Oracle Sets Sights on SOAs

Aims to take the strain out of users' service-oriented architecture deployments with new software

September 20, 2005

3 Min Read
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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).In a bid to convince users that SOA deployments are not as complicated as they may appear, Oracle offers a new Enterprise Service Bus as part of Application Server 10g release 3. The Enterprise Service Bus, which provides routing and messaging between applications and IT systems, is essentially the software backbone of the SOA.

According to Oracle, users can “attach any system,” to the new Service Bus, via more than 250 application adapters. The vendor claims the Service Bus can also be used to connect different services together without having to modify code.

Oracle is not the only vendor touting user-friendly SOA software. Last week, IBM also introduced a new service bus for its WebSphere middleware platform, with the aim of integrating Web applications and services. IBM also introduced WebSphere Process Server software powered by the Enterprise Service Bus, which it claims can simplify the movement of information between different applications in an SOA.

But technology is only part of the equation. IBM is looking to woo users by flexing its services muscles. Last week, the vendor added three new offerings from its IBM Global Services division which is linked to SOAs. These include services to track SOA projects and measure performance.

Oracle, which does not have an IBM Global Services-style organization to fall back on, is looking to play up new Java capabilities within its software. Today, as part of its Application Server 10g release, the vendor added support for Java 5.0 and J2EE 1.4. This could be a shrewd move: Java is viewed as critical for developing Web-based services and SOAs (see BEA Brushes Tuxedo For SOAs).SOA vendors are looking to link up with as many technology partners as possible. Oracle is planning to integrate its new Application Server software with more than 128 products from different vendors. These include Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) firewalls, F5 Networks Inc.’s (Nasdaq: FFIV) Big-IP, Cisco Systems Inc.’s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Local Director, and -- (drumroll) -- IBM WebSphere.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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