The Benefits of Oracle’s 32-year Commitment to Industry Standards
by David Baum, November 2009
Today’s most successful software architectures reflect the IT industry’s push toward open standards. Consider the role the internet plays in business. People the world over can connect to this worldwide network thanks to the existence of open, nonproprietary standards such as CGI, HTML, HTTP, and Java. Application software vendors such as Oracle, working with open source developers and standards bodies, are collaborating to bring this same degree of interoperability to enterprise software.
Don Deutsch, vice president for standards, strategy, and architecture at Oracle, believes that the prevalence of open standards is due to more than their use on the consumer internet. Businesses and governments, as well as consumers, have continually expressed their preference for open, flexible, and extensible information systems. “Open standards protect customer investments by reducing vendor lock-in,” Deutsch states. “Building enterprise software around standard interfaces enables customers to easily extend those systems as their businesses evolve—without major retooling.”
According to Deutsch, Oracle has made a significant commitment to advancing open, interoperable standards across the entire Oracle product family. Hundreds of Oracle engineers work in more than 65 standards-setting forums in nearly 300 technical working groups to keep the Oracle products extensible and compatible with prevailing industry standards.
Oracle also contributes to many open source projects, and hundreds of Oracle engineers are part of open source communities, developing code that is freely available in open source versions. In addition, Oracle develops and offers open source products such as Oracle Berkeley DB, currently processing transactions in more than 200 million deployments around the world.
Defining Terms, Counting Costs
Historically, the primary motivation for adopting standards-based software—and, to a certain extent, for adopting open source software products—has been to minimize integration costs and avoid vendor lock-in. Deutsch cautions, “Unless the underlying technology fully supports open standards for all interoperability purposes, the integration of these technologies with the existing and future technical infrastructure will be more difficult and could create new lock-in effects.” Whether an organization selects open source or conventional software, the best value comes through optimizing developer productivity, providing a reliable and scalable infrastructure, and creating an open, extensible platform for the future.
Oracle realized the value of promoting standards in the 1970s while working to establish open standards for Structured Query Language (SQL), the foundation of Oracle Database. “We’ve been in the forefront of developing open standards,” says Deutsch. “Oracle’s core database has always been based on SQL, and our entire middle tier is built on Java. We’ve been involved with the Java development process since its inception. It’s extremely important technology for us.”
Many other standards underpin the Oracle product family, particularly related to service-oriented architecture (SOA) and service component architecture (SCA). SOA includes a set of broadly accepted standards for constructing modular software using service-oriented principles. SCA provides a framework for creating composite applications using a variety of technologies, languages, frameworks, transports, and protocols.
At the same time, Oracle remains committed to open source software, as reflected in the significant resources it devotes to developing, testing, optimizing, and supporting open source technologies. The open source Linux operating system is a great example. Oracle’s long-standing commitment to Linux started when Oracle released the industry’s first commercial database on Linux in 1998, and that leadership continues today. “We run much of our installed base on Linux, and we regularly deploy our products into open source environments,” says Deutsch.
Oracle’s acquisition of numerous companies over the last 30 years proves that adhering to standards reduces development costs, minimizes integration risks, and accelerates project lifecycles. “When Oracle evaluates an acquisition with the intention of acquiring a third-party product, we avoid proprietary technologies due to the high cost of integration,” Deutsch says.
Clearly, acquiring a software product or application platform based on open standards reduces the cost of deploying, integrating, and enhancing that software over time, and investing in an architecture that allows applications from multiple vendors to interoperate leads to big savings down the road.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of using open standards,” Deutsch notes. “Our preference is to allow open source software and conventional software to coexist. We support and contribute to open source, we incorporate it into our products where it makes sense, and we use it in our business.”
“It’s an incredibly diverse technology environment out there,” Deutsch adds, “but open standards help ensure that all the components will fit together.”