Middleware


Last week, Oracle announced plans to retire Web Services Gateway (WSG) and Extended Process Integration (XPI) from JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. While the company has made noises about putting these offerings out to pasture for some time, the announcement puts definite dates on the event.

Beginning September 1, 2008, Oracle will no longer offer WSG with EnterpriseOne Tools. However, existing users will still be able to access WSG via the Update Center. In addition, Oracle will provide Premier Support for the offering through October 1, 2010. This means that WSG will continue to receive updates, fixes, and certifications for new EnterpriseOne releases. After October 1, 2010, WSG will move to Sustaining Support, which provides technical assistance and pre-existing fixes for known issues.

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Yesterday, Oracle issued an urgent Security Alert about a vulnerability in Oracle’s WebLogic application server (formerly BEA WebLogic). The company also provided a workaround for the vulnerability that WebLogic customers can implement until developers create a patch for the flaw. This is the first time in more than three years that Oracle has issued a security alert outside of its regularly scheduled Critical Patch Updates, making this a “must fix” for WebLogic users.

The story behind the unusual alert was broken yesterday by Eric Maurice on the Oracle Global Product Security Blog. For those of you who do not know him, Maurice anchors this blog and has made it one of the best sources of information about securing Oracle products on the web. As Maurice explained in yesterday’s post, both the vulnerability and the code to exploit it was posted on public forums before it was sent to Oracle (a definite “no no” that separates ethical hackers from the black hats of the business). To make matters worse, the exploit code hit the forums shortly after Oracle released its last Critical Patch Update on July 15. This is forcing Oracle to issue an out of cycle security update.

If you do not subscribe to the feed for the Oracle Global Product Security Blog, I would encourage you to do so. Its timely warnings could save you from a nasty breach of your JD Edwards applications.

While the summer doldrums may be upon us, there has been no reduction in the flow of JD Edwards news coming across my desk. In this article, I’ll discuss important changes on the middleware and tools fronts, promising developments for JD Edwards World, and a way that almost any company can get a fat check from Oracle.

Next Stop…WebLogic?

Last week, I posted a review of Oracle’s plans to integrate BEA products into its Fusion Middleware portfolio. As the review stated, Oracle’s middleware roadmap raises many questions about the role that BEA products will play in the Oracle Technology Foundation for EnterpriseOne. While we are still working to get definitive answers to those questions, sources inside Oracle have confirmed that there are no plans to force EnterpriseOne customers to use BEA WebLogic Server. If you are running Oracle Application Server or IBM WebSphere Application Server, you will continue to receive support.

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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.

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Last week, Oracle quietly posted an updated price list for its database and middleware products on its corporate web site. As a comparison of the updated list with last year’s list reveals, most prices rose by between 15 and 20 percent. While Oracle did reduce prices on a handful of products, the widespread price increases could motivate some JD Edwards customers to rethink their software procurement plans.

The price increases apply to nearly all database and middleware categories in Oracle’s growing product portfolio. That includes the vendor’s flagship Database Enterprise Edition, which now costs $47,500 for a processor license versus $40,000 two weeks ago. That’s almost a 19 percent increase. Oracle also boosted prices on most of its business intelligence products. For instance, Oracle BI Server Enterprise Edition now costs $51,800 per processor, a 15 percent increase.

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Late last week, many of us from Andrews Consulting Group came stumbling back to our offices under heavy loads of information from the COLLABORATE user conference. Now that I’ve sorted through my pile of data, I’m ready to share insights from the annual IT gala.

Let’s begin with an event that is a natural starting point for any COLLABORATE review. That is the keynote speech by Lenley Hensarling (Group VP and General Manager for JD Edwards) and John Schiff (VP and General Manager for JD Edwards World) that sets the stage for the rest of the JD Edwards presentations at the conference.

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In 2006, Andrews Consulting Group released a white paper entitled The Transformation of JD Edwards Applications that you can download from our white papers section. This year, we are revisiting the subject of how Oracle is transforming our applications with a new series of articles. We welcome your comments and questions as the series evolves.

As I explained in the previous article in this series, Oracle wants to make it easy for users of its Applications Unlimited (AU) products — including JD Edwards — to invoke “best of breed” functions from other Oracle applications. Oracle is repackaging these functions as composite business processes that other applications can access via service-oriented architectures (SOAs). The technologies that make all of this possible are contained in Oracle’s Application Integration Architecture (AIA).

Over the next one to two years, Oracle plans to implement AIA fully within almost all of its applications. This could make it possible for the then-current JD Edwards releases to invoke functions from other AU applications, Fusion Applications, and software that Oracle has acquired from Agile, Demantra, G-Log, and other vendors.

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In 2006, Andrews Consulting Group released a white paper entitled The Transformation of JD Edwards Applications that you can download from our white papers section. This year, we are revisiting the subject of how Oracle is transforming our applications with a new series of articles. We welcome your comments and questions as the series evolves.

As I explained in our first article in this series, Oracle has set an ambitious goal for itself. That goal is to make it easy for all of its Applications Unlimited (AU) offerings—including JD Edwards—to invoke functions from the rest of Oracle’s vast application portfolio. This would make each AU product significantly more complete than it is today.

If Oracle realizes its vision, it could make life dramatically different for JD Edwards customers. A company might, for instance, integrate functions from Oracle’s Agile, Demantra, G-Log, and Siebel products under the covers of EnterpriseOne or World. Indeed, it might even integrate some of the latest Fusion Applications in the same way. In some cases, these integrations would require the deployment of selected components of the integrated applications. In other cases, the customer would invoke the functions from an Oracle-hosted site. Either way, the resulting integrations would be virtually seamless, with data flowing almost effortlessly between the new functions and the underlying JD Edwards applications.

How could Oracle make it so easy for JD Edwards and other AU customers to close the functionality gaps in their existing applications? The answer lies in two strategic initiatives that the software giant has been pursuing for more than two years. The first initiative is to repackage much of the “best of breed” functionality in its applications as composite business processes. These processes will integrate with AU applications and each other via a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The second initiative is to create an “integration platform” that governs how composite business processes are created and defines how they interoperate with AU applications over SOAs.

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Last week, Oracle demonstrated once again that like the Godfather, it can make offers to other software vendors that they cannot refuse. The company announced that middleware rival BEA has agreed to become part of Oracle for $8.5 billion in cash, or $19.375 per share. While the deal cost Larry Ellison and his crew significantly more than the $17 per share they originally bid for BEA, it was less than the $21 per share that BEA insisted it was worth. With the stock market tanking and taking tech shares down with it, BEA undoubtedly realized that it would be a long time before it would see a better offer.

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In 2006, Andrews Consulting Group released a white paper entitled The Transformation of JD Edwards Applications that you can download from our white papers section. This year, we are revisiting the subject of how Oracle is transforming our applications with a new series of articles. We welcome your comments and questions as the series evolves.

When Oracle President Charles Phillips delivered his keynote speech at the vendor’s annual OpenWorld user conference last November, he gave the audience a simple roadmap to Oracle’s strategy for its products, including JD Edwards applications. As Phillips put it, the strategy consists of three deceptively simple mandates:

  • Be more complete. Give customers the functionality they need to seamlessly automate all their business processes without the functional fragmentation that is still common.
     
  • Be better integrated. Take the task of integrating software off the shoulders of customers by delivering a  platform for integration.
     
  • Embrace open standards. Make the integration platform as open as possible so that IT professionals and vendors can access it regardless of their technology choices.

This article is the first in a series of columns that will take this simple strategy and explore what it means for the future of JD Edwards applications. In the articles, we will examine how Oracle plans to transform our applications of choice along the three dimensions of functional completeness, integration, and openness.

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Last week, IBM took several steps to make its WebSphere products more appealing to JD Edwards users. Big Blue’s latest moves could partly be a response to the competitive heat it has been catching from Oracle Fusion Middleware in companies that count both vendors as strategic suppliers.

On December 4, IBM announced a new release of its WebSphere Adapter for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne that runs natively on the System i. As many of you “blue stack” aficionados know, WebSphere Adapters enable applications running on WebSphere Application Server to integrate with software from other vendors. For years, IBM has offered an EnterpriseOne adapter that runs in AIX, Linux, and Windows environments. Now, the V6.1 release of the adapter supports i5/OS as well. In addition, the new release supports the JD Edwards Dynamic Java Connector API with Business Functions, among other capabilities.

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Over the last year, Oracle has been quietly stepping up efforts to promote its Fusion Middleware to its application customers. From our company’s viewpoint, those efforts are starting to bear fruit. For instance, we have seen a growing number of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers asking about Oracle’s “Red Stack” (an industry phrase that distinguishes Fusion Middleware from IBM’s “Blue Stack” of WebSphere middleware). We have also seen several EnterpriseOne sites deploy their first Fusion Middleware products.

Now that the the Red Stack is popping up at JD Edwards shops, I want to make you aware of two things. First, Oracle is going to use its upcoming OpenWorld conference to honor application customers that are deploying Fusion Middleware. To do that, the vendor will present the Oracle Innovation Award to selected companies that are integrating their Oracle applications with the Red Stack. If you are one of those companies (or know one of them), you can nominate your company for the award at a web site that Oracle has set up for the purpose. If your nomination is accepted, you will receive one free pass to OpenWorld and be honored at an awards banquet. You may also be featured in a cover story in Oracle’s Profit Magazine.

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One month ago, Oracle President Charles Phillips dedicated most of his keynote speech at the Collaborate conference to announcing a new technology initiative: Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA). When an Oracle president kicks off a conference in this way, it must mean that AIA is a big deal. Knowing this, we have been on a quest on your behalf to figure out exactly what AIA is all about and whether it is of any great consequence to the JD Edwards community.

The bottom line is that AIA is important. However, its near term relevance to you depends on the size and complexity of your application environment. For the roughly 200 top-end JD Edwards customers, AIA is definitely something that needs to be understood soon. Everyone else will be impacted by AIA in the fullness of time, but need not be highly concerned at this moment.

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