FRAMINGHAM (06/30/2000) - Oracle Corp. this week announced revamped versions of its application server and database management system designed to provide most of the features enterprise customers need to build and run database applications accessible via the Web.
The drawback with the new Internet Application Server (IAS) and 8i that is that a customer would be buying into a single vendor's view of how to build such applications.
Oracle has added two products to IAS: Developer Server, to run forms-based applications built with an Oracle tool set; and Business Intelligence Server, to run database reports and queries of Oracle data.
Also included is a program for deploying what Oracle calls Business Components in Java. These are created using an approach and tools that Oracle designed to simplify working with the Java language.
A new feature being added to IAS is data caching. Administrators use a browser interface to specify what data, such as an electronic catalog's text and images, should be moved from a back-end Oracle database to IAS. As a result, Oracle executives say, users can access data faster than they could by traveling over the 'Net, back to the database, and creating a new database query.
Oracle says it borrowed the idea from Yahoo Inc., which created its own caching system to efficiently handle huge numbers of Web site hits.
IAS also now incorporates the recently announced Oracle Portal Server. This lets customers set up a corporate Web page that gives authorized internal and external users access to a range of information, such as applications and database reports, via a browser.
IAS can be loaded through a single process. Like 8i, IAS is now priced according to "power units," or calculations based on what features the applications are using, the number of users and the computer chips being used.
Version 3.0 of Oracle 8i, also announced last week, includes the ability to run Java components such as Enterprise JavaBeans and Java Servlet Pages inside the database. The previous version ran only stored procedures, which are like directions given to a database on how to handle data for a given application.
Running these components in the database itself bypasses several layers of communications, which should boost performance.
Oracle also is bundling three development tool sets, and cutting the price of the lot by nearly two-thirds, from $14,000 to about $5,000. The tools are for building Web portals, business intelligence applications such as database reports, and, with Oracle Internet Developer, distributed Java applications.