Write once, run everywhere -- no kidding
Primed for business, Oracle 10g AS Release 2 frees Java apps from traditional server binds
As free servers continue to rack up rapid gains in the installed base, Oracle hopes to hang on to its third-place position among vendors selling commercial J2EE-certified app servers. To boost AS (Application Server) 10g’s attractiveness alongside freeware alternatives, Oracle tries to split the difference between the cost benefits of free and the feature-richness of branded by making the entire server stack and tools free for development use.
I’m extremely impressed with AS 10g Release 2 as a commercial product. Oracle has designed a valuable feature set built on top of J2EE 1.3, optimizing it for SOAs (service-oriented architectures), BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), BPM, pervasive support of XML, and real-time business intelligence, among many, many other things.
But I’m just as impressed with the clear emphasis Oracle has placed on complying not only with the letter of Java server standards, but with their “write once, run anywhere” spirit. You get to choose whether you want to bind yourself to Oracle’s extras. AS 10g Release 2 permits, and even automates, deployment to and management of non-Oracle Java app servers that adhere to the J2EE 1.3 standard. And if you do this, there are no subtle glitches meant to prod you toward paying for Oracle’s server.
After several weeks of living with AS 10g Release 2, I found that Oracle’s added value is nothing short of spectacular for enterprise applications and well worth paying for.
Call It 10.5
AS 10g Release 2 is no service pack. It’s a new edition with, according to Oracle, more than 400 added features, many of which put business events in control of application flow. I’d make myself crazy trying to document all of them, so I’ll dig into a few that really grabbed me.
AS 10g’s holistic approach to BPM, which revolves around the BPEL standard, is exceptional. It rivals the capabilities of stand-alone and costly add-in business-process services and exceeds its mission by implementing connectivity with non-Java back ends in ways that make it easy to put your current assets at your Java solution’s disposal.
AS 10g minimizes the sense -- present in other servers -- that constructing a business process is like wiring together a massive entertainment system in which no two components come from the same manufacturer. The JCA (J2EE Connector Architecture) standard gives all Java app servers a foundation for getting integration right, but Oracle goes a step further with a healthy selection of standard connectors (including PeopleSoft, SAP, and Siebel), a smartly design front end, and a Web-based console that lets you monitor and debug business processes while they’re running.
As is the case across most of Oracle AS 10g’s plentiful console and dashboard interfaces, business process drill-down is a matter of clicking hyperlinks, and I’m amazed by the number of hyperlinked items shown on server management and report pages.
The drill-down information would make no sense if it were presented only symbolically. For those full AS 10g implementations that share a LAN segment with one or more Oracle 10g database servers, AS 10g maintains a centralized metadata repository that associates the arbitrary symbols embedded in Java code with plain language terms and processes specific to the application.