Are all Application Infrastructure platforms created equal?


Oracle has spent a lot of air time on the new SPARC T4 processor, Exalytics, Exalogic updates, SPARC SuperCluster and Fusion Applications at their recent Oracle OpenWorld 2011 event. However very little if any attention had been given to the core of any business application – the Application Infrastructure itself. It seems like Oracle has moved on to the “engineered” systems, without much thought (or investment) given to what really is a core part of those systems.

Before we can compare IBM and Oracle, what exactly is the term “Application Infrastructure”?

  • Application Foundation
    This layer includes JDK, JEE compatible application server runtime and any extensions that it might provide (Web 2.0, mobile, batch, OSGi, etc.). One can build, run and scale Java and JEE business applications using Application Foundation core services.
  • Intelligent Management
    This layer extends the Application Foundation in a way that allows increasing the automation, dynamically adjusting workloads (such as growing or shrinking cluster size on the fly without human intervention), enforcing SLA levels, automating health management, providing additional scalability and simplifying administration.
  • Extreme Transaction Processing
    The XTP layer is designed for those high volume applications that demand the highest scalability and immediate response times. The tools provided as part of this layer are the data caching and batch processing runtimes that can scale to very large transaction volumes and maintain short response times.

IBM_AI_platform

While some of the Oracle products that came from years of acquisitions are good quality (such as JRockit JVM, WebLogic Server), others are much younger and hence not as mature or functional. Additionally, there are significant gaps in the overall Oracle middleware platform with significant parts of the functionality not being offered by Oracle today. Diagram below compares the IBM WebSphere application infrastructure to the Oracle offerings. This is purely a technical comparison that peels the onion of Oracle’s “Suites” marketing. I find it particularly interesting that Oracle was so silent at the recent Oracle OpenWorld 2011 about the roadmaps or new features in their Application Infrastructure.

Oracle_AI

As you can see from the diagram above, there are significant gaps in Oracle Fusion middleware offering. I will explore those areas in details in my future posts.

Interesting fact: According to the Gartner report, IBM ranks #1 in application infrastructure market share in 2010. IBM has been ranked #1 every year since 2002.
Source: Gartner Market Share: All Software Markets, World-Wide 2010, Doc G00211976, March 30, 2011



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