Blueprints for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g Take Shape

Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, expected to debut sometime next year, will have enhancements -- lots of them. Oracle OpenWorld attendees got a rapid-fire preview of the new middleware release Tuesday as Thomas Kurian, Fusion Middleware senior vice president, outlined the broad range of new features and capabilities in the upcoming product.

The new functionality, which Kurian said will "fundamentally change how you use Oracle Fusion Middleware," covers broad technology areas including service-oriented architecture, enterprise performance management and business intelligence, content management, application development, security and identity management, and grid computing.

As the market for database software matures Oracle is counting on its middleware products to generate a lot of its future growth. Oracle Fusion middleware is also critical to the company's 9,000 ISV, reseller and system integrator channel partners who build solutions on top of the Fusion platform.

The middleware is also critical in that Oracle's next-generation Fusion applications will rely heavily on the Fusion middleware for such functionality as security and business intelligence capabilities.

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The 11g release has gone through four beta testing cycles with 170 customers and Kurian said Tuesday that a development preview version of the software is scheduled to ship in mid-December. But Kurian would only say that Fusion Middleware 11g would be generally available sometime in calendar 2008.

Many of the enhancements are in the Fusion line's business intelligence and performance management tools, including new change data-capture and data quality profiling capabilities and the ability to perform data transformation tasks within a data warehouse instead of in a separate system.

The Business Intelligence Server will provide new data visualization and dynamic data presentation features, "proactive alerts" that monitor business key performance indicators, and tighter integration with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications. Essbase, the online analytical processing engine acquired with Hyperion, will be capable of analyzing data as it streams in from a transactional system.

On the development side, enhancements will help businesses develop richer Web 2.0 applications, Kurian said. New software called Oracle Composer will allow a company to build a single foundational application that individuals, departments and organizations throughout the company can customize without changing core application, Kurian said.

A series of new capabilities in the Oracle Identity Management Suite such as improved role-management tools will help companies manage the life cycle of system user identities. The Adoptive Access Manager assesses the risk of granting someone access to data and can ask suspect users for additional forms of identification. Kurian said Oracle's strategy in security and identification management is to consolidate how organizations define the identity of the user, give access control privileges and provide single sign-on permissions.

In a related matter, Oracle is shipping updates to two content management applications acquired when it bought Stellent Technology one year ago. Oracle Imaging and Process Management 10g release 3 is priced at $50,000 or $1,000 per named user while Oracle Information Rights Management 10g release 3 is priced at $500 per named user.