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Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g supports SCA, JavaServer Faces development

Rob Barry and Jack Vaughan

Oracle today launched the Fusion Middleware 11g suite, which aims to be an all-inclusive product for application development infrastructure. It represents the first major release of the Fusion middleware platform since the company closed the deal last year to buy application infrastructure vendor BEA Systems.

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It used to be the database. Now it is middleware leading our technology growth.
Charles Phillips
PresidentOracle
Fusion 11g is a full-fledged update that takes a standards-based approach to bringing a wide range of SOA development processes together into a single design environment. "It's really the unifying point for a lot of things we've been doing," said Rick Schultz, VP of product marketing, at the launch. "We've been trying to build a single stack of computing to simplify [development]."

Included as part of Fusion Middleware 11g is WebLogic Suite 11g. Highlights include support for JavaServer Faces and a Model View Controller framework for development, an updated JRockit JVM optimized for 64-bit memory, and a version of the high-performance Oracle Coherence memory data grid technology has been integrated so that shared pools of memory can more easily be used across systems and applications. As well, Fusion Middleware 11g includes an Oracle SOA suite update supporting the Service Component Architecture (SCA) model.

After absorbing BEA and its WebLogic Java application server for $8.5 billion in January 2008, Oracle established itself as a stronger force in the middleware marketplace. The company has since discussed a WebLogic roadmap that reaches a kind of milestone with the Fusion 11G rollout. Prior to the BEA acquisition, Oracle had a largely unheralded home-grown Java server that trailed both BEA and IBM (WebSphere) in use.

"This is a major launch of a key part of Oracle. It's the foundation, the way we build middleware," said Charles Phillips, president, Oracle.

"It used to be the database. Now it is middleware leading our technology growth," he said.

Thomas Kurian, senior vice president, Oracle Fusion Middleware, said building the SOA suite on an SCA component foundation helps the company support various engines for various architectures. He said Oracle's suite can support event pattern styles of development as well as SOA patterns of development.

Kurian said an SOA Composite Editor tool works within JDeveloper to help integrators assemble applications from existing services.

Fusion middleware stack analysis

Oracle representatives placed the BEA integration and the overall middleware initiative as a high priority amid a flurry of other merger and integration activity. Tony Baer, an analyst with Ovum, said BEA was clearly the main event in this release and pushed Oracle to the forefront of middleware.

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In a blog posting, Baer said: "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). Before getting swallowed by Oracle, BEA had multiple portal, development, and integration technologies lacking a common framework. By comparison, Oracle has emphasized a common framework for mashing the pieces together."

Judith Hurwitz, principal, Hurwitz & Associates, said the release adds nothing unexpected.

"What jumped out at me is that it was incremental," said Hurwitz "I think the fact that they're adding components like [WebLogic] is important but it's part of an ongoing process."

Customers don't like to see releases that signify a departure from present models, Hurwitz said. They like to see continual, incremental improvement, a path Oracle appears to be following.

Oracle has purchased more than 50 other companies in the past few years. While they have continued to develop these products, Hurwitz said the company has fit components together where they could.

"But it takes time because they bought a lot," Hurwitz said.

Along with a new version of Oracle JDeveloper 11g IDE, Oracle released tools that support a Model View Controller (MVC) pattern supporting the JavaServer Faces Web application framework. The company's version of the developer framework is known as the Oracle Application Development Framework. Oracle said these moves make it easier for developers to create and deploy Java EE 5, Web 2.0 and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) and other Rich Internet Applications.

"We build everything using JavaServer Faces as a component model. Then the framework takes care of rendering to different technologies," said Ted Farrell, Chief Architect and Vice President, Tools and Middleware, Oracle. Such traits, he continued, help as the industry moves through HTML, DHTML, Flash, AJAX and so on.

The advantage to the customer is, when technology changes, "users don't have to change pages they already wrote," said Farrell.

XML-based declarative language support, accompanying Java language support, speeds programming, he indicated. This approach is central to the MVC and JavaServer Faces implementation, allowing rendering to multiple platforms, and the concept is carried on further in the Oracle SOA Suite's use of SCA and BPEL metadata models.

"Our approach [uses] XML as a universal meta date platform," said Farrell.


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