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Oracle SOA Suite

In November we began our quest to find the ultimate ESB (enterprise service bus) suite by issuing an invitation to a dozen vendors. Eight took us up on our challenge and sent software to our Green Bay, Wis., business applications lab, home of our fictional widget maker, NWC Inc.
Over the ensuing weeks, we posted regular updates from Lori MacVittie in NWC's Real-World Labs. We also made available our vendor invites, test plan and other materials from the testing process. Next week rolled out the individual product evaluations from our ESB vendor participants, including BEA, Cape Clear, Fiorano, IBM, Oracle, Sonic Software, Software AG and TIBCO.
Now, see the final results as we reveal our Editor's Choice winner and post our market analysis and Interactive Report Card so you can build your own ESB shortlist.

Oracle has spent several years acquiring technology, and just as long putting the pieces together into a cohesive offering--including Collaxa for BPEL, Oblix for WS-Security and WS-Management, and branded Systinet BSR 6.0 for its registry/repository. Toss in a rules engine and the result is SOA Suite, a nearly seamlessly integrated set of tools designed to enable SOA implementations in the enterprise.

The primary component in SOA Suite is Oracle's BPEL PM 10.1.2. SOA Suite is a J2EE offering that can be deployed in a number of containers, including IBM's WebSphere, BEA Systems' WebLogic, JBoss and OracleAS. By default, the suite installs in an OracleAS container with an embedded OracleLite meta-data repository.

SOA Suite differs from most of the other products we tested in that all of its instances of a service orchestration are technically stateless, with session information stored in the repository. Although OracleLite is the default repository, we could (thankfully) configure SOA Suite to use an enterprise-class RDBMS, such as DB2, SQL Server or, of course, Oracle. Instances of SOA Suite do not communicate, so we couldn't designate backup nodes as we could with Fiorano's product, but because all state information is stored in a shared repository, instances should be able to re-create themselves, regardless of which node they were instantiated on. Failover requires that load balancing be configured at the container level, or that you use an external, hardware load balancer such as those from F5 Networks or Citrix. Failover using BEA AquaLogic is accomplished using WebLogic Server clustering technology, while Cape Clear relies on the clustering capabilities of the J2EE enterprise service platform in which it is deployed, with some routing-based failover available at the ESB layer--provided the container handling the routing isn't the one that fails, of course. We prefer to see failover at the ESB layer, because it knows about services.

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