Oracle revs up app server for marketplace

Oracle Corp. last week announced the latest version of its Oracle9i Application Server, which the company claims eliminates the need for costly middleware integration and includes enhancements for business intelligence and wireless support.

Among the enhancements are a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol directory, a messaging server, unified messaging architecture and an embedded workflow engine, said John Magee, senior director of Oracle9i marketing.

Oracle has also added workflow and visual design tools and out-of-the-box adapters for common application-to-application integration.

The company claims that eliminating the need to integrate third-party applications gives the product a leg up on other Java-based application server products, such as San Jose-based BEA System Inc.'s WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere.

"As companies are moving to make Internet computing part of their mainstream IT infrastructure, they're having to put all of these pieces together from different vendors," said Magee. "That's becoming more and more of a cost issue for these companies. So the goal was to provide a product above and beyond the core Java application server."

Downloads of Oracle9iAS from the company's developer community Web site reached 370,000 in December, Magee said. Oracle has registered more than a million downloads for its Internet Application Server since it was introduced.

"Anything that makes it easier for the developer to interface with the database will be welcome," said Rich Niemiec, president of the International Oracle Users Group - Americas, a Chicago-based organization for Oracle's database users. "Improvements concerning e-mail and wireless are what developers [and] partners are asking for most right now, and they want easy interfaces to the database."

Although several of the announced enhancements can be classified as elements of an Internet application platform, some appear to be Oracle's attempt to redefine the standard for Internet Application Server, said Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Clients are increasingly looking to get more of these product components from one vendor, and Oracle needs to have such a complement of products to compete across the whole platform," said Gilpin. But, he added, users have shown that they are quite happy to get their database management system from a different vendor than other elements of the platform.

Oracle9i Application Server costs US$5 per Universal Power Unit (UPU) for the standard edition, $30 per UPU for the enterprise edition and $150 per UPU for the wireless edition.

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