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Oracle Focuses on Grid, Developer Tools

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle's harnessing the power of the grid.

Today here at Oracle OpenWorld 2008 at the Moscone Convention Center, the company unveiled a revamped edition of BEA's WebLogic application server designed for the latest trends in application development and deployment: virtualization, resource consolidation and a focus on efficiency.

The new Oracle WebLogic Application Grid -- built in part on technology acquired in Oracle's earlier $8.5 billion buy of BEA -- enables enterprises to pool computers and storage together, as well as to deploy different applications together and in virtualized environments. The upshot is that switching to a grid infrastructure can help cut costs, better use power and capacity and more effectively scale applications, according to Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle Middleware Fusion.

In traditional application environment, each application run only on its own app server and dedicated hardware, resulting in what Kurian called "significant excess hardware capacity, cost, inefficiency, a single point of hardware failure and also inefficient utilization when scaling up or scaling out."

The Application Grid will change all this, (NASDAQ: ORCL) Oracle promises. As it turns out, the Grid is also a handy gateway for Oracle to push its middleware offerings.

On top of the WebLogic Application Grid, Oracle will "build open and best of breed middleware for [service oriented architecture (SOA)], transaction processing, content management, business intelligence, user interaction with identity management and a common way to manage these," Kurian said.

The components of Oracle Application Grid are JRocket, a high-speed Java virtual machine that works with a hypervisor, enabling IT to deploy applications in a virtualized environment. It also includes Oracle WebLogic Server, which is built on top of JRocket, and Coherence data management and caching technology for computing clusters, which "can pre-fetch data into the in-memory data grid" for better performance and throughput," Kurian said.

Three major factors are bringing about changes in application development, Kurian said. First, the technology infrastructure on which enterprise applications are being built are evolving, thanks to clusters, the maturation of virtualization technology and the emergence of grids or clouds.

Second, the programming model is also evolving, with the maturation of Java 2 Enterprise Edition, SOA and business process modeling technology, and with the advent of Web 2.0 and AJAX. Third, the management infrastructure is shifting, with "the systems, and the way users access these systems, changing," Kurian said.

Development and identity

Kurian announced that Oracle would "very shortly" make its JDeveloper 11g integrated developer environment (IDE) available, although the final release is now available on the company's Web site.

In conjunction with JDeveloper 11g, Kurian unveiled Oracle Application Lifecycle Management, which now gives developers the ability to "define a project, develop it, collaborate with other developers as you build your application, check source control, test it and get complete code coverage." This works with tools from other vendors so users "can work with their favorite tools," Kurian added.

He also unveiled a new version of Oracle's Application Development Framework and Oracle Fusion Desktop & Mobile, which enable user to centralize business logic but render out the client to multiple mobile clients. "We've recognized that many users are accessing applications through e-mail, Microsoft Office Desktop and a variety of mobile clients," he explained.

In the identity management space, Kurian unveiled Oracle Entitlements Server 10g Release 3, the result of enhancements to the BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Server following Oracle's purchase of BEA. The enhancements "let you authorize the user according to his role, standardize the roles and push out policies to applications," Kurian said.

Oracle also showed off Identity Analytics, which "lets you see what systems people are trying to access, their entitlements and authorizations, and lets you correlate these and find out where breaches are occurring," Kurian said. These moves build on Oracle's push over the past few years to enhance its identity management offerings.

In addition, Oracle enhanced its BPEL Process Manager to support systems-centric workflow management, include complex event processing, and provide business activity monitoring. This was created from the Business Process Execution Language Server that Oracle acquired from Collaxa, which it purchased in 2004.