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Oracle pitches process over programming

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Globalization is inevitable, companies are increasingly lean (and green), Web 2.0 social software has created conflicting generational user expectations, and everyone is howling for applications that can reach customers in ways they never have before.

That's Oracle's assessment of the trends that will shape the way we build and deliver enterprise applications in the future.

"It's a fact that IT is a bottleneck today," senior vice president of application strategy Jesper Andersen claimed during a session at last week's OpenWorld in San Francisco, California. "Every CIO I talk to says that."

IT execs struggle daily, he said, with limited budgets and ever shifting requirements, evolving compliance and governance issues, and a growing autonomy within individual business units - fostered by blogs, wikis, and other collaborative Web 2.0 software - that is causing them to lose control.

Andersen told attendees of a session where he outlined Oracle's vision for enterprise applications that the bottleneck starts with the platform on which enterprise applications have been developed.

"Generally speaking, these applications were developed over time on a monolithic architecture," he said. "Architectures where we wrote a lot of code - very procedural types of platforms. That was the technology available to us as these platforms evolved over time."

Customization has added to the problem, making applications IT-dependent. "When you modify code, then you are responsible for it," he said. "When new operating systems come out, you have to get your hands dirty. You have to make it work. That's money and time."

Oracle's answer to this problem? Break the IT logjam with a business-process platform. "We need a new platform that's driven by business processes, not code. The expression language needs to become business processes, not code."

You might not be surprised to learn that business process management is a cornerstone of Oracle's Fusion strategy for its applications and middleware.

With a process-based platform you configure instead of customize, Andersen claimed. "This is where the declarative languages come in," he said. "When you look at Java, it's not just the language, it's the declarative abilities it provides and the user interfaces you can define."

Andersen's solution, of course, is Oracle's Business Process Platform and Fusion middleware - both of which support the buzzword concept of the conference: Adaptive Integration Architecture (AIA). At the show, Oracle launched the AIA Foundation Pack that features objects, services, methodologies and infrastructure components for developing process integrations and composite applications. It also announced three Process Integration Packs that are based on AIA for order to bill, agent-assisted-billing care, and revenue accounting.

According to Andersen, the AIA library will allow companies to buy best-practice business processes from both Oracle and its partners. "It's not necessarily a replacement for everything you have," he claimed. "It's something you can add to your existing infrastructure and slowly evolve into over time".

And we've all heard that kind of language before.®

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