Oracle Unveils Next Generation Of Fusion Middleware, 11g

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Oracle has ambitions -- best illustrated by its pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems -- to become a one-stop shop of information technology products from hardware and operating system platforms, to database software, to applications. And as the glue that helps pull all that together, its Fusion Middleware is an increasingly critical component of that strategy. Phillips described the Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g announcement as one of the company's most significant for 2009, and took a swipe at rival IBM, arguing similar offerings from IBM offer a tiny fraction of what Oracle's suites can do.

"Vendors traditionally dominate one layer of that stack ... or throw a bunch of layers over the fence and have integrators try to get them to work together," Phillips said. Describing that approach as "architecture by improvisation," Phillips said Oracle's intention with Fusion Middleware 11g was to offer the complete stack, "instead of a highly customized environment that isn't repeatable."

Making the announcement at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., in front of a few hundred clients, partners, integrators, analysts and other associates, Phillips and Thomas Kurian, Oracle's Senior Vice President, Server Technologies, described and demonstrated updates to five key areas of Oracle's middleware offerings.

Ultimately, all of the pieces of the the Fusion Middleware 11g portfolio will be updated in time for Oracle OpenWorld this fall, they said.

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Oracle's SOA suite 11g will provide a single-process platform -- including a unifying system of human and document-centric processes and an event-driven architecture -- with a number of systems oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities around security and governance.

Another update, Oracle WebLogic Suite 11g, combines Oracle WebLogic Server and adds Oracle Middleware GridLink for Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Middleware Enterprise Grid Messaging, and Fusion Middleware ActiveCache to create a system that can adapt to changing user demands and varying system loads.

The third component, Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g, is, according to Oracle, a set of out-of-the-box WebCenter Services designed for almost any type of portal, including intranet, composite application and Web-based community. Kurian said the suite was designed with social networking in mind, and it includes a social networking platform, Oracle WebCenter Spaces, which enables users to manage communities.

Oracle also introduced a range of new development tools around its previously announced Oracle JDeveloper, Oracle Application Framework and Oracle TopLink offerings.

Last came Oracle Identity Management 11g, which integrates with the full range of Oracle Fusion Middleware software and also includes deployment accelerators and a universal federation framework, according to Oracle.

In a press briefing following the presentation, Kurian confirmed that there would be no significant changes in pricing between Fusion Middleware 10g and 11g.

"Whenever we do releases, we rarely like to change the pricing structure," he said. "It impedes the process of customers adopting new features and causes upgrades to be slower. When we incorporated BEA Systems a year ago, for example, we made commitments to customers, first that we'd very quickly deliver an integrated platform and second that we'd give them continuity in the way they dealt with Oracle. We kept the same metrics."

Kurian declined to discuss Oracle's pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems, or how Sun products would fit into the overall Fusion Middleware 11g package.

He added that updates for the content management, data integration and business intelligence areas of Oracle's middleware portfolio will be upgraded around 11g by the time Oracle OpenWorld kicks off in San Francisco on Oct. 12.

Extolling the benefits of 11g for channel partners, Kurian described ISVs and integrators as "very into it," and suggested the economic recession wouldn't affect 11g sales at all.

"Middleware growth has been strong all the way through this last fiscal year," he said. "We don't anticipate that the economic downturn will affect the takeup of 11g. If anything, it helps customers save costs."