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Oracle® Fusion Middleware Concepts Guide
11g Release 1 (11.1.1)

Part Number E10103-03
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1 Introduction

This chapter describes Oracle Fusion Middleware. It includes the following sections:

1.1 What is Middleware?

Middleware is the software that connects software components or enterprise applications. Middleware is the software layer that lies between the operating system and the applications on each side of a distributed computer network (Figure 1-1). Typically, it supports complex, distributed business software applications.

Middleware is the infrastructure which facilitates creation of business applications, and provides core services like concurrency, transactions, threading, messaging, and the SCA framework for service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications. It also provides security and enables high availability functionality to your enterprise.

Middleware includes Web servers, application servers, content management systems, and similar tools that support application development and delivery. It is especially integral to information technology based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web services, SOA, Web 2.0 infrastructure, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)m etc.

Figure 1-1 Middleware Architecture

The graphic provides a general overview of Middleware
Description of "Figure 1-1 Middleware Architecture"

Due to continued growth and use of network-based applications by businesses, middleware technologies are increasingly important. Companies and organizations are now building enterprisewide information systems by integrating previously independent applications with new software developments. The integration process may involve legacy applications which may be used only with, or through a nonmodifiable interface. In some cases, rewriting the code for a legacy application may be cost-prohibitive.

Increasingly, information systems are composed of a collection of various specialized hardware devices interconnected by a network. Each device performs a function that involves receipt of real time data and remote interaction with other devices of the system. Some examples include computer networks, telecommunication systems, uninterrupted power supply units, and decentralized manufacturing units.

Interaction with the information system may span a wide range of performance. You can interact with Internet applications through a variety of devices, whose characteristics and performance figures span an increasingly wide range. Between a high performance personal computer, a smart telephone, and a personal digital assistant, the variations in bandwidth, local processing power, screen capacity, and the ability to display color pictures, are extremely large.

1.2 Functions of Middleware

Applications use intermediate software that resides on top of the operating systems and communication protocols to perform the following functions:

Middleware makes application development easier, by providing common programming abstractions, by masking application heterogeneity and the distribution of the underlying hardware and operating systems, and by hiding low-level programming details.

1.3 Middleware Architecture Design

The function of middleware is to mediate interaction between the parts of an application, or between applications. Therefore, considerations for architectural structure play a central role in middleware design. The architectural design encompasses the organization, overall structure, and communication patterns, both for applications and for the middleware itself.

Besides architectural aspects, the main problems of middleware design pertain to various aspects of distributed systems. Any middleware system relies on a communication layer that allows its different pieces to interoperate. In addition, communication is a function provided by middleware itself to applications, in which the communicating entities may take on different roles such as client server or peer-to- peer. Middleware allows different interaction modes (synchronous invocations, asynchronous message passing, coordination through shared objects) embodied in different patterns.

Therefore, middleware system design faces several challenges:

1.4 Service-Oriented Architecture

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an architectural style whose goal is to achieve loose coupling among diverse interacting software applications, enabling organizations to take advantage of existing investments in applications and systems. SOA facilitates the development of modular business services that can be easily integrated and reused, thus creating a flexible and adaptable infrastructure. Using a SOA approach, an organization can focus more resources and budget on innovation and on delivering new business services. Systems that can successfully use SOA can minimize the disruption of planned or unplanned outages in an enterprise.

Some of the advantages of using SOA are:

How does SOA achieve loose coupling among interacting software agents? It does so by employing two architectural constraints:

1.5 Oracle Fusion Middleware Solution

Oracle Fusion Middleware offers solutions to and support for complex, distributed business software applications. It includes Web servers, application servers, content management systems, and similar tools that support application development and delivery.

Oracle Fusion Middleware is a collection of standards-based software products that includes a range of tools and services: from a Java Enterprise Edition 5 (Java EE) compliant environment, and developer tools, to integration services, business intelligence, collaboration, and content management. Oracle Fusion Middleware offers complete support for development, deployment, and management.

Figure 1-2 provides an overview of the Oracle Fusion Middleware solution.

Figure 1-2 Oracle Fusion Middleware Solution Overview

Description of Figure 1-2 follows
Description of "Figure 1-2 Oracle Fusion Middleware Solution Overview"

Oracle Fusion Middleware offers the following solutions through its middleware design: