Friday, August 29, 2008

BPEL, Beehive and Service Repository at OOW

This recap of some interesting OOW2008 sessions is posted a bit later than expected since my baggage -including notes- was stuck on the airport for a few days. Coincidentally my baggage was stranded at the same airport for which I codesigned the new baggage handling system. Maybe software can have a grudge against its creator after all? Luckily it was another terminal than the one I transferred through.

There were several interesting sessions on BPEL PM by Clemens Utschig and Robin Zimmermann on the new features in, upcoming features in, and some useful tips and tricks for problem solving BPEL projects. A summary of the new and improved features in the Oracle BPEL PM patch can be found here. The main objective of this patch is to make the BPEL Console a one-stop-shop. It therefore mainly introduces administrative improvements. The most interesting of these are:

Lost BPEL instances
Actually these instances are not lost, they just don’t show up in the BPEL Console. This is due to rollbacks in asynchronous process instances that are not yet dehydrated. This can e.g. be the case when a time-out occurs and the global BPEL transaction is rolled-back. The problem is solved by using a separate transaction for dehydration and not doing the actual instance’s work in the same transaction as the dehydration.

Deployment plans
This looks very much like the deployment plans already available in Oracle ESB. These plans are used to extract most of the configurable process information that differs per environment. Such information includes URL’s and ports of invoked services, adapter-specific information like inbound file names, JNDI locations of JMS queues, database adapter names, etc. etc. Ant tasks can be used to deploy BPEL processes to a target environment with the configuration of that specific environment. This information is wrapped in a BPEL suitcase. Part of the environment-specific information -not all, especially adapter-related information- could already be externalized using customized Ant builds. When an ESB is used to wrap adapter functionality, the need for deployment plans is not as urgent.

Other improvements in the patch include improved visibility of engine threading model, improved statistics collection, minimization of XML coding errors through compliance testing and enhanced debugging of XML payloads, improved automated recovery agent (this feature was disabled in previous releases), and collection of support information when creating service requests.

Note that some of the latest MLR’s are not included in the patch. You’ll need to apply patch followed by some additional MLR’s to update to the newest version. A preview of the new features are also available in the PDF.

Some other cool stuff presented at OOW2008:

Oracle Beehive is launched. Beehive is an integrated, open, and secure collaborative platform. Sort of a new and improved OCS, but then build from scratch. It provides seamless integration with -and abstraction of- all kinds of collaborative tools and technologies such as mail, file system, content management, feeds, calendar, mobile devices, chat, protocols, etc., etc. This is done through the notion of team and personal workspaces. Beehive also includes a Web based interface. Integration with existing user-interfaces or building more advanced user-interfaces can be achieved through its Java API and/or WebCenter Suite. That way you would have a WebCenter frontend communicating with a Beehive backend. See the Beehive website and the Beehive forum.

Enterprise Repository
Some products that were lacking from the Oracle stack prior to the BEA acquisition were related to governance. In the beginning of smaller, integration-aimed, and not enterprise-wide SOA projects technology usually poses a bigger risk than governance. However, in the course of SOA-projects lack of governance quickly becomes the main risk. Next to the runtime Service Registry product from Systinet, Oracle Web Service Manager, and the Enterprise Manager SOA Management Pack that Oracle offers, governance support now also includes the former BEA product Enterprise Repository. This product supports and enables governance at design-time. With this product you can -among others- “harvest” BPEL projects to retrieve artifacts such as processes, WSDL’s, XSD’s, and so on. Enterprise Repository creates a taxonomy out of this and graphically presents this. This way one can see for example what XSD is used by what processes, what policies are attached to what processes, and if these policies are met. Later versions will automate the retrieval of runtime information to automatically determine whether policies such as service response times are met. Publishing repository information to the development environment instead of the other way around should also be possible in future releases.

And this was just a small portion of all the OOW2008 news! See OTN for more information!

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