Oracle Sets Post-BEA Tools Strategy

Oracle lays out its road map to integrate BEA's technology into the Oracle portfolio. For tools, that means building around Oracle JDeveloper.

Oracle has set its post-BEA developer tools road map and the focus will be around the Oracle JDeveloper integrated development environment.

Oracle President Charles Phillips and Thomas Kurian, Oracle Fusion Middleware senior vice president, in a Webcast on July 1 outlined the company's plans for integrating the BEA Systems technology Oracle bought for $8.5 billion into the Oracle fold.

Essentially, what Oracle showed is that the company is good at acquiring and integrating software into its portfolio of offerings, having done it so frequently over the past few years. It was no surprise that Oracle decided to focus on the more mature BEA WebLogic Application Server as the core of its Fusion Middleware stack, just like it was no surprise that Oracle would continue to focus on its JDeveloper IDE as the center of its tool strategy.

"From the tooling side, we've had a fairly clear message for a number of years now and that's going to continue: to have a single development platform that supports the middleware from soup to nuts, and that's the JDeveloper IDE," said Duncan Mills, senior director of product management for Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Mills said certain parts of the tooling for BEA's products, such as for the service bus, will be migrating to JDeveloper over time.

"The BEA tooling is Eclipse-based, but it comes in several flavors," Mills said.

Blogger Tony Baer was a bit less diplomatic in his assessment:

""While Oracle has been schizoid in its Eclipse strategy, BEA was schizoid on tools in general. Originally embracing a VB-like approach with the original WebLogic Workshop, BEA later forsook the technology following acquisition of an Eclipse-based successor, throwing its installed base into a confusing migration strategy. No question here as to which way Oracle is going.""

Mills said on the Workshop front, Oracle set out to simplify the solution set by eliminating all of the BEA Workshop editions except the most powerful one and then making that free. He said that edition of Workshop sold for around $900.

"We don't expect developers to move away from the stuff they're wedded to," Mills said, noting that "we've inherited a whole new community of developers."

Kurian drove home the point that Oracle will not be forcing BEA technology users to migrate to Oracle products to converged BEA/Oracle solutions the company is delivering.

"We'll keep Workshop going in the short term, and in the longer term we're delivering the Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse," which will be a complete and integrated Eclipse-based solution for building enterprise Java applications and applications using Enterprise JavaBeans technology and Web services, Mills said. The Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse is slated to be available by the end of the year.

"In other areas, Oracle's roadmap is a case of seasoning its Fusion portfolio with BEA pieces where they fill gaps," Baer said.

Oracle blogger Justin Kestelyn summarized Kurian's points on some of the specific technology directions Oracle is moving in. "Technical direction is to continue to modularize the AS [application server] under the OSGi [Open Services Gateway Initiative] model," Kestelyn said. "JRockit is 'critical' JVM [Java Virtual Machine] technology for Oracle going forward, but Fusion Middleware will continue to support other JVMs."

In addition, on the SOA (service-oriented architecture) front, "all components will continue to be hot-pluggable; combined platform offers tools, middleware, governance, and packaged components [and] Oracle ESB [Enterprise Service Bus] and AquaLogic ESB to be converged into new Oracle Service Bus," he said.

Also on the SOA front, "we're bringing in the BEA AquaLogic repository as the governance repository," but Oracle will be using the Oracle Service Registry as the registry, Kestelyn said.

Added Baer:

""Oracle's strategy for BEA products is a conservative one-not simply from the decision to continue supporting even obsolete products, but rather, that it has not been as fast on the draw with new technologies as was BEA. That explains BEA's earlier embrace of OSGi, but the flip side of bear hugging the new and trendy explains why it has never had a consistent tooling story while Oracle, love it or hate it, has.""

In addition, Kestelyn blogged that Oracle's strategy is that "some products are 'Strategic' (immediate integration into Fusion Middleware stack), some are 'Continue & Converge' (some redesign necessary with gradual integration into stack; support for at least nine years), and some are in 'Maintenance' mode (those same products identified as such by BEA pre-acquisition; support for at least four years)."

Kurian said Oracle will merge the Oracle BPA Designer with the BEA AquaLogic BPM Designer.

Regarding Enterprise 2.0 and portal technology, Oracle will offer a complete and integrated multichannel composite UI to unify the process of developing rich media, rich Internet applications, enterprise portals and social computing solutions. The BEA WebLogic Portal will evolve and converge with the Oracle WebCenter framework.

Kurian said there will also be simplified pricing for the converged products.

In less than two months since Oracle completed its acquisition of BEA-in early May-"we're trying to give you a clear road map," Kurian said. "We're working with best-of-breed products and integrating them ... and we've broadened the Oracle and BEA middleware products."