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Oracle To Update App Server With Business Activity Monitoring

Data integration software also to be spun off as separate product.
Oracle plans to meld Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) functionality into a new release of its J2EE-based application server this summer.

The BAM software, which drills down into systems to troubleshoot problems in the business workflow, builds natively upon the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) standard, said Oracle Senior Vice President Thomas Kurian.

Given that industry adoption of BPEL is growing, native support of it is critical, Kurian said. "Traditional EAI vendors like Tibco and WebMethods bolt BPEL on, but they [still] use their traditional languages and import/export BPEL. That's a lot of overhead," he said, adding that some BAM support is already available in Oracle's e-business suite.

Oracle Application Server 10.1.2's BAM capabilities will enable users to "drill down into business events in their supply chain, order fulfillment, etc., and figure out what a slip of supplier's shipment means to the overall supply chain," Kurian said. The system places small software agents in all the relevant system components for feedback, and support for RFID input is slated to be added this summer.

The solution brings realtime and predictive capabilities to the fore, whereas traditional business-intelligence vendors typically provide historical or backward-looking analysis, Kurian said.

Business-intelligence and analytics leaders such as Business Objects and Cognos, however, all claim they offer similar realtime and predictive capabilities.

The BAM data feeds into a central management console, where it can be correlated, filtered and subjected to analytics, according to Oracle. The results can be viewed on a portal dashboard.

Hoa Ton-That, senior manager of the Oracle technology practice at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, said Oracle has been pushing its process management and integration capabilities into new markets. "They're already strong in Oracle accounts and in some verticals, especially finance," he said.

But software vendors like Oracle and SAP have difficulty winning new customers, despite their large installed bases, industry observers said. Pure-play integration players say they have an advantage because they can tie into a diversity of applications from many vendors.

And Oracle isn't alone in its business-process focus. Most major software vendors have pledged BPEL support in their application servers. There also are a host of pure-play business-intelligence and business-process management vendors, as well as a fledgling group of ISVs offering Web services management and XML-based business visibility software.

"There is a lot of interest in business process management capability, and Oracle--like SAP--is putting a lot of effort in," said Ken Vollmer, an analyst at Forrester Research. "They will probably hold their own with other vendors offering BPM, especially if the customer doesn't need all the bells and whistles that the pure-play guys offer."

In another move, Oracle plans to make its Customer Data Hub--now part of its e-business suite--available as a stand-alone offering as part of the 11i.10 release of Oracle applications this summer, Kurian said. The stand-alone product, which will require the use of Oracle's database, also will include data integration functionality now present in Oracle's 10G application server, he said.

The idea behind the hub, which presents one view of "truth" gleaned from multiple data sources, is ideal, CGE&Y's Ton-That said. "[But] getting to a single number is more of a business issue than a technology one," he added. "Most businesses don't know what that single, true number is."