Oracle Readies Next Step in AIA Strategy

The rollout in February of Oracle's Foundation Pack could blur the line between Fusion Middleware and the new application integration platform.

Oracle has big plans for its Application Integration Architecture.

Officials with the software vendor say the platform will eventually be a set of development standards and methodologies for Oracle, its customers and its partners. It also will be a way to efficiently bring together the many disparate applications under Oracle's ever-expanding umbrella-and outside the Oracle pantheon, as well-in a way that Oracle's Fusion Middleware hasn't been able to do.

When Oracle announced AIA (Application Integration Architecture) at its OAUG (Oracle Applications Users Group) user conference in April 2007, the company first released a number of Process Integration Packs-distinct integrations between Oracle applications based on a specific business process, like the opportunity-to-quote process between Siebel CRM On Demand and Oracle E-Business Suite.

A little more than six months later, at its OpenWorld conference in November, Oracle announced the AIA Foundation Pack, the enterprise business objects, services, SOA [service-oriented architecture] governance tools and reference architecture that enable customers and partners to utilize AIA to integrate processes and build process-based composite applications.

Fast forward to February: Oracle is scheduled to release its Foundation Pack "any day now," according to Paco Aubrejuan, vice president of application strategy at Oracle. However, the introduction of the Foundation Pack will bring a key question about AIA: Is it a product that can fundamentally change the way customers and partners build process integrations-and the way applications are developed within Oracle, as Aubrejuan suggests-or is it just another name for Fusion Middleware?

The answer may lie somewhere in the middle.

According to Oracle documents, the Foundation Pack provides users with a "proven reference architecture and reusable Web services allowing you to create integrations across any applications, leveraging a standards based, service-oriented architecture." Minus the Web services, which Oracle had promised several years ago, the Foundation Pack could well describe Fusion Middleware. But there is a big difference between it and AIA, according to Aubrejuan.

"Fusion Middleware is absolutely the tool we use in AIA but just having a BPEL [Business Process Execution Language] engine doesn't mean the applications we deliver work together," Aubrejuan said. "You can code logic in BPEL but [unless there is] a common definition for -order,' you haven't abstracted any of that away. AIA is how we define objects, how to extend objects, what technology we use to do certain functions between applications. We're changing fundamentally how the best-of-breed [applications] work. The important thing is not that we have best-of-breed, but that our customers have them."