Oracle launches major app server upgrade

Oracle will introduce Oracle Application Server 10g Release 2 tomorrow at its OpenWorld conference, describing it as a...

Oracle will introduce Oracle Application Server 10g Release 2 tomorrow at its OpenWorld conference, describing it as a significant upgrade, with RFID backing as new and improvements in Java, web services and identity management.

Thomas Kurian, an Oracle senior vice-president, said the company planned to ship the application server and the JDeveloper 10g Release 2 development tool in three weeks.

The application server and development tool upgrades took up a session at the first day of the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Monday. The products will be formally announced on Wednesday, as will Oracle Application Server Standard Edition 1, a version of the application server intended for small businesses. Standard Edition 1 focuses on building websites and portals.  

“Release 2 is a major update release for us," Kurian said. "There are 432 features in the new release.” The company is looking to help users build business applications in accordance with service-oriented architectures based on componentised applications.

Release 2 supports J2EE 1.4, including enhanced reliable messaging via Java Message Service and web services enhancements. J2EE 1.4 provides APIs for building web services in Java, such as JAX RPC. The Web Services Interoperability Organization Basic Profile is supported, as is interoperability with .net applications.

A SOAP stack and UDDI web services registry are featured. And a web services management gateway provides a central point to log, trace and enforce policies across application servers from Oracle and others. Web services functionality includes support for the Web Services Reliable Messaging specification.

To boost deployment in compute grids, the application server includes distributed configuration management. An improved transaction manager provides for two-phase commit.

Release 2 of the application server also improves Oracle Interconnect ESB, which provides messaging capabilities for systems integration. The ESB is 40% faster than the previous iteration, according to Kurian.

A “business event monitoring dashboard” enables users to set up key performance indicators and tie them to specific business events, such as whether a supplier is late. Security alerts can also be monitored.

The new application server comes with Instant Portal software that provides a starting point for using portals. “We give you a portal in the box, which you can start with and customise," said Kurian. "It also allows a business user to be much more quick and productive.”

Also supported is Java Specification Request 168 and Web Services for Remote Portlets, for boosting enterprise portal development.

Oracle has introduced “RFID edge” capabilities, providing support for the radio-based tagging standard. And an enhanced Oracle Forms function makes it easier to call forms from Java and use Java in forms.

Enhanced identity management allows for synchronisation between Oracle’s directory and products such as Microsoft Active Directory or the iPlanet directory. Kurian said it made it easier to manage directories across a distributed environment. Support for federated identity enables users to create and propagate identities from one organisation to another using SAML or Liberty Alliance technologies.

Integration between the application server and .net has been improved for identity purposes. “You can build web services in .net and invoke them from our application server,” Kurian said. “You can create users and take the Windows sign-on.”

Dynamic resource management in Release 2 allows for workload adjustments between systems. “When you’re running multiple applications on the application server, it knows how to adjust workloads and give capacity on the fly to those applications that need it, and take resources away from those that don’t,” Kurian said.

High availability accommodates deployment downtime both planned and unplanned, according to Kurian. Backup and recovery has been automated across multiple nodes and hot and cold backups are enabled. An App Server Guard provides for standby environments for the application server and databases.

An OpenWorld attendee cited high availability as a highlight of Kurian’s presentation. “The high-availability features really stood out for me,” said Sergio Del Rio, chief information officer of systems integrator Templates 4 Business. Del Rio said that availability had previously presented a struggle. He also applauded security enhancements but said his company had no need of RFID support.

Release 2 also offers new ways to install and configure application servers, enabling the cloning of portals and improvement of capabilities to migrate systems from testing to production. Upgrades can be fully automated.

A topology-based management function enables web severs and application servers to be monitored from a single place. “Topology-based management allows you to get centralised viewing and monitoring of your application servers and databases across your organisation,” Kurian said.

The application server also can be connected to legacy systems such as CICS and VSAM. Oracle is highlighting integration between the application server and Real Application Clusters as well, for failover purposes. Application servers can automatically switch over.

JDeveloper 10g Release 2 provides a design environment to develop J2EE, XML and database applications. It supports code refactoring, code templates and easier code navigation. JDeveloper is being integrated with open-source technologies for testing. JUnit support for Java testing is being enhanced, and Ant support is improved.

With its development announcement Oracle is also highlighting its Application Development Framework for using a choice of technologies, such as Struts, JavaServer Faces and EJB. Also supported in the framework are JBoss, BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere.

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld

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