Oracle will take the first steps to making its key Application Server product suitable for running mission critical Web based packages when it launches version 4.0 on 25 September.
Application Server is the second largest project in Oracle?s development laboratories - only the core database receives more resources - and acts as the platform for its applications and online analytical processing (Olap) software to run on. It is also integrated with the supplier?s development tools as the de facto deployment environment, and sold as a standalone Web server.
Rohit Kumar, Oracle?s group product manager for Application Server, said: ?Oracle?s reorganisation into two businesses - databases/systems products and applications - was driven by trends in the industry, that is the growth of the Internet and network computing."
He continued: "These phenomena have led to the need for a middle tier running database applications that are driven by thin client computing. As a result, all applications need to be client independent and we?re trying to build a middle tier platform that will respond to that.?
He added that a corporate environment uses an average of 300 applications, some 10 per cent of which were currently Web enabled, although this was expected to rise to 50 per cent over the next two years.
As a result, version 4.0 of Application Server will include support for version 1.14 of the Java Virtual Machine. This allows it to run three types of software components - Jweb, the Oracle equivalent of Sun?s servlets; JCorba, which are objects based on the merged Corba/Java specification; and Enterprise Java Beans.
Unlike its predecessor, which only acted as a Web server and provided database access middleware, the new release, which is due to ship by the end of the year, will include support for transaction processing monitors, operating system services such as directory services, security and transactions, and Oracle?s own object request broker.
However, the company will ship additional Visigenics client libraries, so that users can access Application Server from Microsoft?s Internet Explorer browser.
Version 5.0 is also expected to support message oriented middleware such as IBM?s MQSeries and Java messaging services. This will provide users with asynchronous message queuing to improve support for transaction processing.
On the electronic commerce side of things, Oracle also expects to ship the first in a series of Jumpstart suites in the US next quarter to enable Global 2,000 and mid-sized organisations to set up business-to-consumer sites.
Jumpstart will include a licence for Internet Commerce Server and third party software including Verifone?s payment package, Taxware for calculating international tax rates, and Tandata?s logistics and shipping application. Consulting will also be provided as part of the bundle, but the offering will not ship in Europe until next year.
Oracle intends to focus most of its interest on the business-to-business ecommerce market, however, where it feels it can make the most money. As a result, it will ship a business-to-business server, based on Internet Commerce Server, for bill payment and presentation, in March next year. This will enable customers to pay their telephone bills over the Internet, for example.
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