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Oracle unveils native BPEL engine

Oracle Corp. last week unveiled what it called "the industry's first and most complete" Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform. Based on technology acquired with its recent purchase of Collaxa Inc., Oracle's new BPEL Process Manager features what the company claims is the first native BPEL "engine," or software that collects data from different applications to complete particular business processes.

"We are definitely the first to deliver a native BPEL engine," Rob Cheng, Oracle's product marketing director, told eADT. "That's important because a native BPEL product gives you that ability to move your business process, even as the underlying infrastructure or vendor changes."

BPEL (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services), an XML-based industry standard for business process management, was designed to deal with course-grained business logic. Processes written in BPEL can be executed on any platform or product that complies with the BPEL specification. (Originally authored by BEA, IBM and Microsoft as a mechanism for orchestrating business processes in Web services environments, BPEL was submitted BPEL to the OASIS standards organization, which currently has it under review.)

Oracle's BPEL Process Manager (formerly the Collaxa BPEL Server) includes an engine for executing business processes; a console to monitor, manage and debug business processes; and a rich graphical interface to design and build business processes. The Oracle BPEL Process Manager adheres to open standards and can be deployed on any J2EE-compatible server, the company said.

Oracle purchased Collaxa -- a small, independent, business process management software developer based in Oracle's hometown of Redwood Shores, Calif. -- last month. Collaxa, which was founded in 2000, was one of the first companies to build its products around BPEL.

Oracle's acquisition of Collaxa completed Oracle's Services-Oriented Architecture and integration technology stack, Cheng said, adding a missing piece for orchestrating Web services, which support SOAs.

How does embracing SOA help Oracle to advance its much more visible grid computing strategy? (The "g" in "10g," after all, stands for "grid.") During a keynote presentation at last week's JavaOne conference in San Francisco, Thomas Kurian, senior VP for Oracle application server and application development tools, defined "grid" as "a pool of servers and storage that are networked together and across which work flows -- applications and data can be moved transparently, and the system has the intelligence to adjust to meet capacity demands." And he made the connection between the company's new offering and grid computing.

"Next-generation application servers are going to be on the network, and they are going to provide the infrastructure to run Web services," Kurian said. "At Oracle, we call it the 'service fabric' -- basically, ubiquitously distributed application servers on a network that you build Web services to ... The Oracle BPEL Process Manager enables organizations to quickly respond to changing business requirements, building on the capability of Oracle's grid computing platform to allocate IT resources to address spikes in utilization requirements ... Once you've built Web services and BPEL processes, and you're deploying them in a mission-critical environment, what do you need? You need an enterprise grid-computing infrastructure to give you the performance, scalability, and availability."

In a related announcement, Oracle disclosed that the next release of its JDeveloper 10g IDE will be certified for the Mac OS X platform. "This was a no-brainer for us," Cheng said. "Oracle has always tried to cater to developers, to meet them where they want to do their development. We have found that the Mac OS X platform is increasingly popular among developers. And we want to make it easier for developers to use Oracle application server and database technologies."

Support for the Mac OS X will be part of the next production release of JDeveloper 10g, which is due in September, Cheng said.

Additionally, IDC ranked Oracle Application Server as the fastest growing in the application server platform software market with year-over-year growth of 15%, surpassing IBM (6%) and BEA, which posted negative growth. Additionally, when looking specifically at the Linux- and Unix-based application deployment software markets, Oracle grew at a rate of three times the market average.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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