EMEA Trip Recap

So I have made it back to Redmond after a long journey and I wanted to write a recap of the event. In this post will will share some of the questions asked by the audience that may be of interest to you.

For those that are not familiar with the OBA EMEA Road Show, it is a series of pilot Microsoft events that bring together System Integrators, ISV’s and customers of all industries. With the help of the EMEA Architect Evangelists the destinations included: UK, Finland, Ireland, and Spain.

The working OBA scenario that was used throughout the presentations was the recently released Loan Origination OBA. The last session went through a demo and deep dive of that architecture.

Below are the abstracts for each session. For those who attended the even you should be able to get a hold of the decks.

Understand how your processes can become People-Ready and bridge your line of business applications to superior Office user experiences. See how Office can be a key component in your SOA and more importantly leverage the fundamental shift to combining software with services.

 

Learn about the architectural elements of the Office Technical Platform. Discover how these elements can be applied for Contextual Document Management, On-Demand Business Intelligence, Ad-Hoc People Collaboration and Visible Business Processes. Reinforce your understanding through architectural case studies.

 

 

This session goes into a deep dive into the tiers of an OBA application architecture.
– Presentation Layer
– Applications Services Layer
– Additional Services

 

Learn about the reference application packs for Loan Origination and Supply Chain Management Scenarios.

 

 

Miscellaneous Pictures

The last event in the tour was held in Helsinki. Pasi Mäkinen (picture 1) did the keynote for us in the local language and addressing the local concerns in his keynote. Mike Walker (picture 2) presented the rest of the sessions in Helsinki.

Q & A

Below are a few questions that I received at the conference that I have not covered on my blog as of yet. These may or may not be of interest to you. 

Question: Can you build custom code or reference external components within InfoPath?

Answer: Yes, the code behind features of InfoPath allow you to interact with Web Services, Namespaces or COM components. These are just a few of the things you can do, there is much more. If you dig into the OBA RAP for Loan Origination Systems you will find that there is some code behind in InfoPath that calls a Web Service for retrieval of information that is governed by a enterprise service bus. 

Below is a code sample to show you how to use the System.Web.Mail namespace to e-mail from InfoPath.

using System.Web;
using System.Web.Mail;

[InfoPathEventHandler(MatchPath="CTRL1_1", EventType=InfoPathEventType.OnClick)]
public void CTRL1_1_OnClick(DocActionEvent e)
{

MailMessage MailMsg = new MailMessage();
MailMsg.Body = "This is a test message and currently logged in user is " + System.Environment.UserName;
MailMsg.From = "Jim_Smith@hotmail.com"
MailMsg.To = "Sally_Grey@hotmail.com"
MailMsg.Subject = "System Generated Message"

SmtpMail.SmtpServer = "smtp.yourdomain.com"
SmtpMail.Send(MailMsg);

 

 

Question: When talking about OBA why is there so much talk about SharePoint?

Answer: This is a very good question. We talk a lot about the clients and it difficult to see what is behind the covers. The reason why Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 is talked about so much is because that’s what enables OBA clients. Without the enterprise services of MOSS the Office Clients would not have the rich LOB integration nor the other services provided such as security, BI, collaboration, etc.

 

Question: What is LOBi and how is it different than OBA? When is it available?

Answer: LOBi, which stands for Line of Business Integration complements Office Business Applications. LOBi was formerly known as IBF (Information Bridge Framework). The differences between OBA and LOBi are that OBA offers a wide range of services such as: workflow; search; the Business Data Catalog; a new, extensible user interface; Microsoft Office Open XML Formats; and the Web Site and Security Framework. LOBi on the other hand adds it’s integration capabilities to the over arching OBA development model.

LOBi enables deep structured process integration with Office client applications, the ability for people to update transactional applications from within Microsoft Office, and the ability to more securely take structured business processes and data offline.

LOBi will be available in Office 14. For an update look at the OBA Team Blog LOBi Update:

http://blogs.msdn.com/oba/archive/2007/02/27/update-on-lobi-services-and-ibf.aspx

 

Question: Is Duet an OBA?

Answer: Yes, it is important to note that Duet does not leverage the MOSS platform nor does it align with the future direction of OBA. The next version of Duet will be more in line with the OBA strategy.

New Insurance Solutions Framework

There is a bit of movement here at Microsoft in the Financial Services space. In the insurance industry we just released the Insurance Value Chain.  Before that launch I was working on interoperability scenarios with the ACORD standard and what that looks like in the WS-* world.

Now I’m happy to let you know we have more solutions for insurance companies out there. Based on the OBA RAP for Loan Origination concepts we have developed a set of solutions for the New Business Origination processes. The banking loan origination processes are very similar to the insurance new business processes, from an architecture perspective it makes sense to address this space with a similar architecture.

As shown above the Insurance Solution Framework (ISF) is built in a similar fashion as the OR-LOS solution providing the entire architecture picture. This architecture also fits in nicely with the Insurance Value Chain if you would like to plug in Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) applications within the architecture.

The ISF supports the following Lines of Business (LOB):

  • Life and Annuities
  • Property and Casualty
  • Life Care

The ISF abstracts the complexity of the underlying/backend systems, the unique OBA architectural approach and the framework enable businesses, overtime, to move from an application centric paradigm to a business process centric paradigm. Because the services, activities and process templates are built on ACORD a wide/broad range of backend systems can be surrounded/encapsulated to simplify the “topology” of applications. In cases where there are gaps in/between backend systems, the framework also provides a good design for building full-featured service.

This approach provides a viable alternative to rip-and-replace strategy typically required (due to additional capabilities required in backend systems like BAM, workflow, etc) to move to a business process centric paradigm. It leverages existing systems thus greatly reducing the risk associated core system replacement.

Not only is the architecture fully defined but it is also well documented. Implemented in a similar style as many of our SDK’s ISF provides an enormous amount of definition around the architecture as well.

As all of you know the insurance business process is extremely complex and varies depending on which insurance carrier your at. The ISF is more of a solution accelerator or a reference architecture rather than a line of business solution. Keep that in mind we you investigate these solutions.

If you would like more information on the Insurance Solutions Framework contact Microsoft Consulting Services. I will work with MCS to possibly write some whitepapers that will give you more guidance into our thoughts in the insurance space.