Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Inside the Middle

I've written generally about Oracle Fusion Middleware but let's move down to the next level of detail. An easy way to do this is to focus on functionality. There are seven functional categories of products in Fusion Middleware, per Oracle.

The Unified Workplace group which provides collaboration tools (Groupware, Instant Messaging), portals, mobile/desktop presentation and secure search.

The Composition and Process Orchestration group which includes the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Process Manager and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). These products enable the integration of application services across disparate systems so everyone's communicating interactively.

The Development Tools which include JDeveloper. This is Oracle’s Java Integrated Development Environment (think Visual Studio for Java). Several development framework products (ADF, Toplink…) are also included here. They extend JDeveloper’s capabilities and simplify sophisticated Java development.
Development Tools also includes Oracle's Process Modeling tool which was licensed from Aris along with the Business Rules developer.

The Enterprise Application Server group consists of the 10g Application Server (J2EE), Services Registry and Web Services support.

The Security group which provides Identity Management for people/roles and for those rogue application services that might exist in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Rogue? Sounds cool doesn't it?

The Management group of products includes Oracle Enterprise Manager, Web Services management and tools for BPEL/BAM monitoring. Like all good management it ensures that no one is slacking off including the database, network and you.

The Information and Aggregation Analysis group includes Oracle’s Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), formerly known as Siebel Analytics. Also you will find Business Activity Management (BAM), Content Management, Oracle Master Data Management and BI Discoverer. There's a data warehouse in there somewhere but the focus is more on pulling information from operational systems.

With so many products in Fusion Middleware it’s easy to get lost and never want go back.

For that reason I’m seeing Oracle’s current marketing focus in the Fusion Middleware area being primarily with
  • Business Intelligence
  • Identity Management
  • Service Oriented Architecture
  • Business Process Management
These are nice industry buzzwords that most of us have encountered in the press. Oracle knows that and hopes it will help us get on board with the products. I think it's a good strategy.

I'll close this post with my perceptions on Fusion Middleware, in general. See if you agree.

1. Because of Fusion Middleware’s breadth there is a lot of uncertainty about how to leverage its capabilities. Right now there are a few early adopters, excepting Business Intelligence, who are really using the products effectively. But be aware. There is a wave forming out there just beyond your view that will bring this into the mainstream.

2. This family of products is one that will generate a lot of interesting work for everyone. How will that impact your career?

3. Business Process Management (BPA, BPEL) is not glorified Workflow though that’s an easy way to first categorize it. More on that in a future blog.

4. Fusion Middleware relies significantly on industry-standards (Java, XML, SOA, BEPL, etc…). That’s a good thing and we should all be sleeping better because of it.

5. Fusion Middleware will create new job roles in most organizations. Remember when there was no such thing as a “DBA”? Well, get ready for some new acronyms!

6. Middleware will put pressure on many of the barriers that currently exist between the technical IT types and the Functional Business types because it will require both to work much more closely than in the past. We are potentially talking about the end of the Departmental Cold War in many organizations.

7. The underlying principles of SOA have the potential to revolutionize the agility of business processing and the efficiency of IT beyond all we’ve seen in the past. I know that sounds a bit over the top but I've drunk the kool-aid and I'm not going back.

In my next post: Oracle also markets the Fusion Middleware products in several Suites which bundle them for easier marketing.

To help sort it out I’ll provide a table of the products that should help better illustrate all of this. Plus I'll try to make it interesting! That's should be worth a look, right?

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