Oracle has been making a lot of moves in the applications and middleware (and therefore SOA) space in recent months, causing one to ponder how far they are moving away from their traditional database and enterprise applications. Oracle's confusing mashup of the term "Fusion" to apply to both its integration of PeopleSoft, Siebel, JDEdwards and other acquired technologies, as well as branding its SOA middleware stack, left some people scratching their heads, but there appears to be a 'there' there.
In a new post at Computer Business Review, Angela Eager says all this activity is considerably changing the shape of Oracle's business, and the Big O is now "presenting a new face to the world." She adds that Oracle recognizes that "the mantra for the next generation of applications is fairly simple: control the platform and you control the process; control the process and you win the business. The vendor that controls the process has the biggest buy-in from the business and wins influence around that. With a database, middleware and application stack, Oracle is pitching for optimization and process control."
Last month, the Big O released its Oracle Event-Driven Architecture (EDA) Suite, which includes a range of Oracle Fusion Middleware products. In the spirit of SOA, Oracle said its Fusion middleware and EDA Suite are "hot-pluggable" architecture, meaning that it is interoperable with both Oracle and non-Oracle application servers.
Sergio Giacoletto, Oracle's executive VP of EMEA, is quoted by Eager as stating Oracle is heavily committed to SOA as the vehicle to build a service layer abstracted from the base of applications and databases. "For us, hundreds of different horizontal and vertical models mean we do not force customers to upgrade them all at the same time. The SOA approach is [the ability to] upgrade or swap at different levels and the technology layer is simpler and less challenging."
Oracle seems committed to reducing customer upgrade pain, but Eager wonders if they can withstand the transition from Oracle 1.0 to Oracle 2.0. "Oracle is in the midst of probably the largest integration and development project any software vendor has ever attempted. It is facing major operational changes as it adjusts to the subtlety of business application sales, and it is exploring how it can expand its market by targeting SMEs. These activities all have to be managed without negatively impacting its day-to-day operations, or those of its customers. Something may have to give: either the timescale, or the quality of the work."
And, of course, there's all this confusion over what 'Fusion ' is. Loek Bakker dove into this question, citing an interview with Larry Ellison in which he said Fusion is "NOT about the integration of Oracle, Siebel, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards. In fact Fusion is a completely new product, a complete rewrite. Integrating all the products is impossible according to Oracle, so Fusion will be a completely new product."In Loek's opinion, Oracle's middleware strategy is still "vague" and mainly tied to the Big O's E-Business Suite.