At Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this week, attendees have been getting their first real glimpse of how the respective capabilities of service-oriented architecture (SOA), grid computing, and Web 2.0 have been tightly integrated into Oracle's Fusion Middleware -- a standards-based platform for enabling enterprises to develop, deploy, and manage business applications on the Internet.
Fusion will enable the deployment of new service-oriented applications to Web-enabled legacy systems, to integrate those applications with each other, and to build more flexible business processes, said Oracle senior vice president of server technologies Thomas Kurian. "It will truly transform the way businesses of all sizes create and distribute modern applications," he predicted.
Social Networking for Enterprises
Through Fusion, already familiar social-networking capabilities -- such as wikis, blogs, and RSS feeds -- are expected to find their way into enterprise applications in a big way.
"What social networking is really all about is allowing people to interact with each other and to do it outside of the medium of e-mail, which is certainly great for one-to-one communication but much more cumbersome from one to many," noted senior vice president of applications Ed Abbo.
Oracle's goal is to enable business customers to likewise "form communities as well as propose, execute, and move their ideas forward," Abbo explained.
Oracle Database -- a key Fusion component -- will store Web 2.0 content in XML as well as publish structured and unstructured database content as RSS feeds. Yet another Fusion stack member, called Oracle Applications, will enable Web 2.0 capabilities to become embedded right into Oracle's existing software.
With Fusion, tools such as Google Gadgets and Yahoo Widgets can be used to build mini desktop applications that contain useful enterprise data. "The application strategy itself is really centered on providing customers with a choice of what platforms and releases to be on, and when to upgrade, rather than forcing them to upgrade like other software vendors do," Abbo said.
In tandem with fine-tuning Fusion, Oracle has been seeking out ways to apply I.T. for the purpose of speeding the pace of process innovation. Along the way, the software-maker has been identifying the key business processes for each industry and then building out the required process integration. In telecommunications, for example, product introductions form one of the key processes.
"This particular process relies on us on being able to quickly define a product or bundle in the front office, have it registered in the billing system, have it registered in the activation system and the provisioning system, and do that within a short period of time," Abbo explained. "So we have been working with many of our customers in the telecommunications space to implement this, and take the product cycle down from nine months to weeks and days and hours, all through this process integration."
Although Fusion is not slated for release until sometime next year, Oracle said it already has completed four beta-testing cycles with key clients and that early beta testers are seeing significant benefits from some of the planned new product functionality and enhanced integration across the products.
Qualcomm, for one, has been seeing an increased demand for Web 2.0 functionality and rich application user experiences, noted senior I.T. manager Kirk Ferguson. "With the planned Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g components and Web 2.0 features, we will be able to meet that demand," Ferguson said.