Oracle to support applications hosting

Oracle is the latest tier-one vendor to announce an applications hosting program.

This week it announced a new product suite designed to enable Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide application-hosting services to businesses in the booming Internet commerce market.

During its Internet Platform Day for service providers and vendors, Oracle said it would offer ISPs the Oracle Internet Platform Hosting Edition, a specially packaged product suite that includes software products for hosting Internet applications. The company is calling the release of the products its iHost initiative. Application hosting refers to the outsourcing of business services, including financial, human resources and other services, over the Internet.

Pascal Grant, Oracle's regional e-business manager, said iHost was targeted at the small- to medium-sized enterprise sector.

Grant said Oracle is currently in discussions with an unnamed local organisation about a partnership to provide the iHost program.

"We are poised and on the verge of a significant announcement about business online with a partner in Australia," Grant said. "The premise is [the partner] has a trusted, established marketplace into which these services could be readily offered."

The Internet Platform Hosting Edition will include Oracle's 8i Enterprise Edition Database, Application Server, Internet Directory, Advanced Security, Enterprise Manager and other products. The suite is being marketed for ISPs and for software vendors to enable them to set up Internet services for businesses in what Mark Jarvis, Oracle's head of Worldwide marketing, said is a "goldrush" of business activity over the Internet.

"The Internet is like a goldrush, and we are providing the picks and shovels that will let the miners go to work."

ISPs, using Oracle databases, servers and related products in the Platform Hosting Edition, will develop services for businesses that go beyond simple Internet access, Jarvis said.

In a sales pitch to more than 300 people attending the event, Jarvis said ISPs, in conjunction with software vendors, would manage traditional business functions like human resources and financial accounting. Businesses moving to Internet activities will be able to save money by reducing their in-house information networks.

"In hosted applications [by ISPs], servers are the network, not the personal computer," he said.

Oracle also will enhance its Partner Program and Technology Network developer portal, which includes new information and software for partners interested in hosting applications.

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