AquaLogic: Alive and Kicking

We just got back from OracleWorld last week, and wow!  That conference is unbelievably huge, but very well-organized.  We met a lot of current and past friends and colleagues out there, but a big part of our attendance was to get more insight into the future of the AquaLogic portal stack.

Once again, Oracle reaffirmed 9 years worth of support for the AquaLogic line, but their commitment to keeping Aqualogic as the primary code base wasn't as strongly expressed.  As you may know, Oracle has the WebCenter Suite - of which ALUI (WebCenter User Interaction), will play a part.  But Oracle's portal and BEA's portal will also remain in this space.  The current plan is to take most of the existing integration products and portals and fit them together in a more standards-based suite of producers (Oracle Services) and consumers (portal products), so you'll be able to leverage all of the cool new services that Oracle is working on with any of these portals.

They're also working on this thing called Oracle WebCenter Spaces, which is a fantastic-looking UI for creating "portals" with JDeveloper and Oracle's Application Developer Framework.  This thing was slick - we went to a lab where we created a rich mock-customer UI which integrated elements of Oracle's Content Management system (which'll replace Publisher) using JDeveloper and just dragging-and-dropping widgets onto a page and wiring the objects together with property pages.  The thing felt more like BEA's portal (which was more developer-focused) than AquaLogic's (more configuration than development), but it was still pretty impressive. 

We were told all of those rich components will be surfaced through the AquaLogic portal as well via WSRP, so in theory, ALUI customers aren't left out in the cold as these rich components are developed.  As Oracle fine-tunes the ultimate portal strategy, they're also developing these components as "WebCenter Services", which are basically standards-compliant portlets that will be available to all portals.  So we should be getting the best of all worlds - existing portals plus all the "generic" web services (like discussion groups/collab, and the new Enterprise 2.0 functionality). 

The big outstanding question, though, is whether WebCenter Spaces will become the de-facto "portal" that gets the most development effort from the Oracle Team on a go-forward basis.  Eventually these products will have to start consolidating, and time will tell whether that's nine years from now where each product has gradually started looking like the next anyway, or 2 years from now where more dramatic migration strategies will need to be put in place.  My take?  Either way, it's no big deal.  We Plumtree folks have had some pretty major upgrade/migrations to go through before, and we were always taken care of.  Remember how hard the 4.5WS -> 5.0 migration was?  Well, we haven't had a major game-changing upgrade since then (the 5 -> 6 upgrade was pretty clean, but was more evolutionary than revolutionary).  If Oracle does go with a big migration strategy from the ALUI code base to something else, I'd bet that the migration won't be as complicated as the 5.0 migration was, and the rich new set of functionality available will make it worthwhile.

The important thing here is:  don't panic!  ALUI will be around and recognizable for a LONG time, and judging by what we saw at OracleWorld, there are lots of exciting new technologies just around the corner that will make it even more valuable.


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