Oracle has unveiled a range of internet services intended to rival Microsoft's .Net initiative, but claimed that unlike the Redmond giant's offerings, its products are available now.
They include Oracle9i Dynamic Services, which will enable developers to create, catalogue and manage ebusiness web services for use in portal, wireless internet and intranet applications.
It can be used to build web services that access and aggregate information from any website, database or syndicated content source, and personalise that information for each user based on their role and device type.
Portal.Oracle.com is a hosted environment where developers can build portals online free of charge. It is based around the 9i platform, which includes the 9i database and 9i application server, and includes a Hosted Portal Framework for delivering applications across the internet, as well as Dynamic Services.
Oracle has also transformed its online developer programme into Oracle Technology Network, where developers can collaboratively develop, test and deploy content and applications for enterprise portals and wireless devices. According to Oracle, the Technology Network's community of developers has risen to 1.2 million.
Jeremy Burton, Oracle's senior vice-president of product and services marketing, said: "Oracle provides the fastest way to get everyone on the same home page."
However, some analysts dismissed the announcement as a "quick and dirty" attempt to steal .Net's thunder.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at researcher Giga Information Group, said: "This is quick and dirty, and gives Oracle a chance to say we're in the game, [but] I'm not enthralled.
"Oracle rushed to market with something that gave it a look and feel of what [Microsoft] wants, although Microsoft doesn't have products yet. Neither one is rather substantial, although you could argue Microsoft's offering is more honest."
Jeffrey Mann, vice-president of international electronic business strategies at analyst Meta Group, told vnunet.com: "I was fairly unimpressed. It [Oracle's announcement] looked to be thrown together to compete with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. It looks like packaging rather than doing anything they couldn't do before."
However, he added: "Don't get me wrong. What is there is not bad, but it is pretty limited - it lacks higher management tools and pre-built services.
"Oracle is positioning it as this great framework, but it is really just a beginning. It is far less than what Microsoft has to offer. Right now, Microsoft has a more believable vision, even if they are short of detail on how it will be delivered. Oracle has this limited offering now, but hasn't said how it will develop."
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