Like the mainframe, enterprise resource planning software soldiers on, though companies complain about its inflexibility. Oracle just took a significant step toward softening that rigidity with its new Application Integration Architecture (AIA), announced by Oracle president Chuck Phillips at the company’s Collaborate ‘07 User Group Conference earlier this month.

AIA is a framework in which the functionality of Oracle’s vast application portfolio — Oracle E-Business, PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards — can be recombined and tailored to enterprise needs.

To jumpstart this, the company is creating Process Integration Packs (PIPs), which are pre-built workflows that embody horizontal or vertical sets of business processes. The first two, available now, integrate Siebel CRM with the Oracle E-Business Suite.

Oracle vice-president of development and strategy Jose Lazares described AIA as “an open standards-based platform that we expect to be leveraged by Oracle, our partners and our customers to deliver best practices and industry-specific, cross-application business processes.”

Drawing on the functionality of Oracle’s Fusion middleware, PIPs are “prepackaged and delivered as products that can be sustained and delivered over time.”

Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst at Burton Group, described Oracle’s AIA as “brilliant.” Oracle has “done a beautiful job of service-oriented design.” She noted that, with Oracle’s multiple acquisitions, AIA has solved a problem for many large firms: Creating arrays of interoperable services in a diverse application environment.

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