After nearly a 20-month gestation period, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) today announced the arrival this month of the next generation of its sprawling middleware family, the long-anticipated Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g.
Billed as a "complete, integrated, and hot-pluggable" middleware set of suites, the new software infrastructure offerings, which the Redwood Shores, Calif. computer giant previewed in November 2007, bolsters functionality, integration and business intelligence (BI) benefits across its vast product portfolio, including new capabilities for Oracle SOA Suite, WebLogic Suite, Web Center Suite, and opening debut for Identity Management as a suite.
With the spoils of the BEA acquisition now fully baked into the mix -- and with anticipation for what the pending Sun Microsystems (JAVA) buy brings -- Oracle is well on its way to obviating the middleware moniker. Perhaps we should call it "anyware."
The glaring missing link now, however, is the cloud element of Oracle's destiny. With such a broad infrastructure, data lifecycle, and apps/services development portfolio -- not to mention deep hooks into Oracle's burgeoning business applications offerings -- the only needed outcome to fulfill is the "any" in "anyware." That must include a fluid sourcing, hosting and business model future -- the nearly obvious Oracle Cloud.
Now that it's here, the 11g continental conglomeration must be the gateway for the enveloping 12c, as in "c" for cloud. You don't need to be an oracle to factor that clear and necessary path to the future.
Meanwhile, terrestrial Oracle also announced today that its middleware remains the company's fastest growing business with 90,000 customers worldwide, including 29 of the Dow Jones' top 30, 98 of Fortune's 100 Global, and 10 of the top 10 companies in major industries.
Enhancements across the platform of platforms in the Fusion Middleware 11g include:
- SOA Suite, a unifying system of human and document-centric processes and an event-driven architecture (EDA) with a complete range of SOA capabilities from development to security and governance. Deployed on the Oracle application grid infrastructure, the SOA underpinnings are optimized for building and integrating services on private and public clouds.
- WebLogic Suite (including WebLogic Server) adds new features, including Fusion Middleware GridLink for Real Application Clusters and Fusion Middleware Enterprise Grid Messaging. Fusion Middleware ActiveCache also enables rapid scale-out to meet changing user demand and system load.
- WebCenter Suite provides a broad set of reusable, out-of-the-box WebCenter Services components that can be plugged into any type of portal – intranet, composite application, Web-based community – to enhance social networking and personal productivity.
- Composer, a declarative, browser-based tool, makes it easy for both end-users and developers to create, share, and personalize applications, portals and social sites.
- WebCenter Spaces, a new pre-built social networking solution, enables end-user driven, created and managed communities (Group Spaces and Personal Spaces) to increase productivity, communication, and efficiency.
- Identity Management delivers the first components of a fully integrated Identity Management suite and features deeper integration with other Fusion Middleware solutions, as well as new features such as Deployment Accelerators, Universal Federation Framework, and a modern unified user interface based on Oracle’s Application Development Framework (ADF) Faces.
One of the key take-aways from 11g is the infusion of BI and analytics across the portfolio. That will also be a key of any cloud-based offerings from Oracle. Comprehensive BI as a service may very well be the killer application of cloud approaches.
Of the still standing middleware field -- IBM, Microsoft, Software AG, Red Hat/JBoss, Progress, TIBCO, SAP and Sybase -- only a few will be both able to get the "anyware" in terms of product breadth and of cloud delivery. [Disclosure: Progress and TIBCO and sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Oracle has sewn up its field brilliantly via its organic and aquisitions-fueled growth of the past decade. With Sun and its ID management, file system/directory, storage, Solaris community, and speedy silicon, the path to cloud seems inevitable and closer than most thought for Oracle. Incidentally, control of Java is more a strategic weapon than an enabler.
Oracle still needs more total governance (don't we all), a PaaS play, and a whole lot of globally established and cutting edge, cloud-delivery data centers in place humming along. Oh, and the transition from a licensed to subscription commodity services business models won't be any much easier for Oracle than Microsoft. Has to be done, however.
But, as usual, Oracle will stride like the Rhodes Colossus the build, buy and partner spectrum of opportunity to attain a gobal cloud delivery capability. Nothing but the best will do, of course. Oracle has just about everything else in place, that's abundantly clear.