Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison officially declared client/server computing dead yesterday. He now believes that Internet computing is the new generation of IT, and Oracle 8i is the database for that trend.
That was the theme of Oracle's press and partner conference in New York yesterday, which focused on the new version of the company's core product, now endowed with sufficient Java features to give it a claim to be the first Internet database.
Ellison said he sees Internet computing as combining the good elements of the mainframe era with the graphical user interface of client/server. It is a "colossal error", he said, to distribute computing power over several sites - contradicting Oracle strategies of years gone by.
"Just imagine online bookseller Amazon.com working in client/server. They'd have to send out millions of diskettes with the software. No wonder this industry cannot grow for lack of IT staff," he said.
Internet computing will provide a recentralisation of computing power. "The Oracle database is already the foundation of all scalable Web sites," says Ellison. "Oracle 8i is even better."
New features in Oracle 8i include a built-in Java Virtual Machine, an Internet File System (iFS), the WebDB Web development environment and support for several Java standards.
The built-in Java Virtual Machine allows developers to write, store and execute Java code within the database, as well as create stored procedures, database functions and event triggers in Java.
Oracle 8i also introduces SQLJ, a programming syntax Oracle developed with IBM and Sun, which has also been endorsed by other database vendors. SQLJ allows links between Java and relational databases and will also be an embedded part of Oracle JDeveloper.
Oracle iFS allows users to store Web pages, documents, spreadsheets, word processing files, images and other files directly within the database.
"Microsoft said we couldn't do this without rewriting the database," said Ellison. Oracle iFS adds to the extensibility features of the object relational database and allows 'store once, use anywhere'.
By using the term 'Internet computing' for the new trend, Oracle has in fact dropped its proprietary 'network computing architecture' (NCA). According to Ellison, NCA was a clever rebranding of the Internet by Oracle, but the company will now stick to the industry term.
According to the company's president, Ray Lane, the database and Oracle's Application Server will merge over time. Running Java applications in 8i is a first step in that direction.
He admits Oracle 8.0 was light on features and attributes that to competitive pressure. "Informix' marketing for its Universal Server forced us to provide features in 7.3 that were intended for Oracle 8," he said.
Oracle 8i is now in beta with customers and partners and is due to ship at the end of this year. Competitor Informix last June announced its Java strategy, also including Java VM and support for SQLJ. Informix products will also hit the market at the end of this year.
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