Oracle + BEA = ?

We use Oracle Application Server as our Java app server at NI. Yeah, yeah, I’ll wait till you stop laughing.

Why not JBoss or WebLogic or WebSphere? Well, a couple reasons. We made the decision five years ago, and JBoss wasn’t solid then, and we needed J2EE support so plain Tomcat wasn’t enough. And we’re a huge Oracle shop and figured that if we were using the same app server on the Web and our ERP tiers there’d be leverage in terms of developer knowledge etc.  Would we make that same decision today? I’m not sure about that (I can hear my team members shouting “hell no” over the cube walls).  Although since we’ve also gone with Oracle’s SOA suite for ESB and BPEL it would be harder to switch. But still tempting – Oracle has done a horrible job in getting their app server supported by other vendors. Every time we buy something and look at the supported app server section of their support matrix, and we ask “What about Oracle’s OAS?” we get expressions of mixed horror and pity from the supplier. (I liked it when the Chinese technical guy from one eComm vendor we had in responded to this question with, “You know, the Tomcat is good, and free! Maybe you use that!”)

Anyway, Oracle bought BEA a while back, which got keen interest from us. Stay with Oracle *and* use a good app server that other people support?  Tempting!  But Oracle’s been farting around for six months without coming out with a statement on what this will mean for the products. Oracle’s finally done a Webcast describing their strategy. Well, it’s half marketing and a celebration of how many million dollars they have. But there’s also a lot of product strategy in there. I’ll sum it up for you because the damn webcast is nearly two hours long, and I don’t want other people to have to waste that much time on it. Unless you like to hear someone go on about “strategic clarity” and “customer profiles,” in which case this is two hours of bliss for you and you should watch it.  Although I also had the stream break a bunch of times while watching.  Who the heck uses RealPlayer any more?  Anyway, here’s a list of the interesting product facts from the Webcast.  Some are marked with their timestamp if you want to fast forward to them and see more.

Interesting Facts From the Oracle-BEA Strategy Roadmap Webcast

1. All the BEA dev community stuff, forums, etc. will be subsumed into Oracle’s. That’s sad, as Oracle’s Web site is one of the worst implemented community sites on the Web. And I’m worried at Oracle’s ability to truly support Fusion Middleware. Still at this late date, if you try to file a Sev1 SR with Oracle about your app server, it asks you “Is your database down?” as the criteria to accept it as Sev1. Middleware is a poor stepbrother on all of their online systems, perhaps the BEA user base will press them into doing better.

2. “Vast majority” of sales, support, and R&D staff from BEA are being retained.

3. Lots more info to come at OpenWorld in September and in some city events (see oracle.com/events/welcomeBEA – closest one to us is Dallas).

4. They say they’re not going to just discontinue anything BEA, they’ll support everything. Three levels to describe the disposition of each product – “Strategic Products” (use BEA and integrate into Fusion), “Continue & Converge” (rewrite it to integrate into Fusion) and “Maintenance” (just supporting it, mainly just stuff BEA had already EOLed).

5. Development Tools (25:00) – Their stated vision is a single complete & integrated dev environment, moving more toward “declarative” (aka visual, aka BPEL) development. So they’re going with JDeveloper, ADF, and the new “Oracle Eclipse Pack” as the “Strategic” items. BEA Workshop’s going into that. BEA was the second largest contributor to Eclipse. Thus by “complete and integrated” they mean “we’ll continue to confusingly support both Eclipse and JDeveloper.” Sigh.

6. App servers (29:30) – and a “transaction processing monitor” for C/C++/COBOL. (huh?) Oh, Tuxedo they mean. The strategic products are: BEA Tuxedo, BEA JRockit/realtime/liquid VM, WebLogic Server, Toplink, and Coherence. OAS/OC4J is listed as “Continue & Converge”, which he explains as putting TopLink into WebLogic. So… OC4J is out, WebLogic is in! Woo! (My team members come and cluster excitedly around my computer at this revelation.) And they’re going to go mainly JRockit for JVM, seems like – they say “We’ll continue to support Sun’s JVM… On Solaris.”

They will continue to support OAS for those poor hapless ebusiness customers, there’s no “forced migration” (but encouraged) there.

I cannot state how happy this is making me.

7. SOA! (39:00) “Now, it’s all hot pluggable, you can mix and match, please don’t hurt me.”

Strategic products: Oracle Data Integrator, Oracle ESB (“unified” with AquaLogic ESB), Oracle BPEL, Complex Event Processor (“integrated” with WebLogic Event Server), and BAM. BEA WL-Integration is “C&C” and Cyclone is EOL. So “all Oracle baby.”

Oh, actually, as he explains “unifying” the ESBs he means that pretty much putting AquaLogic on the Oracle SCA runtime and adding some of the Oracle functions, and the converged result will be a free upgrade for either customer. Nice.

And “integrated” event processor means really doing both, because WebLogic’s is lighter/easier and Oracle’s is heavier/more. (I’m unfamiliar with this space. Hmm.)

We use Oracle’s SOA, so we use their ESB and BPEL products – I think we own the BAM but so far don’t find it all that useful. For us the transition will be an ESB upgrade, which should be a lot less intrusive than an BPEL upgrade.

8. Business Process Management. Why is this listed different from SOA/BPEL? They get into depth on system-centric (e.g. order to cash), human-centric, document-centric (CMS), and decision-centric processes but say they want one product that will do them all. He describes some mutant hybrid of Oracle BPA designer, BEA BPM designer, “converged” Oracle/AquaLogic BPM, Oracle Document Capture & Imaging, Oracle Business Rules, Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (BAM), and WebCenter portal for viewing. This is going to be a mess, and I’ll bet their “integration” here has 5 years to go before being worthy of the name.

9. Enterprise 2.0 and Portals. IMO Oracle “gets” Web 2.0 less than any of the big tech companies, so let’s see what they have to say. They want one process to develop rich media, RIAs, enterprise portals, and social computing, with unified search and content management.

(You need to thank me for not having to listen to the labored ten minute “Web 2.0” scenario walkthrough where people use “forums” and “tags” and “RSS” other newfangled things…)

Strategic

  • Oracle Universal Content Management for CM. A big “bah” from me here.
  • Oracle WebCenter Framework. Portal, the least valuable part of any suite. Oracle’s been trying to shove Portal down our throats for 5 years. We’ve given in and done POCs three times, and each time it’s collapsed under its own weight.
  • WebCenter Spaces & Suite. I’m sure their solution here is just lovely, since I’ve never heard of it.
  • BEA Ensemble and Pathways – light-weight REST portal assembly. Hmmm, maybe should look at this. I see it’s marketed as a mashup tool though, which isn’t a good sign.

C&C

  • BEA WL-Portal
  • BEA AL-User Interaction

So in other words “we haven’t been a player in Web 2.0 and aren’t about to start.” OK, fair enough.

10. Identity Management (1:08:00). We’ve been looking at this product suite; I’m not sure it’s the best SSO solution out there but for someone with Oracle ERP it’s mighty compelling. They’ve come a long way from the old DB-based OID/SSO crap they tried to sell a couple years ago.

Strategic products:

  • OID (Oracle’s LDAP)
  • Oracle Identity Manager (account provisioning)
  • Oracle Role Manager (“business role” provisioning)
  • Oracle Access Manager (SSO)
  • Oracle Adaptive Access Manager (risk-based strong authentication)
  • BEA AL-Enterprise Security (authorization centralization)
  • Oracle Identity Federation

Aka “Give us one meeeeeeellion dollars.” That’s the big problem with all this, you pretty much have to go all in on it and it needs a large team and lots of money to implement.

11. Systems Management (1:13:00). They even play in this space? Oh, they mean Enterprise Manager (sigh).

Strategic Products:

  • EM Provisioning Pack (currently we just turn EM off on OAS, it’s worthless)
  • EM Configuration Pack, BEA Guardian integrated. We should look at this, currently doing builds, refreshes, etc. is a pain.
  • EM Diagnostics Pack – adding App Diagnostics for Java and JRockit Mission Control. So far EM’s Java app management is a joke, but perhaps the addition of these two (mainly MC) will help, they should be good.
  • EM Management Pack for SOA (we looked at this and it’s worthless)
  • EM Management Pack for Identity
  • EM Management Pack for BI

12. SOA Governance (1:18:00). Promoting reuse/portfolioing, operational control/policy. Ah, it’s always better to buy expensive software than to think for five damn minutes about a process. But I’m not bitter.

  • BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Repository (portfolio)
  • Oracle Service Registry (UDDI), “partnership with HP” he says. ?
  • OWSM (Web service security)
  • EM Service Level Management Pack (bah)
  • EM SOA Management Pack (worthless, see above)

13. Service Delivery Platform (1:23). Weird term for verticals, mainly telecom. I hesitate to even try to describe this stuff but for some reason you might use Oracle to deliver residential VOIP or PBX technology. If you’re insane. They are uptaking the WebLogic SIP server, FYI.

Summary (1:28). They still are looking at Fusion Middleware as the overall suite and taking an integration approach. No change to the Fusion adoption strategy as a result, and some BEA bits are already certified by Oracle Applications. The new technologies should be ‘transparent’ to Apps customers, or are external addons. There is no forced migration to WebLogic for Oracle Apps, but it will be an option. In other words, don’t get scared. (Not that we feel forced to upgrade to anything with our Oracle Apps install… The risk of upgrade keeps us on the oldest versions possible.)

Pricing is undergoing an upheaval, supposed to be “simplified” – in some cases it is, like single global pricing, but in some cases not, like going to their weird CPU/named user scheme.

They are rebranding and rereleasing the BEA products as 10gR3. and certifying everything under the BEA variant of 10gR3, and then the 11gR1/R2 will be more of a merge of the two branches.

And that’s it!  Overall positive from my point of view.

Would you like to know more?

2 Comments

Filed under General, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Oracle + BEA = ?

  1. Raj

    Do you know the licensing terms for using weblogic?
    We were told we need to buy the licenses for weblogic again!!! Though we are paying for support (which should give us free upgrades), they are saying since weblogic has many new good features, you need to pay again. When asked about what about upgrades to OAS, if we don’t want to pay, he said it’ll be supported for 7 years and we have to stay with J2EE forever.

    • I was afraid of that. I think we took care of that problem explicitly in our enterprise agreement when we renewed last year, because we could see that writing on the wall. We still discuss whether we should just go to tomcat/JBoss and not have to mess with it from time to time.

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