The Future of Oracle Forms: 5 Paths to Modernization

Introduction

  • Upgrade to the latest version — Upgrade to Oracle Forms 12c, keeping your application certified and supported.
  • Lift and shift your Oracle Forms to the cloud — Enable applications to run on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and enjoy all the benefits that cloud provides.
  • Modernize the look and feel, user interface and user experiences available with your Oracle Forms. As discussed in the “pizza” example. Modernization will allow you to access your applications from mobile devices, digital assistants and even social channels.
  • Use hybrid applications — Maintain your Oracle Forms applications in maintenance mode for on premise, while all the next-generation development is on a new technology, specially designed for web, working on a common database or using REST services.
  • Migrate away from Forms — Of course, there is this fifth approach — the full system migration to a different technology. Although, migrating away from Oracle Forms has been an option seriously considered by many organizations, one should understand that there is no magic bullet. We have yet to see a tool that is able to migrate more than 60% of Oracle Forms logic automatically, so this approach requires a full rewrite and often restructuring of the application.

Option 1: Upgrading to Oracle Forms 12c

  • Ensured support — applications developed years ago on older versions are no longer supported by Oracle. All certifications for operating systems, new browsers and Java versions are done with Oracle Forms 12c (C/S de-supported 2004/10g Dec. 2011).
  • New features — upgrading Forms allows you to take advantage of crucial features such as SOA, JavaScript, Devopps and Cloud. Read more about others in this Oracle Forms blog post.
  • Monitoring, security & debugging functionality has been extended and improved in the newest releases.
  • Management & Performance — Node manager means that there is much less administration required, and the Forms themselves are at least twice as fast.
  • Go Browserless — Oracle Forms 12c comes with an ability to run Oracle Forms without a browser.
  • Limited number of Oracle Forms developers — With colleges these days focusing on newer technologies such as Java, Javascript and HTML, it can be a challenge to find Oracle Forms developers
  • Still locked to the desktop — Despite the many benefits of upgrading to a new Oracle Forms version, it does not get you completely off the desktop as it requires a Java applet to run.
  • Lack of confidence and trust in the “Future of Oracle Forms” — We regularly hear from our customers that they are being told that ‘Forms are dead’. This raises doubts for them about future support.
  • High licensing costs — companies running Oracle Forms 6i environments are actually only paying for a client server license The latest version requires the addition of application server licensing which can be prohibitively costly.
  • You rely heavily on multiple and/or complex Oracle Forms-based systems in your operations — migrating away from Forms would. likely turn into a multi-year and multi-million dollar project.
  • You are eventually looking to modernize using any of the options listed below — while ensuring no downtime, the upgrade will grant you the highest level of security and stability of your mission-critical systems.
  • You have a lot of business logic trapped inside your Oracle Forms application, — moving away from Forms altogether could be risky and require considerable development and QA.
  • Your back-office applications are meeting. your business requirements but you want to ensure future technology support
  • You are eventually planning on modernizing or extending your application using the hybrid solution below, or eventually planning a migration away from Forms towards Oracle APEX.

Option 2: Running Oracle Forms on OCI

  • Test Server Creation in Minutes — spin up test servers at any time
  • Ease of Installation — Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) comes with an out-of-the-box Oracle Forms Image where all you have to do is put in your specific customizations and paths.
  • Environment available outside of organisation — enjoy having an environment without having to rely on system managers to make small changes and enable things such as test environments.
  • Easy to adopt — the software running in OCI is treated exactly as if it was installed on-premise. Therefore, all the Forms and Weblogic administration will be the same regardless of on-premise or in OCI.
  • Access to other cloud services (Object Store for example), as well as Autonomous Database, Oracle’s fully managed Database service.
  • Upgrading will be more complicated as these are “quick-start” virtual machines.
  • Patches and upgrades are the customers’ responsibility to perform.
  • Planning security and architecture — WAs when deploying systems on any new environment or platform one must properly plan, architect, secure and build the necessary authentication mechanisms.
  • Hesitation to enable systems to cloud — Many organizations have yet to embrace the cloud revolution and are still wary of having systems and data available on cloud environments.
  • You are planning on staying with Oracle Forms and would like to be on the most modern, stable, supported and standardized infrastructure.
  • You would like your data to be available and accessible on the cloud — using Oracle’s database Cloud with OCI and Oracle Forms will provide you with the most cost effective as well as native inborn support solution.
  • Also for customers migrating from Oracle Forms 6i, the cloud server Oracle Forms license is significantly less expensive then its on premise counterpart.

Option 3: UI / UX Modernization

  • Fast time-to-market (TTM) — Capture Oracle workflows using a wizard-based development tool, making them agile and immediately available for mobile/web.
  • Automation — Perform automation on the application layer without screen scraping ensures that the Services will be immune to changes that occur in the back-end application.
  • Cost-effective — No need to redevelop or migrate the existing system nor develop new DataBase API’s.
  • No need for a major QA initiative — Enabling the existing system so no need for a lengthy QA process.
  • Low/No Risk — Start small and grow as you go — no need to re-engineer the entire application, simply extend specific business flows to mobile as needed.
  • Ensures stability — No intrusive production installations, configurations nor major back-end redevelopments, ensuring system consistency and reliability while modernizing.
  • Easy integration and automation of Oracle EBS — The new application, equipped with modern-day APIs, is now accessible to other external applications. It can be easily integrated or automated by any platform in the organization.
  • Solution Costs — You will still need to maintain valid Oracle Forms licensing
  • Lack of confidence and trust in Forms being supported into the future,
  • Lipstick on a Pig this codename has often been used to describe this strategic approach whereby although the front-end looks modernized, the back-end is not a new next generation technology.
  • Against corporate strategy People might want to be completely off legacy no matter the risk and cost and a corporate strategy. However, that strategy needs to be offset by the costs of the migration project.
  • There are people who no longer want to pay Oracle support. However, that cost needs to be offset by the costs of the migration project.
  • You have hundreds or thousands of complex Oracle Forms applications, but you still want to offer your end-users modern interfaces and a gateway into the future.
  • You don’t want to suffer the risk and cost of a multi-year, potentially multi-million dollar migration and a redevelopment project.
  • You are looking for a phased approach, to move into next generation technologies with your existing developers.
  • You are looking to improve the overall efficiency and agility of a modernization rollout. Apps are created using a wizard-based development tool.
  • You have specific use-cases in immediate need of modernization and can’t wait for a full redevelopment / migration

Option 4. Create an Oracle Forms to APEX hybrid environment

  • Existing interfaces to other enterprise applications remain intact.
  • Quick turnaround on new requirements — Using Oracle APEX, new business requirements can be quickly addressed without disruption to existing systems.
  • Change Management — the transition to newer UI is slower and done over time, allowing your business users to become accustomed to a new way of working.
  • Leverage existing IT resources, Oracle Forms and APEX both use PL/SQL and can share database code and elements seamlessly
  • Business logic that may traditionally be locked away in your Forms applications does not completely have to be reverse-engineered if exposed by AuraPlayer REST services
  • Leverage mainstream technologies such as RESTful APIs, powerful visualizations and responsive design.
  • Allows a phased approach to full migration — opposite of a big-bang approach, migration can happen over time, with new and urgent demands addressed quickly, with existing back-end applications migrated slowly.
  • You will still need to maintain valid Oracle Forms licensing
  • Potential additional cost of REST services for development or integration
  • Need to support and QA 2 sets of applications
  • You are an organization that has large and/or numerous Oracle Forms applications with complicated business logic and interfaces to other enterprise tools.
  • Your Forms applications. are running well on the whole, but. a subset of them have usability or portability issues
  • You may also have new and often urgent requirements to meet new business processes and need to quickly adapt to market demands on more modern platforms.
  • If you’d like to do new development with a next generation framework, however you also do not want to waste your time reinventing the wheel of your Forms application.
  • You are working towards a full migration away from Forms, but want to do so in a slow and steady way over time. The hybrid environment can help you bridge that gap.

Option 5: Oracle Forms Migration to APEX

  • Reimagine the existing system — Redeveloping presents new opportunities to review and streamline processes
  • Not dependent on Oracle Forms licenses
  • Easier to find developers — For more modern technologies such as Oracle APEX, HTML5, Javascript
  • Next generation technology features — Systems provide out of the box features to fulfil changing business requirements
  • Quick go to market — Smoother, more modern development environment with quick go-to-market
  • Rapid responsive development — Fully responsive and mobile-ready applications that runs on any device, with rapid development
  • Prolonged Planning Time — In order for organizations to fully migrate their application, it is crucial to have an in-depth knowledge of the existing functional processes.
  • Original system developers are usually unavailable, making reverse engineering the Forms business logic difficult.
  • High cost — The migration and redevelopment process could end up costing millions of dollars over several years.
  • Error prone — as it is highly difficult to reverse engineer. Forms migration requires a vast amount of QA and can be error prone.
  • Data synchronization challenges — occurs between the new application and the old one, since not all the functions exist on your new application and are vital to complete any given request.
  • Lengthy time to market- The process is long, so many organizations only release their new application upon completing the whole process (years later) and are not able to deliver modern applications in sprints.
  • You are an organization that has had significant changes to your business processes and are seeing escalating costs related to support, development and testing of updates to your Oracle Forms.
  • You have low user adoption and poor satisfaction due to legacy user interface throughout
  • Your system is in Forms 6i and you do not want to spend the money to purchase new Oracle Forms licenses, making the cost to migrate less of a factor
  • You are struggling to hire and retain Forms developers.
  • Your corporate strategy is dictating a migration off of legacy Oracle Forms systems.

About the Authors

Mia Urman, CEO of AuraPlayer
Francis Mignault, EVP technologies at Insum

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Mia Urman, CEO of AuraPlayer, Oracle Ace Director and a world-class expert in development tools, Oracle Forms / EBS modernization, mobile, RPA and chat.

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Mia Urman

Mia Urman

Mia Urman, CEO of AuraPlayer, Oracle Ace Director and a world-class expert in development tools, Oracle Forms / EBS modernization, mobile, RPA and chat.

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