At its OpenWorld user conference in San Francisco last week, Oracle Corp. sought to explain how its Fusion Middleware will form the foundation for the companys next-generation application stack.
The Redwood Shores, Calif., company released at the conference Version 3.0 of its namesake application server, which includes a spate of new tools ranging from an enhanced BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) Process Manager to an enterprise service bus messaging capability that is key to routing Web services. At the same time, keynote addresses from CEO Larry Ellison and other Oracle officials pounded home the Fusion Middleware message.
"Our areas of focus over the next 24 months [include] open standards," Ellison said. "Our most important theme is Fusion Middleware. Were basing our middleware on Java and Java-related standards. Whats most important about that is our applications are built on top of that. So long as we build our products based on standards, which we are doing, you should [for example] be able to unplug our Java container and plug in an IBM Java container if it runs better or youve already bought it."
Not brought to the fore, however, were the functionality aspects still missing from the Fusion Middleware stack. For example, Oracle officials talked about building Fusion applications that are based on business roles with adaptive processes, but the company cannot, as yet, enable IT users to model and then simulate a process. John Wookey, Oracles senior vice president of application development, said the company is considering whether it should acquire, build or partner on the capability.
At the same time, Oracle is building out functionality that will enable process integration across its E-Business Suite and, eventually, across the Fusion suite.
Jose Lazares, senior director of application technology at Oracle, said the company is developing a hosted integration repository, due next month, for Oracle E-Business Suite that defines, documents and maps services, or process flows, within the suites applications. In the first half of next year, Oracle will also provide the same sort of infrastructure to expose the suite as a set of services.
A repository for PeopleSoft and JD Edwards process flows already exists.
Lazares said that as Project Fusion evolves, Oracle will work to build out a separate integration repository that will bring together the Web services-enabled process flows of Oracles E-Business, PeopleSoft Enterprise and JD Edwards Enterprise One suites. The repository, which will remain hosted, is slated to be available with the first release of Project Fusion, around 2007.
"Its like the master record of what is publicly available, the services of what Oracle delivers," Lazares said. "In the future, it starts to serve the function of not only a repository but a registry."
The repository will have bidirectional discovery capabilities and will let users search all processes, using a taxonomy.
Despite Oracles massive R&D effort for Fusion Middleware, not all users are convinced Fusion is necessary.
"I dont need it," said Robert Moon, senior vice president and CIO of LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., who bought into Oracles previous message of using all Oracle applications with no customizations. "Ninety percent of users dont have any [need] for extracting processes that are unique. Its all in Oracle," Moon said.
Moon conceded that the Fusion Middleware stack includes business intelligence capabilities that had been missing in Oracles database.
"My dream is to have [LeapFrogs] president, CMO [chief marketing officer], CFO [chief financial officer], buyers—everyone—coming in in the morning to log on to a BI page to see whats happened since they went home," Moon said. "That, theyre interested in."