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Oracle Open World: Fusion middleware on hand - users discuss integration

At Oracle Open World, Fusion Middleware 11g emerged as a means for Oracle to integrate its diverse acquisitions.

SAN FRANCISCO – Oracle boasted new speed marks for its application server and database as the company's Fusion Middleware took center stage this week at Oracle World in San Francisco. The company also discussed its new GoldenGate data management component suite, its intention to beef up Java and MySQL research and development, and much more.

The company posted benchmarks claiming an Oracle Database 11g running on Sun SPARC servers had 16 times faster response time than IBM DB2 running on IBM's flagship Power 595 system.

Ever incendiary, company CEO Larry Ellison announced a $10-million prize to anyone who can show that a Sun-Oracle configuration doesn't run at least twice as fast as a comparable setup from IBM.

Appearing with Ellison at the start of the conference was Scott McNealy, Co-Founder of Sun Microsystems. Oracle's purchase this year of Sun and its SPARC hardware line has put Oracle in more direct competition with the larger IBM.

Start in the middle

On the middleware side of the business, Oracle's stack has grown to considerable size. Hasan Rizvi, Oracle's SVP of Fusion Middleware products, discussed some of the key changes from Fusion 10g to Fusion 11g at the conference.

He said the purchase and integration of BEA and its top product, WebLogic, has allowed Oracle to offer a unified runtime environment. The stack also now has a common security architecture that spans across all layers.

Another key addition was GoldenGate, the product of the company's most recent middleware acquisition. This data integration tool provides change data capture and delivery, boosting the stack's business intelligence capabilities.

Oracle agreed in July to acquire real-time data integration software maker GoldenGate Software with the goal to enable better IT performance and enterprise decision making. Such data integration software is gaining greater attention as enterprise users move beyond off-line data warehouses to implement rapid on-line decision systems.

"You have a lot of data you are generating that needs to be accessed in different parts of your system in real-time," said Rizvi. "GoldenGate provides continuous availability of critical systems, real-time data access for reporting, real-time data for BI and zero-downtime upgrades."

Integrating best-of-breed middleware

Integration of acquired best-of-breed software houses has been a recent major effort of Oracle. Users at the conference discussed Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g (still early in its rollout), and its ability to combine diverse best-of-breed systems.

"About six to eight years ago we wanted to get away from having single siloed applications. So we set out on this path to build a more integrated suite of products. We got into the JavaEE world," said John Knoepfle, Senior Enterprise Architect at CCC Information Services, an automobile claims information and processing service.

I don't know what building a smarter world means. We're going to focus on building smarter computers.
Larry Ellison
CEOOracle
CCC developed a "best-of- breed" infrastructure that included WebLogic, OracleDB, Sun LDAP, Vitria Business Process applications and other software. "What we ran into over the years was that we spent a lot of time and money getting those products to integrate. We were spending more of our time just getting the players to work together than building the products we were set to sell," said Knoepfle at an Oracle World panel.

As time went by, CCC, with customers in insurance, auto repair and appraisal sectors, worked to take existing apps and make them more service oriented.

"One of the problems we had was [that] our customers were running a lot of their business through our services. One of the areas we weren't doing too well was tracking transactions from their system through ours," said Knoepfle. He said CCC wanted to make transactions more visible, and that a workflow that included Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) was useful in achieving that goal.

Knoepfle indicated that his group was now redoing processes in BPEL workflows, a special area of focus for Oracle. He added that the team is working to tune some of the more complex transactions in the process.

'Smart' barbs from Ellison

CEO Ellison's pointed barbs are a common part of Oracle World.

Since IBM didn't have an executive on stage to defend their systems, Ellison had the media booth project one of their recent "Building a Smarter World," advertisements – at which he then took a jab.

"I don't know what building a smarter world means," Ellison said. "We're going to focus on building smarter computers."

Ellison also tried to quell concerns that Oracle would not continue to invest in hardware or MySQL, saying that both were important to the company's future and would remain the subject of considerable investment.

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