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Oracle Sets Sights on SOAs

With users wrestling with the reality of deploying service-oriented architectures (SOAs), big-name middleware vendors are frantically overhauling their products in an attempt to ease firms passage to the new platforms.

The latest is Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), which announced a new version of its Fusion middleware designed for the creation and maintenance of SOAs (see Oracle Unveils Fusion and Oracle Generates Support ). This follows IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which announced plans to enhance its own WebSphere middleware for SOAs last week (see IBM Intros SOA ).

The purpose of an SOA is to let users run services in the form of application software across different computing environments -- a kind of "platform of platforms." An SOA theoretically brings some much-needed agility to businesses groaning under the strain of tightly coupled services and systems. Analyst firm Gartner Inc. predicts that, by 2008, most application revenue will come from products conforming to an SOA.

Despite the potential advantages, there is a sense in some quarters that SOAs are still more about vendor hype than user success stories. Analyst firm Burton Group, for example, recently cited both a lack of best-practice models and standards issues as major hurdles in the path of the technology. Clearly, deploying an SOA is not straightforward (SOAs: Approach With Caution).

The onus is now firmly on the vendors to ease users onto a platform of platforms. Oracle is looking to achieve this with enhancements to its Application Server 10g software, which supports SOAs based on its Fusion middleware (see Oracle Intros App Server).

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