The Executive Summary on Oracle's Fusion 11G


Unless you've been living in a hole this week-or fighting a revolution-you probably heard about Oracle's release of Fusion 11g, its middleware offering. Fusion11g is all over the tech press, and analysts everywhere are tossing in their two cents, having already been given the rundown during a special analyst debriefing Oracle hosted recently.

Since I'm not an analyst, I don't have a "take" for you. But what I do have is a lot of time to cull through it and give you a quick debriefing on the core facts and opinions, a sort of "Fusion 11g Cliff Notes for Executives," if you like. You can skim it and then spend the rest of your Fourth of July weekend doing something better, like golfing with your buddies, holding a cookout, or figuring out SOA.


Fact 1. Fusion 11g is an upgrade, not a new product release. As Silicon.com explains, Fusion Middleware is basically what Oracle calls "products that fall outside its main database management and application product lines." So, 11g updates five Oracle Fusion Middleware products-its SOA Suite, WebLogic Suite, WebCenter Suite, Identity Management and Oracle Development Tools for Fusion Middleware.

Fact 2: Most of these were obtained through acquisition-58 in the past five and a half years, according to Silicon.com. The star of this release, though, is BEA's WebLogic application server, which Oracle bought last year. Oracle's strategy has been to acquire best-of-breed products and integrate them. Therefore, the real value proposition here, according to Oracle, is a tightly integrated suite of middleware products.

What Analysts Say: Tony Bear, an analyst with Ovum, says the BEA integration is really the main event here in this release:


"There are a lot of other pieces to this announcement, but without WebLogic, Fusion would essentially be a donut. WebLogic is a major platform and it fills that hole in the Fusion stack. This is what allows Oracle to broaden the reach of its Fusion Middleware. It gives them the critical mass to bring all these other pieces forward."


Fact 3: What's new in this release, again according to Silicon.com:


  • More levels of automation, thanks to WebLogic
  • A pre-built social networking service called WebCenter Spaces, plus reusable service components that you can use to add services such as social networking or productivity tools
  • Improved scalability, thanks to ActiveCache
  • Improved reliability, due to GridLink for Oracle Real Application Clusters and Enterprise Grid Messaging
  • Oracle Composer, a browser-based tool for customizing Web sites
  • Oracle Development Tools, which will help integrate other Oracle development tools such as JDeveloper, Oracle Application Development Framework and Oracle TopLink into the rest of the stack


What Analysts Say: Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst with Interarbor Solutions, was impressed, saying Fusion 11g is more than middleware. All that's missing, in his view, is the cloud offering:


"Of the still standing middleware field-IBM, Microsoft, Software AG, Red Hat/JBoss, Progress, TIBCO, SAP and Sybase-only a few will be both able to get the "anyware" in terms of product breadth and of cloud delivery. ...Nothing but the best will do, of course. Oracle has just about everything else in place, that's abundantly clear."

Others take issue with this notion of "anyware" - see Fact 6.

Fact 4: 11g is based on open standards, which should support interoperatability with third-party products.

What Analysts Say: Anne Thomas Manes, who attended Oracle's analyst briefing, said Oracle has promised a complete, integrated and standards-based solution, where you can plug in "best-of-breed" third-party offerings. But it's hard to have both integration and 'pluggability," she warns:


"But if you take advantage of the "hot-pluggability" feature, you break the "integrated" benefits of the environment, which derive from the common development and management systems (JDeveloper and Enterprise Manager). But Oracle has deliberately limited the scope of these products to work only with Oracle-supplied platform components."

Fact 5: You won't be rushed to upgrade from 10g to 11g, according to Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president of Fusion Middleware products-who promises, nonetheless, that Oracle's made upgrading easy and you'll want to upgrade when you see what it can do.

What Analysts Say: Upgrade - yeah, right. Forrester Research analyst John Rymer told CIO.com 11g is "not just an upgrade," adding that there are "very substantial changes and progress in productivity."


Fact 6: Oracle wants 11G to be in part of an integrated stack - with infrastructure at the base, then the database layer, the middleware layer and the application layer on top, according to Oracle's President Charles Phillips. Silicon.com quotes Phillips as saying, at the Washington unveiling, "What we have been trying to do is build a single stack of technology to simplify computing."

What Analysts Say: Oracle's plans for an integrated stack have drawn the most criticism from competitors and analysts, who warn companies against embracing one vendor's solution. Some even compared Oracle's one-stack to to Sauron's One Ring to Rule Them All and the Death Star.

In particular, the Burton Group took a strong stand against the idea that enterprise IT should embrace the homegeneity offered by Oracle or any other vendor. Warns Manes:


"As alluring as the one-stop shopping strategy is, organizations must learn to just say 'no.' The reality is that no one has an entirely homogeneous environment. ... A better solution is a management strategy that embraces diversity. Diversity in IT systems is a fact of life."


I can't promise you'll be ready for the Fusion 11g final - you really should study more for that - but hopefully, you've got the big-picture basics on Fusion 11g. Now, for those of you in the U.S. celebrating the Fourth of July - go enjoy your independence!