Oracle Unveils Plans for BEA

Today Oracle lifted the veil on its plans for BEA. Naturally, Oracle said the acquisition as a whole was not just for market share, but for BEA's technology, which would all become part of the Fusion middleware platform. There was a lot of material presented, but I'll focus on the product convergence plan as it relates to BPMS.

To rationalize the product set, Oracle first sorted the BEA product catalog into one of three buckets: 1) strategic, where BEA was considered superior to existing Fusion components or a new capability; 2) continue and converge, where BEA component would be positioned as secondary, maintained but eventually merged into the current Fusion offering; and 3) maintenance, mostly OEM offerings, which it seems Oracle wants to walk away from as soon as they can. The BEA installed base was reassured that all BEA current products would continue to be "supported," although those that are not "strategic" would not be enhanced.

Oracle JDeveloper continues as the strategic IDE, although Oracle will continue to contribute significantly to Eclipse. In Oracle BPM, JDev is the one that counts. The Oracle and BEA Eclipse pieces will be combined into Oracle Enterprise Eclipse Pack, replacing WebLogic Workbench. All these tools will be free to customers, per Oracle's current policy.

WebLogic will be the strategic app server, over Oracle's own, even though the tooling moves over to JDev. One confusing thing is OC4J, which Oracle uses as the container for BPEL processes, has to be ported to the BEA app server. I guess that is not hard to do...

In SOA, AquaLogic ESB trumps Oracle's own. It will be enhanced with Oracle features like SCA fabric, BAM sensors, and business rules, and will become part of the Oracle SOA Suite. Oracle BPEL Process Manager continues as the strategic process orchestration and human workflow engine. Web services, complex event processing, rules, B2B, and BAM all fall on the Oracle side.

For BPM, Oracle tries to divide the baby. The existing BPA Suite (OEM ARIS) is positioned as the "strategic" modeling tool at the "high end", but BEA's AquaLogic BPM (fka Fuego) seems to have found a home as the "agile BPM" tool suitable for implementation by non-IT "domain experts." I'm not sure that's how BEA ever positioned ALBPM, but Oracle's positioning of ALBPM as the agile one (compared to BPA Suite + SOA Suite) is refreshingly honest... perhaps too much so, so we'll see how long that lasts. Not sure if they have figured out how to do it yet, but the plan seems to be to maintain the ALBPM modeling/design environment - bad news for BPA Suite? - and move the ALBPM runtime over to a single engine that can execute either BPEL or BPMN 2.0, with common auditing and management. Oracle says ALBPM "will be integrated with the BPEL metamodel for round trip design," and "process documentation" will be available via BPA Suite. How much of that is hobbling ALBPM and how much enhancing BPEL remains to be seen.

All of this means there is finally a product named "Oracle BPM Suite." It includes:

  • Oracle BPM Studio (ALBPM Studio, BPEL Designer)
  • Oracle BPEL Process Manager (runtime)
  • Oracle Business Rules
  • Oracle Business Activity Monitoring
  • Restricted use of Oracle WebCenter Suite (for Process Portal)
More confusing to me is the UI side. Oracle ADF is the strategic UI builder. Oracle WebCenter is the strategic portal/collaboration environment, and leads Oracle's charge into the Enterprise 2.0 space. It takes a wide range of point products, from collaboration to content management, and combines them in an integrated suite architected for "enterprise-class" use.

Oracle WebCenter Services will include a mix of existing OWC and AquaLogic components:

  • Oracle WebCenter Framework
  • Oracle BPEL Worklist (Human Workflow)
  • Oracle UCM Content Adapter (access Content from Stellent)
  • Oracle Portlet Bridge & JSR-168 Container
  • Oracle Composer (Thin Client Customization)
  • Others: Wikis, BLOGS, Tasks, Discussions, Polls, Surveys, ?
  • Oracle Ensemble (formerly BEA AL-UI Ensemble)
  • Oracle WebCenter Analytics (formerly BEA AL-UI Analytics)
  • Oracle WebCenter Adapter - Content Integration from external Content Stores into WebCenter
Oracle WebCenter Suite is a bundled offering combining OWC Services with a number of collaboration and portal tools, several of which come from BEA:
  • Oracle WebCenter Spaces (Portal Communities)
  • Oracle Content Server (restricted Document Repository)
  • Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (restricted use)
  • Oracle Presence (Restricted to Max of 50K Users)
  • Oracle BPEL PM (Restricted to Community & Content Approvals)
  • Oracle WebCenter Interaction (BEA AL-UI Interaction)
  • Oracle WebCenter Collaboration (BEA AL-UI Collaboration)
  • Oracle WebCenter Sharepoint console (BEA AL-UI Sharepoint Console -ability to access Content from Sharepoint into AL-UI)
  • Oracle WebCenter .Net Application Accelerator (BEA AL-UI .Net Application Accelerator)
  • Other BEA AL-UI Individual Line Items folded in
Only part of OWC Suite is included in the new BPMS.

Finally, Oracle intends to follow IBM's lead and continue to offer a separate special-purpose BPM product - fka Stellent - for content-centric workflow, including imaging and document capture, rather than orchestrate those content services using the "real" BPMS (either one of them). I don't think this strategy works for IBM and I don't think it's ideal for Oracle, either.