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But with yesterday's posting of a pre-release version of its JDeveloper tool kit for 9i on the Internet, the company has offered some insight into its plans for Web services.
The database giant plans to impart the same "integrated everything" approach that it applies to all its products, from databases to enterprise applications, according to John Magee, senior director of 9i product marketing.
"Oracle has not hyped Web services to the extent that Microsoft has. But we view it as an evolutionary necessity for using the Internet for business," Magee continued.
Within Oracle's integrated approach, which includes the database, application server and applications, it sells an infrastructure for Web services akin to that of Microsoft. On the Java side, its approach is similar to that of IBM, BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.
Peter Urban, an analyst at AMR Research, said the JDeveloper tools are the beginning of Oracle's Web services push. "They have been moving to become more of an infrastructure player for a while now," he said.
While the company has been flexing its marketing muscles towards Web services and has been a general infrastructure player for years, Urban continued, IBM is taking a similar route by closely aligning its Tivoli software, MQSeries, DB2 and WebSphere.
There are advantages to the integrated approaches, said Kathy Quirk, an analyst at Hurwitz Group. "If you're trying to get your customers to move to a new wave of development, you don't want them to have to throw away what they already have," she said.
Quirke added, however, that the vendors collectively need to address more than just building new applications for Web Services.
"There are a lot of unknowns here. Everyone's talking about how to build new applications, but not about how to transition existing applications into Web services," Quirk said.
Earlier this week, SilverStream Software unveiled a new iteration of its application server with support built into the core for Web services standards Extensible Markup Language, Simple Object Access Protocol, Web Services Description Language, and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration. Last Week, BEA Systems shipped WebLogic 6.1, a version of its application server that includes support for the same standards.
Additionally this week, Cape Clear extended the reach of its CapeConnect Web services platform to iPlanet's application server. Prior to that, it worked with servers from BEA and IBM.
Oracle plans to release the final version of its JDeveloper tool for 9i by the end of the year.