Following on swiftly from the launch of its Network Computing Architecture (NCA) two weeks ago, Oracle has described how it will use the technology to facilitate electronic commerce.
Via NCA, Oracle will provide a number of cartridges which plug into a framework called the Web Application Server (see diagram). This will provide a middle layer between the Oracle Universal Server database and a universal client such as an NC (Network Computer).
Oracle has written a number of NCA-compliant cartridges which slot into the Web Application Server. Among these is Merchant Server, formerly known as Project Apollo, which Oracle said will allow businesses to set up electronic store fronts on the Internet.
The Apollo cartridge offers built-in support for handling tasks such as browsing, personalised marketing and promotions, order entry, inventories, payment processing and order fulfilment. Used in conjunction with another cartridge, the Payment Server, it will provide an electronic payment system that acts as a middleware layer between the NCA application and established electronic payment systems from companies such as CyberCash, First Data and VeriFone.
Oracle is developing a security cartridge to safeguard transactions over the Internet. It has also teamed up with Quark to enable companies to publish sales catalogues on the Web. For example, using a Quark cartridge, catalogue pages created in QuarkXPress could be stored in the Oracle Universal Server.
Oracle also announced two tools to help developers build electronic commerce applications on the Web. One, Oracle Store Builder, provides a suite of customisable pre-built electronic store fronts, complete with wizards that enable developers to build graphical store fronts.
The second, Oracle Store Manager, is a Web-based tool which could be used to adapt electronic store fronts already running on the Web. For example, a Web administrator could use it to add a special offer coupon to his application.
Oracle said Project Apollo, the Quark cartridge and Payment Server will be available in beta by the end of the year. Final products are expected to ship in the first half of next year.
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