Oracle's FusionFest: BEA underneath, dogfood, Sun on the horizon

BEA headlines Oracle FusionFest; Next year, Sun?
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In a large splash out of Washington DC this week, Oracle rolled out the next iteration of its Fusion Middleware suite, dubbed 11g. The announcement -- let's call it "FusionFest" -- was complex and densely packed, and product details have received plenty of coverage elsewhere across the Web, so we won't go into it here. (Oracle presentation here, ZDNet also has cache of Oracle Fusion Middleware content, whitepapers and posts.)

BEA headlines FusionFest '09

It's important to note that Oracle has declared "mission accomplished" in terms of bringing in all the prime pieces of last year's BEA acquisition. In fact, the BEA's crown jewel, the WebLogic server, has been integrated into Oracle WebLogic Suite 11g and beefed up with "new levels of operational insight and automation," as well as Oracle Grid capabilities. "In 11g, there’s a lot of integration with the BEA products," Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware products, said at a press conference leading up to the launch. "WebLogic server is the strategic application server which is the basis of the 11g product family."

My pal Tony Baer weighed in on FusionFest, stating that while the new product details were pretty "anticlimatic," it was noteworthy that this was more about BEA than Oracle pre-BEA. "Oracle had Fusion middleware prior to acquiring BEA, but there’s little question that BEA was the main event. WebLogic filled the donut hole in the middle of the Fusion stack with a server that was far more popular than Oracle Containers for Java EE (OC4J)," he writes. "Singlehandedly, BEA catapulted Oracle Fusion into becoming a major player in middleware."

Of course, the impending Sun Microsystems acquisition is another massive pile-o'-stuff coming down the pike -- and perhaps the theme for FusionFest '10. Or, as Miko Matsumura likes to call this next emerging combine, "Snorkel." Miko cautions against relying on a single stack from one vendor for all middleware needs.

Between BEA, and soon, Sun, there's a ton of middleware from a lot of different place for a lot of different uses coming under a single domain. As ZDNet colleague Dana Gardner put it: "Oracle is well on its way to obviating the middleware moniker. Perhaps we should call it 'anyware.'" Dana was on a roll, suggesting that Oracle really needs to hop on the cloudtrain to really start making this monstrosity work. "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," he says.

Dana also feels these acquisitions and integrated suites are giving Oracle the edge. "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."

Another interesting point by Oracle's Rizvi is that his company is eating its own dogfood. All new Oracle products going forward (and I presume that includes the database and E-Business Suite) will be constructed from the Fusion Middleware suite itself. As he put it: "11g middleware is the platform on which we are developing the next generation of Oracle applications. So the next generation of the applications that we are developing is also leveraging the same principles that our customers will be leveraging. We have been working with our applications division for over a year in terms of early use of 11g."

ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan also provides coverage of FusionFest, noting the immensity of what is a complex and often mis-understood strategy on the part of Oracle: "To say there are a few moving parts in Oracle’s Fusion day is a bit of an understatement," he mused.

ZDNet colleague and Enterprise Irregular Dennis Howlett says that he's "still betting that in the long term, Oracle’s strategy will be shown as fundamentally flawed." That's because Oracle has been on a massive acqusition binge -- 58 over the last six years. "It’s a pantomime horse of many moving parts the company is trying to pull together and which may one day see its nadir in Fusion Applications." He adds that the mega-suite approach doesn't have a great history. Oracle is demonstrating that it has a "vise-like grip on everything from hardware through middleware and on to applications," he said. "No vendor on the planet has successfully pulled off the ‘end-to-end one-stop shop’ trick and Oracle most certainly won’t do it."

We'll have to see if Oracle pulls it off, and perhaps provide more details at FusionFest '10. Will Sun be the headline there? Probably not enough time, but it only took 12 months to fuse BEA into the Oracle machine.

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