Systems that introduces cutting edge enabling technology in support of the US Marines logistics operations, among others.

Krishnaprem Bhatia

Krishnaprem Bhatia has over twelve years of experience in the Software Development, Product Management, and IT industry. He started working with Oracle in 2001 and since then he has been working in various aspects of enterprise software integration including application, business process, and B2B integration. He has extensive software development experience, building world class integration solutions using Oracle technologies. As a Product Manager for Oracle B2B, he has worked extensively with customers and partners worldwide to develop unique B2B solutions, for solving integration challenges in nearly all industry verticals. Through dozens of workshops, he has interacted with and trained hundreds of integration experts on Oracle B2B across North America, Europe, and Asia. He loves to read, workout at the gym, and also has a passion for traveling as he has been to more than 26 countries. He holds a B.S. (with Highest Honors) in Computer Science and Engineering from UC Davis and an MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Scott Haaland

Scott Haaland has over 20 years experience in the Software Development and IT industry. He started working in 1992 for Hewlett Packard, and then for the spinoff company from HP called Agilent Technologies. After branching out on his own with two different businesses, including a Software Consulting business, he also picked up many business management skills along the way as well. Most recently, Scott has joined Oracle in 2012 as a Principal Product Manager for the SOA Suite team, with a special emphasis on Oracle B2B. While working for Hewlett Packard as a Developer for their EDI Services team, Scott gained expertise in many different B2B standards, such as EDI X.12, TRADACOMMS, EDIFACT, and EIAJ. With the advent of Message Oriented Middleware and then the transition into Service Oriented Architecture, Scott continued to gain important Integration Architecture skills while at Agilent Technologies, where he helped to develop a Canonical model based on the OAGIS 8.0 specification for internal application to application integration using TIBCO technologies. Scott learned SOA Suite while providing consulting services, and helped his clients with a transition to a Service Oriented Architecture approach for integration using Oracle SOA Suite 11g. As a Product Manager for Oracle SOA Suite, his expertise in EDI, A2A, SOA, and B2B have proven invaluable towards the writing of this book. Scott enjoys spending time with his family, working on home improvement projects, working on cars, and volunteering at his church and in his community.

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