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Oracle's Fusion Middleware 11g heads for the clouds

With Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, the company hopes to improve its fortunes in the SaaS era.

Seeking to compete in the software services age, Oracle today overhauled its line of Fusion middleware to take better advantage of cloud computing, SOA, service-oriented security and collaboration.

The new Fusion Middleware 11g lineup, consisting of Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle WebLogic Suite, Oracle WebCenter Suite and Oracle Identity Management, allows each module to share a wider set of common services and functions with all the others.

"In talking to [us], customers … told us they need broader but integrated solutions instead of piecing together a lot of individual moving parts themselves," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president, Oracle Fusion Middleware Products.

With the rollout, some analysts said, Oracle is trying to help users and developers solve some short-term problems but also lay down a technical foundation for future growth.

"Oracle is putting forth a suite of middleware solutions that enable developers and software publishers to build solutions but also deliver the middleware tools that will serve as the foundation for its go-forward Fusion applications," said Ray Wang, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research. "What's positive about this release is the number of customers who have already tested and proven that these solutions can work."

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With tighter integration between the modules and broader solutions, Oracle hopes to make larger IT shops more nimble in pursuing a number of strategic initiatives.

"The fact is, IT environments are becoming a more strategic element of a company's business strategy," Rizvi said. "And as the business requirements change, IT has to become more flexible and able to deal with those changes."

Some of the enhancements made across the four product groups include:

  • Oracle SOA Suite 11g can now be deployed on the company's application grid infrastructure and is optimized for building and integrating services on private and public clouds.
  • Oracle WebLogic Suite 11g now includes Oracle Fusion Middleware GridLink, which supports Oracle Real Application Clusters and Oracle Fusion Middleware Enterprise Grid Messaging.
  • Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g now contains components that can be plugged into several types of portals to support social networking and personal productivity. It also includes Oracle Composer, a browser-based tool that lets users and developers create, share and personalize applications portals and social sites.
  • Oracle Identity Management 11g contains the first components of a fully integrated Identity Management suite and has new features including Deployment Accelerators, Universal Federation Framework, and a modern unified user interface based on Oracle's Application Development Framework (ADF) Faces.
The cloud and software services capabilities of the new products signal that Oracle is more committed to pursuing strategies involving those technologies, particularly solutions involving private clouds. In the past, company officials have appeared hesitant to aggressively support them in favor of its more traditional on-premise solutions.

"There is a lot of focus around SaaS and the cloud in the last six months. Customers want to deliver their IT systems as services," Rizvi said. "A lot of customers want to do that internally and not necessarily through a public cloud."

Another important piece unveiled by Oracle is Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle ADF 11g, a new team center and application development framework that will offer desktop integration to Office- and Java-based applications. Analysts say the new tools will play an important role in helping users and developers better customize Fusion applications.

"The bottom line is this is a richer set of development tools that can be used in custom development and for Fusion apps," Wang said.

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