Oracle has a new application architecture platform that the company says will go a long way toward bridging the gap between Oracle and third-party applications. But you have to wonder whether this is indeed a good faith attempt at opening up, considering Oracle's past record in application integration consists primarily of buying up rival software firms and re-engineering their products to fit the Oracle mold.
The company's new Application Integration Architecture features the commonly used technique of integration packs, dubbed Process Integration Packs in Oracle-speak, that basically bring together Oracle's ERP and CRM suites with third-party systems. Oracle says it goes one better by using the BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) standard to forge connections with business objects. As long as you can work with business objects, you can work with Oracle.
The strategy marks the continuation of Oracle's attempt to foster integration at the application level, rather than the systems or platform level, according to some observers.
Ultimately, all the big software giants like Oracle, Microsoft and SAP face the dilemma of opening up to a wider array of third-party applications while still remaining dominant with their own sets of integrated suites. Done right, it could set the pace of software innovation for the next decade. Done wrong, they'll be on the outside looking in as more nimble open source providers eat their lunch.