Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g Embraces Social Networking, Efficiency

Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, the latest upgrade of Oracle's middleware platform, includes tools that allow the enterprise to collaborate and trade information more effectively, while attempting to simplify the processes involved in development, IT governance and other areas. Perhaps in a nod to economic realities, Oracle is not radically changing the pricing structure of Middleware 11g from its predecessor, according to an executive.

Oracle's latest platform rollout, Fusion Middleware 11g, embraces new elements such as social networking, even as some of its features seem geared toward businesses looking to streamline their processes in the midst of a recession.

Oracle Middleware 11g's enhancements, designed to simplify day-to-day aspects of enterprise networks such as IT governance, service-oriented security and development, can be placed within five modular groups:

??Ç Oracle SOA Suite 11g: A single-process platform designed to bring system, human and "document-centric processes" under the same umbrella while deploying an EDA (event-driven architecture) with a library of SOA (service-oriented-architecture) capabilities.

??Ç Oracle WebLogic Suite 11g: Adds layers of operational insight and automation to the business processes via a number of Oracle tools, increasing server uptime and reliability.

??Ç Oracle Identity Management 11g: An integrated Identity Management Suite, with tools such as Deployment Accelerators, Universal Federation Framework, and a unified user interface based on Oracle's ADF (Application Development Framework) Faces.

??Ç Oracle Development Tools: These include Oracle JDeveloper, Oracle Application Development Framework and Oracle TopLink.

??Ç The last of these elements, Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g, includes Oracle WebCenter Spaces, a social networking application that allows businesses to create communities within which to communicate, as well as share documents and other business-related information.

While not an integration of a separate social networking application or site into its software, as did with Twitter, Oracle's incorporation of some social networking elements into its newest middleware suggests that developers continue to see social networking as valuable within the enterprise context.

Indeed, Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of server technologies for Oracle, cited the new platform's enterprise portal, social computing and Web portal abilities as a key development, saying during a Q&A session with eWEEK and other media outlets that they "give the people the ability to interact with other people and the information processes they need."

Another key benefit, Kurian said, comes from the platform's application grid and identity management capabilities, which "lower the cost of deploying in an operational environment." He added, "The application grid takes a pool of machines and/or storage and puts those machines together into a cluster that gives you better performance and reliability."

Cost, of course, is a prime issue for the enterprise as during the worldwide recession. In that spirit, Middleware 11g has been given roughly the same pricing structure as its predecessor, so as to not impede cash-strapped businesses potentially looking for an upgrade. A higher price, Kurian said, "causes people to be slower to upgrade to the new versions."

The company has high hopes for adoption of its newest platform.

When Oracle announced the launch of its Fusion Middleware 11g platform in a presentation in Washington on July 1, Oracle President Charles Phillips described it as "a major launch of a key product line, a foundation for how we will deploy technology in general."

Building on previous versions of Fusion Middleware, the newest iteration has been optimized for increasingly virtualized data centers, with a focus on providing enterprises with a continual stream of real-time information and the infrastructure for agile business applications.

On the developer side, the Middleware 11g has been designed with developers' needs in mind, specifically with regard to building rich Internet applications, application customization and systems consolidation. Developer tools range from common metadata management to ALM (application lifecycle management).

Middleware 11g also utilizes the newer capabilities found in many enterprise data centers.

"It takes advantage of multicore processors, with new levels of caches, such as [Level 1] and L2 caches," Phillips said during his presentation. "We took advantage of 64-bit addressing ... this will allow you to address larger spaces in data and memory."