Two days ago, Oracle hosted a webcast in which it announced how it will integrate BEA and its products into Fusion Middleware. While the webcast answered many questions about where Oracle plans to take BEA products over the next several years, it raised fresh questions about the implications of Oracle’s strategy for JD Edwards users.

To get a sense of what those questions might be, let’s dive into the announcement itself to analyze Oracle’s product roadmap. During the webcast, Oracle Senior VP Thomas Kurian explained that the vendor has divided BEA’s products into three groups.

  • Strategic — These products will become Oracle’s lead offerings in their categories. In some cases, this means that Oracle will merge its own products into corresponding BEA products over the next 12 to 18 months. Kurian stressed, however, that there will be no forced migrations from the merged products to BEA offerings.
  • Continue and converge — These products have features that Oracle wants to include in its middleware stack. As a result, Oracle will incrementally redesign these products so that they can integrate with Oracle Fusion Middleware. It will also support the current releases of these products for at least nine years.
  • Maintenance — These products were already declared by BEA prior to the acquisition to be at the ends of their lives. Oracle will honor BEA’s maintenance contracts on these products by supporting them for at least five years.

Kurian then stepped through each middleware category, assigned BEA products in each category to the three groups, and explained Oracle’s plans for bringing BEA into the Fusion Middleware fold. Here are the highlights of what he said by product category.

Development Tools. Unsurprisingly, Oracle JDeveloper will remain the key development environment. However, BEA Workshop is a “continue and converge” product that Oracle will repackage as an Eclipse add-on to JDeveloper. Indeed, Workshop will be part of a new offering called the Oracle Eclipse Pack that will ship with JDeveloper at no extra charge.

Application servers and transaction processing. In this category, Oracle gave BEA the upper hand. In a much-anticipated move, the company made BEA Tuxedo its strategic offering for managing transaction processing systems running on C, C++, and COBOL. The software giant also named BEA WebLogic Server its strategic Java application server. While Oracle will continue to enhance and support its own application server, WebLogic will take its place within Fusion Middleware packages. In addition, BEA JRockit will be Oracle’s strategic Java Virtual Machine. However, Oracle will continue to certify Fusion Middleware on its old JVM as well as JVMs from other vendors.

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) products. Oracle announced that it will merge its ESB product with BEA AquaLogic Service Bus to create a new product called Oracle Service Bus. Customers of both products will receive upgrades to the unified offering. Oracle’s BPEL Process Manager will continue to be the strategic platform for process orchestration. However, BEA WebLogic Integration was named a “continue and converge” product that will eventually be folded into BPEL Process Manager.

Business Process Management. In an unexpected move, Oracle declared that it will unify its Business Process Automation (BPA) Designer tool with BEA AquaLogic BPM Designer. It will also unify the underlying BPM runtime engines from both companies. The unified offering will replace its existing BPM Suite.

Enterprise 2.0 and Portals. In this category, Oracle WebCenter will remain the strategic portal platform. However, BEA WebLogic Portal was dubbed a “continue and converge” product that will evolve to take advantage of components within Oracle WebCenter Framework. In addition, Oracle will integrate BEA’s tool that lets users create their own portals — AquaLogic-User Interaction — with Oracle WebCenter Spaces & Suite.

There is much more to what Kurian said than I can possibly summarize here, so I would encourage readers to visit Oracle’s new web site that describes its middleware product roadmap. The site features podcasts on every middleware category and links to other sites that provide further information. You may also want to watch the replay of the July 1 webcast if you have 90 minutes to spare. If you have further questions, consider attending one of the BEA Welcome Events that Oracle is hosting in more than 70 cities over the coming weeks.

Implications for JD Edwards Customers

While BEA products are not common features in companies that use JD Edwards World, a significant number of EnterpriseOne customers use them. Those that do will likely be quite pleased with Oracle’s middleware roadmap. That roadmap puts WebLogic Server and Tuxedo in strategic positions while providing ongoing enhancements for BEA Workshop, WebLogic Portal, and several AquaLogic products.

At the same time, Oracle’s roadmap raises questions for EnterpriseOne users who use or are contemplating the use of Fusion Middleware. These questions include:

  • How will the new roadmap affect the products that Oracle offers in its “red stack” Technology Foundation for EnterpriseOne? For instance, will WebLogic Server replace Oracle Application Server?
  • If the Technology Foundation does get a “BEA injection”, what upgrade paths will Oracle offer to current license holders? How long will they receive support for their existing Technology Foundation products, and on what EnterpriseOne Tools releases?
  • What technical and business issues will red stack users need to take into consideration when deciding if and/or when to upgrade to Technology Foundation releases that contain BEA components?
  • How, if at all, will any changes to the Oracle Technology Foundation affect its pricing, packaging, and support?

While we do not yet have answers to these and other questions, I can assure you that we are working to get them. Be on the lookout for a future article that will help you determine what the Oracle/BEA product roadmap means for your corporate middleware strategy.