1999 Product of the Year: Back-end Servers

Oracle Corp. Oracle8i

MANY BACK-END services last year gained greater integration with a multitude of midtier products, which helped sites that needed to rapidly roll out distributed electronic-business applications. The addition of Web standards on the back end with an increased focus on security created a sharp rivalry among providers of back-end products.

After considering the back-end offerings that we evaluated during 1999, we selected Oracle8i as the winner of the Back-End Services Product of the Year.

The newest release of Oracle's flagship database stands apart from rivals on several fronts. In particular, Oracle8i boosts database support for Java and Web-content management and offers multiple object models and security-policy options.

If you move to Oracle8i, prepare to invest in training costs for administrators and developers -- this release contains many new and enhanced features that will require some staff education. But once the initial ramp-up is complete, you can expect long-term savings in the form of increased manageability and new application possibilities that can aid in generating revenue.

Of particular interest in Oracle8i is JServer, a Java virtual machine that runs within the Oracle8i database. The company has also announced plans to eventually increase Java support for the database to include a native-code compiler, among other features. Moreover, the newest version of the Oracle database includes a "virtual private database" function that lets customers set security at a table or view level rather than in individual applications.

Also, Oracle8i links closely with the company's WebDB product, a set of tools that helps organizations closely but flexibly manage Web content creation and modification. WebDB, together with Oracle8i's interMedia support, enables companies to easily include audio, video, geographical, image, and text components in Web applications (see our Enterprise Computing review on Oracle WebDB 2.0, www.infoworld.com/printlinks).

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