Oracle counters Microsoft's .Net initiative

Countering the .Net initiative that bitter rival Microsoft announced earlier this year, Oracle has released software for use in developing and managing online services.

In a swipe at Microsoft, which doesn't expect to deliver a full portfolio of its .Net-based technologies for two years or more, Oracle is informally referring to its Oracle9i Dynamic Services software as .Now.

"There is a tough decision to be made," said James Governor, an analyst at US-based consultancy Illuminata.

Noting that users will have to decide between Microsoft's and Oracle's approaches to tying their applications to Web services, Governor suggested enterprise users should start getting their developers to test both sets of tools now and decide which vision is best for their company.

Barry Goffe, a manager of .Net development at Microsoft, claimed that Oracle is using Dynamic Services as a way to "lock customers into end-to-end Oracle solutions". The application programming interfaces being rolled out would require users to tear out their infrastructure and replace it with Oracle, Goffe said.

Not so, said officials at Oracle. The software will work with services built on top of Microsoft's .Net specifications, according to an Oracle spokeswoman. "There's nothing proprietary about it," she said.

Driven by Standards

According to Oracle officials, the applications will be able to use XML, Java and other standard technologies to place system calls to Web sites, online databases, sources of aggregated content, and other services built on the Internet to carry out tasks ranging from currency conversion to processing health insurance claims.

Central to Oracle9i Dynamic Services is a policy and service management engine that dictates how Web-based services operate, Oracle said. Application developers will be able to create rules that customise services for users.

Nardo Manaloto, a business development director at Oracle user e21, said the new software should give Oracle "a fighting chance" in the market for tools that can be used to build integrated Web services. "Oracle needs to have an answer to Microsoft's [.Net] strategy," said Manaloto, whose company offers marketing services to corporate clients.e21 is installing Oracle's financial applications and expects the Dynamic Services software to help solve some of the front-end problems that arise when doing such things as integrating different Web sites, Manaloto said.

Dynamic Services is included free of charge as part of the current release of the Oracle 9i database. Oracle said software developers can download a tool kit from its Web site.

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