Blogger: Craig Roth
I got a chance to talk to Oracle yesterday about how they plan to integrate the BEA middleware assets they picked up in their acquisition into their own middleware portfolio. Oracle let it be known that - no surprise - Oracle strategy is constant and BEA integrates into it. Fusion Middleware is the brand and it's all about Fusion in this integration strategy. Dictionary.com defines fusion as "a nuclear reaction in which nuclei combine to form more massive nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy." That seems to be what is happening at Oracle these days as the nucleus of Oracle and the nucleus of BEA (which had already combined with the nucleus from Plumtree) combine to form something pretty massive. And there is certainly a lot of energy being released, so that definition certainly applies.
Still, Oracle assures BEA customers that all products continue under "existing BEA support lifetimes", there's no forced migration, and license costs are grandfathered for existing customers. In fact, some support costs may come down since Oracle policy is to price support as a percentage of net price rather than list, but others could increase or decrease a bit since Tuxedo's pricing tiers get remapped to CPUs.
I won't comment much on development since that isn't my coverage area. I will say that JDeveloper is still the flagship development platform for Oracle. BEA Beehive is just in maintenance and Workshop is a freebie in the Eclipse Pack.
And now, the answer to the portal conundrum I wrote about in my "Four Portals of the Apocalypse" posting when Oracle announced its intention to acquire BEA. For portals, as expected, the winner is WebCenter. It's not that the others are dead, but WebCenter is the "hot" product they want to talk about first, connect everything to, and anoint with all the cool, buzzword-compliant enhancements. Users of the other portals (Oracle Portal, BEA WebLogic Portal, AquaLogic User Interaction aka Plumtree) need to figure out how soon a rewrite is going to be in their future since those products are in the "continue and converge" category (C&C). A C&C portal will keep going forward for existing customers for quite a while (Thomas Kurian publicly stated the lifecycle would be about 9 years), but will not have new customers steered towards it and will eventually be merged into WebCenter.
So, here's my recommended strategy based on which Oracle portal product you're using based on what I know so far. I’ve been told that more detailed migration plans will probably come out in 2-3 months:
- Oracle WebCenter: You lucky dog! You picked the winner. It's a rosy future for you, full of the best piece parts from other portal products, new Enterprise 2.0 functionality, and you'll meet lots of new friends at each annual WebCenter user's group meeting. For a new portal project being planned, WebCenter is the only reasonable choice in the Oracle portfolio unless you're into planned obsolescence.
- Oracle Portal or BEA WebLogic Portal: You're probably OK coasting along as is unless you fall into one of a few categories. If you're really thinking of adding the newest functionality (Enterprise 2.0) and architectural standards (REST, RIA) you'll want to start thinking about migration soon, although Oracle intends to have some WebCenter services plug into WebLogic Portal, Oracle Portal, and ALUI to be leveragable without migrating. And if you are in the rare situation of having a strategic portal with a long lifespan expected ahead of it (5+ years), you'll have to make a reminder for yourself in 2010 or so to start thinking about migration.
- AquaLogic User Interaction: The picture for ALUI users is pretty similar to that of Oracle Portal and BEA WebLogic Portal – it’s in the C&C category so expect it to be supported for quite a while. Still, it’s my personal opinion that Oracle will have a harder time with ALUI since it will be chopped up into more pieces and there are lots of legacy installations with deep customization. Also, ALUI has a .NET side to its heritage. In the Plumtree days they had spent quite a bit of effort on building out .NET support. For example, the Enterprise Web Development Kit (EDK) could be installed with either a Java or .NET (C#) development and there was a .NET version of the EDK is available as a dynamic link library (DLL). The .NET portlet creation capabilities are going to be rebranded as the Oracle WebCenter .Net Application Accelerator.
Oracle is rolling out a few new SKUs (packages) that will help portal owners.
- WebCenter Services combines the WebCenter Framework with some Oracle pieces (BPEL Worklist, their portlet bridge and JSR 168 container) and sprinkles some ALUI and WebLogic Portal pieces in. Ensemble is renamed Oracle Ensemble and put into services SKU and Analytics gets Oracle branding.
- WebCenter Suite has everything in WebCenter services as well as restricted licenses for content, Oracle Presence, BPEL Process Manager, and search. ALUI is renamed WebCenter Interaction and goes in the suite for now, although as of 11g there's nothing in ALUI that they'd recommend for new deployments. AL Collaboration is renamed WebCenter Collaboration and goes in the suite until they can roll out new collaboration in WebCenter 11g.
I was a fan of the BEA Pages and Pathways products, both of which will melt into Fusion Middleware. Pages melts into the WebCenter Framework. It will be part of WebCenter Composer for users to create mashups and its wiki and blog capabilities go into WebCenter Services in the 11g timeframe. Pathways melts into two separate places. Its social search merges into secure enterprise search and the social tagging merges into the 11g foundation.
All in all, this roadmap is pretty complete and as good as owners of Oracle Portal or BEA WebLogic Portal could have hoped for. Owners of complex, customized ALUI portals need to see the writing on the wall and plan to migrate to the new WebCenter model (method TBD by Oracle) or re-architect off the Oracle platform entirely. But one more telling statement about nuclear fusion may shed light on Oracle's strategy of unifying all its pieces under the Fusion umbrella. Wikipedia notes that "Artificial fusion in human enterprises has also been achieved, although not yet completely controlled." Ah, yes, how true. We still have to see how well this bit of fusion winds up being under control over the next few years.