Release 2 Brings Oracle8i Power Anywhere

We're happy to report that leveraging Linux with Oracle8i Release 2 to support e-business applications is a solid bet. The latest version of the venerable database boasts a number of additions and enhancements that make it ideal for supporting an e-business running on Linux, whether you're upgrading or purchasing the database management system for the first time.

With this release, Oracle Corp. continues to apply pressure on rival IBM Corp. and its DB2 database offering on Linux. Because Oracle did such a good job porting its world-class DB to Linux, giving even more options for installation, we gave it our highest score of Excellent.

Linux is available for free or low cost, and that is an attractive part of this picture. But you will want to purchase support for the operating system and invest in hardware that's beefy enough to successfully manage the database services you need to support via Oracle8i.

The second release of Oracle8i, in particular, adds new SQL functions that make it easier to create and execute business intelligence applications. For example, we found several of the new functions useful in speeding up the process of creating test applications. Some of the functions, including ranking, moving aggregates, and period-over-period comparisons, make it easier to evaluate business metrics such as sales or inventory levels.

Oracle continues to enhance support for Internet-related technologies. In this release, Oracle's built-in Java virtual machine, known as JServer, shows signs of being noticeably faster than the previous release.

In addition, support for Java2 has been added and XML functionality has been expanded. The vendor included an XML parser for Java in Release 2 of Oracle8i.

In this latest version, the XML parser classes are preloaded into JServer, which helps speed things along because you do not have to load the classes before performing parsing operations.

New in Release 2 is the addition of PL/SQL Server Pages -- server-side Web pages that combine HTML or XML with built-in PL/SQL scripts. PL/SQL Server Pages make it easier to get database content into Web pages. This is ideal for database applications we created, including some that support customer service representatives doing Web-based account lookups and using sales information entry applications.

But we had to have a PL/SQL Web gateway (found in other Oracle products) on hand to develop and deploy the PL/SQL Server Pages. This means that customers implementing PL/SQL Server Pages with Oracle8i Release 2 will need to purchase additional Oracle products. Oracle should provide a built-in PL/SQL Web gateway in Release 3 of the database.

Security is also the focus in Release 2 of Oracle8i. Improvements include SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption for IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol), which enables secure Enterprise JavaBeans and enhanced support for PKI (public key infrastructure).

Oracle8i Release 2, when implemented on the Linux platform, is a rock-solid choice for companies that are seeking a reliable database serving solution.

Support for the latest Internet technologies together with the core strengths of the Oracle database and the Linux operating system make this an ideal e-business investment.

Maggie Biggs is director of the InfoWorld Test Center. Reach her at maggie_biggs@infoworld.com.

THE BOTTOM LINE: EXCELLENT

Oracle8i Release 2

Business Case: Additions and enhancements to core database services combined with Linux reliability make Oracle8i a solid bet.

Technology Case: Focus on performance, availability, data warehousing, Java, and XML make Oracle8i on Linux well-suited for deployment anywhere.

Pros:

+ New analytic SQL functions

+ Addition of PL/SQL Server Pages

+ Java2 support

+ XML parser for Java

+ Strong security measures

Cons:

- PL/SQL Web gateway not built-in

Cost: US$750 per named user on multiserverPlatform(s): Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Windows, and more than 70 othersOracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.; (800) 672-2531; www.oracle.com.

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