At Internet World in Los Angeles this week, Oracle outlined its plans for supporting XML as the foundation for business to business ecommerce.
The company also revealed its roadmap for the Oracle Application Server, which includes a low priced ?Lite? version of the product set to ship later this year.
Oracle said it will this year begin to market a complete XML (eXtensible Markup Language) infrastructure. XML is an extensible version of HTML, the basic format of Web pages but it is also being positioned as a universal format for exchanging information between businesses with heterogeneous systems.
The central part of Oracle?s XML strategy will be an XML messaging server called Oracle Message Broker, expected to ship in the fourth quarter. The Message Broker will route XML messages intelligently, said Oracle. It will also connect to messaging infrastructures such as IBM?s MQ Series.
The announcement follows Microsoft's own take on XML based ecommerce announced last month. Microsoft?s Biz Talk will include an XML server, but also encompasses definitions for industryspecific XML extensions or 'tags'.
?Microsoft with Biztalk is saying: we will define what the tags are,? said Jeremy Burton, vice president of server marketing at Oracle. He said the database company is taking a different route. Oracle?s broker will accept various types of tags, and will be able to convert between them. ?The tags will be defined by the major players in the vertical markets,? said Burton.
Oracle also announced at Internet World an update of Application Server and its future plans for the product. The update, called Oracle Application Server 4.0.8, adds support for the latest Java standards: Enterprise Javabeans (EJB), Java Servlets and Java Server Pages. It will enter beta testing in May. Pricing and availability were not announced.
By the end of the year, Oracle will integrate Application Server with its Enterprise Manager and its recently announced Oracle Internet Directory. The directory integration will offer users a single sign on to Oracle databases and applications running on Oracle Application Server.
Also during the fourth quarter, Oracle intends to ship a low priced ?Lite? version of Application Server, targeted at the entry level Web server market. The server will consist of an HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) listener, a Java Virtual machine and an Object Request Broker. It will be stripped of its failover and load balancing capabilities as well as the ability to run applications that are written in PERL, C++ or Cobol.
The server will compete in a market dominated by free software such as Apache. But Oracle is hoping that businesses will be attracted to the option of scaling to the full-blown product later on.
In recent months, Oracle has positioned its Oracle 8i database as the platform of choice for developing and running Web based applications. But according to Burton, this does not spell the end for Oracle Application Server.
?There are certain situations where you really need to use an application server,? said Burton. For instance, a separate application server running on an off the shelf server can offload processing from a more expensive database server, he continued. Also, the Application Server will be the platform for ISVs who do not wish to tie their applications to the Oracle 8i database, he concluded.
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