App servers key to integration, Oracle exec says

Application servers utilizing Web services and Java will enable integration of multiple information systems for e-business, according to an Oracle official speaking at a conference on Tuesday.

Portals also will be critical, said MohamadAfshar, principal product manager for Oracle9iAS (Application Server), at The Yankee Group Integration Technologies Forum entitled "Leveraging Web Services & Integration Technologies for Maximum Business Value."

"We see the application server as being the main vehicle to deliver integration that's critical to building systems within the enterprise," along with technologies such as JMS (Java Message Service) and JCA (Java Connector Architecture), Afshar said.

JCA, for example, can be used as a standard mechanism for accessing information from a Siebel Systems Inc. CRM or Oracle Corp. financial application, Afshar said. "What that technology enables is a standard way for those applications to expose the services that they have," he said.

Oracle, as part of the next version of its application server platform due later this year, plans to use JCA functionality to enable deployment of portals that can more easily link to other applications, Afshar said in an interview following his keynote speech. JCA will supplant proprietary adapters, although application vendors will need to support JCA as well, according to Afshar.

IT is moving beyond EAI (enterprise application integration) to more standards-based technologies, Afshar told the audience. Oracle sees the capabilities of EAI fitting right inside the application server to enable business process, partner and event management, and alerting, Afshar said.

Additionally, IT is evolving toward standards-based integration, with Web services playing a part in that, he said. "It's all about lowering the costs, making (integration) more approachable," and enabling service-oriented architectures, Afshar said.

Afsharpresented a vision of how a variety of technologies would provide for a new integration equation. Databases, for example, will serve both producers and consumers of Web services, he said.

Additionally, vendors will produce technology to consolidate non-XML and XML data into a common format to be accessed via an interface, Afshar said.

JCA will enable updating of back-end systems, while e-commerce will be enabled via use of the RosettaNet e-business process standards and portals, he said. RosettaNet also can provide for a single data model to cure semantic inconsistencies in transactions, Afshar said.

Afshar'stalk made no mention of the rival Microsoft .Net platform for deploying Web services. But during a panel session on Monday at the conference, Afshar panned .Net as a Windows-only technology not suitable for the datacenter.

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