WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oracle announced the launch of its Fusion Middleware 11g in a presentation at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in downtown Washington, D.C., on July 1.
“This is a major launch of a key product line, a foundation for how we will deploy technology in general,” Charles Phillips, president of Oracle, said at the beginning of the presentation.
“We’ve been trying to build a single stack of technology,” Phillips continued. “Any complex system that is not architected or engineered to work together is going to be costly and error-prone.”
The better alternative, he suggested, is a pre-fabricated environment based on open standards, which can be patched and upgraded together with upgrades offered up and down the entire stack. Instead of requiring administrators to cobble together enterprise IT architecture by improvisation, Oracle intends to offer a pre-fabricated systems in its stead that will include, within its infrastructure, servers and storage built from Sun Microsystems components, and monitor and anticipate problems within the environment in real-time.
“We spend 90 percent of our time on maintenance because of a fragmented environment,” Phillips said. “With a complete stack, you can make architectural decisions that are logical.”
Oracle has been developing its middleware in an attempt to solve these IT administration needs, and Fusion Middleware 11g represents the next stage. The platform has been optimized for modern data centers – i.e., virtualization – and includes design to enable intelligent enterprises for real-time information; it also features infrastructure for agile business applications.
The middleware has been designed to solve developers’ needs for building rich Internet applications; allows for application customization and systems consolidation; and enables enterprise team and social computing. It creates a single place for controlling security aspects of the system.
The new middleware has been designed with an eye toward emerging enterprise IT.
“It takes advantage of multicore processors, with new levels of caches, such as L1 and L2 caches,” Phillips said. “We took advantage of 64-bit addressing…this will allow you to address larger spaces in data and memory.”
“We allow you to take snapshots of existing running configurations and make that a virtualized environment,” he added. “These are changes that are fairly current technology that you’re familiar with, and we’re going to enable it going forward.”
Developer tools integrated into Fusion Middleware 11g include common metadata management, application lifecycle management with a complete and open ALM, and a standards-based declarative framework, as well as 160 declarative components that can be dragged-and-dropped in the process of building applications.
Sun Purchase Bolsters Capabilities
Thanks to its April acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle had already built an even more substantial beachhead in the middleware category, allowing it to compete more effectively against IBM’s DB2 database middleware.
On April 20, Oracle announced plans to purchase Sun in a deal worth roughly $7.4 billion, or $9.50 a share, in the process creating a multiarena competitor to IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Cisco Systems and others. The acquisition allows Oracle to expand its end-to-end capabilities while deepening its usage of Java and Solaris, both of which lie at the heart of many of its product lines.
IBM had reportedly been in discussions to purchase Sun during the same period, for an amount rumored to pass $7 billion before talks collapsed in early April. Sun, which was struggling in the midst of a contracting server and data center market atop a massive global recession, was widely seen as needing to sell either itself or its assets to another company or risk collapse.
Despite the recessionary environment, though, Oracle has managed to maintain its market share in a number of key areas, as well as increase its earnings. In the third-quarter fiscal 2009, the company’s earnings per share were up 3 percent versus the same quarter last year, to 26 cents; overall revenues were up 2 percent to $5.5 billion, although quarterly net income was down nearly 1 percent to $1.3 billion.
“We’re competing more effectively across the board in all our product areas,” Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, said in an analyst call concerning those numbers in March 2009.
Apparently not satiated by its giant takeover of Sun, Oracle soon purchased Virtual Iron, a designer of server-based virtualization hardware that would allow it to compete more robustly in the market against VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems.
Previously, Virtual Iron had attempted to challenge VMware and Citrix Systems on its own, mostly by offering its virtualization tools at a lower cost. However, the company never managed to seize any sizable market share, and Oracle evidently saw its technology as a way to buttress Oracle VM, which would then offer Oracle’s customers the option to virtualize within the company’s ecosystem as opposed to relying on a product from VMware or other companies.
Oracle’s acquisition spree represents a continuation of its pattern from 2008, when it purchased 11 companies. Its string of purchases includes mValent, which produces configuration management applications, and Relsys International, which builds drug safety and risk management products.