Oracle upgrades app server with SOA in mind

Positioning its middleware as a comprehensive SOA platform, Oracle on Monday rolled out an upgrade to its application server that adds a business rules engine, boosts support for Web services, and features an updated ESB (enterprise services bus).

The announcement was made at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Available in early 2006, Oracle Application Server 10g Release 3 is being classified by Oracle as a major update to its SOA platform. A key addition is a business rules engine to ease the changing of processes.

"What this allows customers to do is to declaratively set business rules," said Rick Schultz, vice president at Oracle Fusion middleware. "They can add or modify business rules without having to go into their application code and make changes in the application, which would require them to recompile and redeploy the whole application."

Oracle is providing value with the rules engine, said analyst John Rymer, vice president of application development and infrastructure at Forrester Research. "Business logic changes all the time. This is what our clients are struggling with now," Rymer said.

Rymer cited as an example banks that have to change processes after credit card companies issue policy revisions. "It's just a huge amount of work," Rymer said.

An updated version of Oracle's ESB supports the latest Java Business Integration technologies, according to Oracle. Embedded within the enterprise edition of the application server, the ESB handles messaging, content-based routing, and transformations. Customers can plug in legacy applications or processes to orchestrate flow of services.

Support for Web services and security standards is increased in the new release. A services registry based on UDDI version 3 is offered in the enterprise release of the application server.

Other Web services standards supported include WS-Reliable Messaging, WS-Security, WS-Federation, and Web Services Invocation Framework. Accommodating the non-SOAP and WSDL world, the application server accommodates REST (Representational State Transfer) Web services.

"There are some folks who are using REST more than others. It has had some pickup in the Internet communities," Schultz said.

WS-I (Web Services Interoperability Organization) compliance also is featured in the application server, as are new Java Message Service features.

Security enhancements in the application server include support for SAML 1.0 and 2.0, advanced single sign-on and tools for securely managing Web services and SOAs, Oracle said.

Grid computing features in the release include dynamic workload management, enhanced clustering and automated backup, recovery, and disaster recovery. A JMX (Java Management Extensions) console is offered for grid support.

Oracle refers to its application server architecture as "hot-pluggable" because it enables mixing and matching of Oracle middleware with existing infrastructures.

Oracle Application Server 10g Release 3 is certified to work with a variety of open source development frameworks, including Eclipse, Spring, Hibernate and Tapestry. Other open source projects that can be utilized with the application server include the MyFaces implementation of JavaServer Faces (JSF), the CVS (Concurrent Versions System) version control system and the JUnit testing tool.

In conjunction with the application server, Oracle is upgrading its JDeveloper tool and the Oracle Application Developer Framework with features such as easier code refactoring, support for Java 5.0 and J2EE 1.4, and a visual JSF and Struts development environment. EJB 3.0 also is supported.

A new release of Oracle Web Services Manager also accompanies the application server. Dubbed release 10g release 10.1.3, it features additional pre-built service policies and increases in monitoring and analytic capabilities.

The application server is priced at US$30,000 per CPU for the enterprise-level edition.

Oracle also is announcing the first enhancements to the COREid Federation product acquired when the company purchased Oblix earlier in 2005. Part of the Oracle Identity Management platform, which can be used for securing the application server, COREid now offers seamless single sign-on and identity-sharing across business partners via a multiprotocol gateway that supports standards such as Liberty, Oracle said.

COREid Provisioning will be integrated with Oracle Web Services Manager and Oracle BPEL Process Manager for security in an SOA-based provisioning architecture.

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