Seeking to compete in the software services age, Oracle today unveiled a modernized version of its Fusion middleware to take better advantage of cloud computing, SOA, service-oriented security and collaboration.
The four newly updated components of Fusion Middleware 11g, including Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle WebLogic Suite, Oracle WebCenter Suite and Oracle Identity Management, will serve as a convergence layer for existing and future Fusion applications and services.
This "convergence layer" will be part of an integrated stack of Oracle software that, along with a refurbished set of development tools also announced today, will give larger IT shops more flexibility and speed in deploying a range of different application strategies, according to Oracle President Charles Phillips.
"Today what we are saying is middleware is the convergence layer for everything we are doing, which is striving for a complete stack," Phillips said during a press conference in Washington, D.C. "All the apps we are building for the future will have the same infrastructure. That is how we will integrate them. If you understand what we are doing with middleware then you know what we are doing with all our applications," Phillips said.
With this announcement it is Oracle's hope, Phillips said, to guide the industry towards offering "pre-fab" environments where products right out of the box are fully integrated and based on accepted industry standards. This will eliminate the need for IT shops to serve as their own systems integrators piecing parts together.
"Vendors throwing stuff over the wall that you have to assemble is architecture by improvisation. Improvisation is good for jazz musicians but not so good for enterprise architectures," Phillips said. "This is our attempt to have a system that all works together, sort of like the iPod for the enterprise."
Over the next 100 days Oracle will be announcing "a lot" of different announcements that will be taking advantage of the new Fusion Middleware lineup, but he did not offer specifics.
Some analysts believe the Fusion Middleware 11g is one of the most ambitious undertakings by Oracle the past few years, given the number of new enhancements and its strategic implications. They are optimistic however about users' acceptance of the products and strategy.
"What's positive about this release is the number of customers who have already tested and proven that these solutions can work," said Ray Wang, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research.
At today's announcement, Lee Fairclough, vice president with Knoweldge Management, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, said Oracle 11g WebCenter has made it easier for the organization to customize business applications within a portal environment as well as helping the company better align IT with its business goals. "In particular, the tools in Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g will assist us in providing users access to all the materials on cancer including the research, guidelines, information and relevant services and tools to support both patients and families going through an experience of cancer or those actively working in the cancer system in Canada," she said.
The cloud and software services capabilities of the new products signal that Oracle is edging closer to more meaningful strategies involving those technologies. Company officials appear more inclined to focus on private cloud than public ones given feedback from users.
"There is a lot of focus around SaaS and the cloud the last six months. Customers want to deliver their IT systems as services," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president, Oracle Fusion Middleware Products. "A lot of customers want to do that internally and not necessarily through a public cloud."
The tighter integration between the product families modules and broader solutions, Oracle hopes to make larger IT shops more nimble in pursuing a number of different strategic initiatives.
"The fact is, IT environments are becoming a more strategic element of a company's business strategy, and as the business requirements change IT has to become more flexible and able to deal with those changes," Rizvi said.
Some of the enhancements made across the four product groups include:
- Oracle SOA Suite 11g can now 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 that supports Oracle Real Application Clusters and Oracle Fusion Middleware Enterprise Grid Messaging.
- Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g now contain components that can be plugged into several different types of portals to support social networking and personal productivity. It also includes Oracle Composer, a browser-based tool that lets users and developers to 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.
Another piece of the Fusion Middleware 11g unveiled today 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. Corporate or third party developers can use the tools separately or in tandem to create Java EE5, Web 2.0 and AJAX-based applications.