This post is the answer by a Partner at M&S, Ashok Aggarwal, to a question posted on Quora.com. It answers some of the questions that we commonly hear, so we thought we would post it here as well. We hope it helps.
I have been working with Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM), and the offerings from Oracle within OFM since before Oracle branded it all Oracle Fusion Middleware (which was indeed before both the Sun and BEA acquisitions). And I anticipate I will continue to work with it all even after the name has changed. (I already often drop the word “Fusion” and refer to it as “Oracle Middleware” for reasons listed below).
Cameron provides a good high level answer, but I see a number of answers here that are either misleading or plain incorrect. I will try to illuminate it more clearly for future readers since you might stumble on this for a variety of reasons given the question itself wasn’t very specific.
Naming: I often call it “Oracle Middleware”, removing the word “Fusion” in an effort to keep people from confusing it with “Oracle Fusion Applications” (which many people have often called “Oracle Fusion” or just “Fusion”), and I sometimes abbreviate it to “OFM”, though many people (including Oracle) abbreviate it to “FMW”, especially when installing the products it seems.
I often describe Middleware (in the context of Oracle) as “horizontal” technologies. By horizontal, I mean a technologies that span other enterprise business applications (CRM, ERP, Billing, Order Management, Product Lifecycle Management, SCM, etc.). Integration solutions have traditionally been called “middleware” technology as they sit in the middle of two or more systems/applications/people. But Oracle also considers BI to be part of OFM, and it certainly can help bring together data from multiple systems into one place…and it can be the reporting engine of choice for multiple applications as well.
It is important to note that Oracle Fusion Middleware is more than just middleware-meaning-systems-integration technology as people outside Oracle often use the word. Oracle has traditionally had 3 main product lines: Database (that everyone knows about), Applications (quite popular enterprise business applications like Oracle’s E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle’s new Fusion Applications, etc.), and then Middleware — which Oracle seems to be using for everything else). I say that because, well, it’s true. Sometimes it feels as if someone at Oracle said “if it’s not database, and it’s not an enterprise business application, it must be middleware”. So, today, you will find all kinds of offerings within the Oracle Fusion Middleware umbrella including Oracle’s SOA, BPM, Identity Management (IdM), BI, EPM, ECM, Portals, Application Servers, Java, Dev Frameworks, Dev Tools, Management Tools and many other solutions, each with their own product packaging and naming specific to Oracle (and many categories with more than one product/packaging).
To be fair, they have added a 4th product line we often call “Technology” (or as Cameron calls “Systems”) to cover engineered systems, OSs (Solaris and OEL), virtualization technologies. Some might even argue Oracle today is splitting into more distinct product lines than 4 (maybe someone would argue that “Cloud” is its own).
As an example of the depth (and potential for confusion) of the products and packaging within OFM, the Identity Management (IdM) category of offerings have a number of subcategories and products included — for Directory Services, OFM IdM has 3 (or more) products: Oracle Internet Directory (OID), Oracle Unified Directory (OUD), and Oracle Directory Services Enterprise Edition (ODSEE). And there is a related product called Oracle Virtual Directory (OVD). All four (OUD, OID, ODSEE, and OVD) are offered in a package called Oracle Directory Services Plus. And next year, all those names could change. PS: ODSEE was previously Sun Java System Directory Server (JSDS) which was once known as Sun ONE Directory Server, iPlanet Directory Server, and also Netscape Directory Server at one point in the past.
- OFM is one of Oracle’s main ~3-5 product lines.
- OFM includes a number of products within it, many of which are middleware (systems integration) or could be loosely lumped into the middleware bucket.
- You can’t buy OFM, and you can’t install OFM — you’d be surprised how many people say they have done one or both of those things — but you can buy a product packaging within OFM like Oracle Directory Services Plus and you can install a product within that packaging like Oracle Internet Directory (OID).
- Products within OFM often require other Oracle components, specifically the Oracle Database (e.g. OID requires Oracle Database)
- Almost all OFM products run on an application server, specifically WebLogic Server (WLS) these days, which is the “new” application server technology that originally came to Oracle through the acquisition of BEA. WLS replaced Oracle’s older Oracle Internet Application Server (iAS) which was the backbone for OFM prior to 11g versions.
- OFM products have a primary install base today of version 11g (11 grid). Previous OFM versioning was primarily 10g (10 grid), and 9i(9 Internet) before that. The latest OFM products have a version of 12c (12 cloud). Each product within OFM follows its own versioning and can have stable releases at different times. (e.g. Oracle JDeveloper 12c was released a while ago, but people that wanted to use it for developing for SOA, WebCenter and other OFM products had to use JDeveloper 11g; as of writing this, JDeveloper 12c is still not used for some OFM products like WebCenter).
Oh, there is so much more, but that’s all I’ve got time to share in this Quora post for now. I hope this helps. Just reach out if you are interested in learning more.