Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, used the giant Oracle Openworld user conference in San Francisco to launch his company's next generation Internet software, Oracle 9i. The new strategy is based on the Oracle 9i application server and the Oracle 9i database.
Oracle emphasised that the two products are tightly integrated. "The Oracle 9i database and Oracle 9i application server are designed to work together with dramatically simplified administration. Because all critical functionality is included in Oracle 9i, costly software integration and maintenance costs are removed," the company said.
Oracle has also highlighted its significant investment in wireless technology, with the integration of its Portal-to-go technology into the 9i application server. The middleware develops and deploys wireless Internet content and application services and is targeted at carriers, consumer portals, Application Service Providers (ASPs) and corporations. Oracle says it will be available in December 2000.
Thomas Kurian, vice president, e-business, told Computer Weekly that the company had 400 developers working on wireless applications and that its 9i application server wireless edition "will connect in any language, to any network, to any device, through any protocol".
Oracle claims its pre-built adapters for wireless e-mail and directory integration will steal a lead on its competitors who only offer transcoding systems which convert HTML web content to wireless format.
The wireless infrastructure software market is expected to grow to approximately 1.2 billion subscribers worldwide by 2003, according to The Yankee Group, which cites Europe as the most mature market.
"The convergence of Internet and wireless communications will result in millions of people accessing the Internet through wireless devices, creating large revenue opportunities for wireless platforms and applications," said The Yankee Group's director of wireless/mobile services David Bishop, in an Oracle statement. "The leaders of this market will produce reliable, scalable software along with features that make it easy for their customers to go from web to wireless."
Another key feature of Oracle 9i is new caching technology that the company said would improve performance and scalability of e-business applications and websites. Oracle's 9i application server offers a database cache and a web cache sitting between the server and the browser to speed performance.
The company has also developed "cache fusion" technology which, it is claimed, offers "an order of magnitude improvement in performance and reliability". Carl Olofson, Program Director for information and data management software research at analysts IDC said, 9i's "shared cache" environment may profoundly alter the database market.
"Oracle has created a sophisticated architecture that makes it easy for any IT department, any ASP, to quickly scale their systems in two separate dimensions: processing and storage," he said. "The ability of Oracle's customers to dynamically redistribute IT resources, depending on their day to day, or even hour-to-hour demands will ultimately get the greatest value out of their computing investment," added Olofson.
Dwight Davis, research director at analysts group Summit Strategies said Oracle's move was a reaction to market pressure from competitors such as IBM. "In the past, Oracle placed 90% of their emphasis on the database and the application server was a poor second cousin," he said.