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

Part Number E10103-09
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1 Overview of Oracle Fusion Middleware

Oracle Fusion Middleware is a comprehensive family of products ranging from application development tools and integration solutions to identity management, collaboration, and business intelligence reporting. This chapter provides an introduction to Oracle Fusion Middleware. It includes the following sections:

1.1 What is Oracle Fusion Middleware?

Oracle Fusion Middleware is a collection of standards-based software products that spans a range of tools and services: from Java EE and developer tools, to integration services, identity management, business intelligence, and collaboration. Oracle Fusion Middleware offers complete support for development, deployment, and management.

Specifically, 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 as shown in Figure 1-1. Typically, middleware supports complex, distributed business software applications.

Middleware is also 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, Unicode, Web 2.0 infrastructure, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Textual data is represented in the Unicode character set to support data exchange in any language. UTF-8 is used as the standard encoding for transporting data for optimal compatibility and efficiency, while traditional non-Unicode encodings can also be used where supported.

Figure 1-1 Oracle Fusion Middleware Architecture

Description of Figure 1-1 follows
Description of "Figure 1-1 Oracle Fusion 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 Understanding the 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 Understanding 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.

Figure 1-2 provides an overview of the Oracle Fusion Middleware architecture with a common Oracle SOA installation.

For more information see the following guides:

Figure 1-2 Oracle Fusion Middleware Architecture Overview

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

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 Understanding the Oracle Fusion Middleware Solution

Oracle Fusion Middleware is a collection of standards-based software products that includes a range of tools and services inlcuding developer tools, integration services, business intelligence, collaboration, and content management. Oracle Fusion Middleware offers complete support for development, deployment, and management.

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