COMMENT: In The Field
Oracle Fusion Propels the FutureBy Ari Kaplan
Middleware platform, tools, and application strategy simplify development and integration.
Oracle Fusion Middleware represents a US$1 billion business for Oracle and is the fastest-growing middleware platform around. The platform's development paradigm has been created with scalable, extensible applications in mind, and Oracle Fusion Applications will unify best-of-business capabilities from all Oracle Applications in a suite delivered on Oracle Fusion Middleware. Here's a look at what you need to know now to plan for Oracle Fusion in your future.
The Oracle Fusion Middleware tools use Web services; BPEL; Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE); and service-oriented architecture (SOA) for flexibility, ease of application development, and simplified integration. For example, your human resources department may be using Oracle's Siebel and Oracle's PeopleSoft applications on an Oracle database. Oracle Fusion Middleware can tie all these pieces together with a simple interface.
Oracle Fusion Middleware tools include components for solving real-world problems. Suppose that you want to enable Web-based requests for an application, to support remote offices or a new customer demographic. Oracle Application Server tools can make the connection from Web interface to Oracle back-end applications.
Mergers and acquisitions, as well as partnerships and consolidations, are common these days. When two business entities begin interoperating, tremendous challenges to operational security—such as figuring out who has access to what applications and to which data—must be overcome. Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite can untangle the situation, offering control of security, authentication, single sign-on, and other details.
Sometimes you want to enable data exchange, such as when business partners need to exchange information. Oracle SOA Suite provides a standards-based SOA platform that supports policy management and business workflow needs. Data can flow back and forth, with the right constraints and to the right people.
By now you've surely heard about Web 2.0. Many sites offer opportunities to collaborate online, post comments, use "wiki" knowledgebases, or view interactive streaming video. These capabilities can give a company a competitive edge in attracting interest in products and services—and in doing real business transactions online.
To get such offerings up and running quickly, Oracle Fusion Middleware has the new Oracle WebCenter, which includes tools for customer management, business intelligence, and workflow, all with attractive Web-oriented interfaces and facilities.
Data management is still important. Oracle Data Integrator, based on technology acquired from Sunopsis, supports integrating and managing data. Offering functions to better extract, transform, and load data, it is ideal for populating data warehouses and other structures.
Many applications leverage both structured and unstructured information. The amount of unstructured business content is exploding—with everything from documents, Web sites, graphics, and video to records, e-mail, reports, and images of scanned documents. Oracle Content Management lets organizations capture, manage, secure, and apply disposition rules and deliver this content to users and applications in the right format (HTML, PDF, XML, RSS, and so on).
Oracle Fusion Middleware supports development features that simplify creating and integrating existing applications now, while setting the stage for future changes. Its "hot-pluggable" architecture connects not just to Oracle databases but also to other databases that might also be in your stack. Your Tivoli and OpenView applications will also connect across Oracle Fusion Middleware, as will your Cognos and other reporting and analysis applications.
Creating interfaces for user platforms is also part of Oracle Fusion Middleware. Whether your people use Microsoft Office or a BlackBerry, they can access the data, unstructured content, and applications they need. Adding GPS systems to a fleet of vehicles? Oracle Fusion Middleware has the technology to handle that.
Whereas Oracle Fusion Middleware can solve a lot of your problems now, it also delivers major value in providing a path to the future and to Oracle Fusion Applications. Oracle will be unveiling new Oracle Fusion-based versions of its flagship applications, and enterprises that already incorporate Oracle Fusion Middleware in their infrastructure will be better positioned to implement these new versions. The future is now.
Ari Kaplan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) and a senior consultant at Datalink. He founded Expand Beyond Corporation, a leader in mobile IT software. He has been involved in Oracle technology since 1992.