Oracle's Internet platform announced last week by the database giant promises simpler Internet application development by removing the need for users to purchase separate middleware.
For the past few years, Internet application development has been based on what is widely referred to as a three-tier client-server architecture, comprising a database, application server and middleware.
Oracle has introduced the Oracle Internet Application Server (iAS), which it has integrated with the company's 8i database server, removing the necessity and expense of supporting third-party middleware, the company said.
Carolyn Patterson, Internet platform marketing manager at Oracle, said that for most IT departments 80% of their budget is spent on infrastructure. "The more moving parts in a system, the more expensive it becomes to integrate."
Ronan Miles, chairman of the Oracle User Group, welcomed the initiative as it would guarantee a user's configuration of Oracle software would work.
Support and maintenance of Oracle software has been difficult to-date because different version numbers in Oracle software make it easy for a user to end up with an unsupported configuration. "The fact that users can now get all the Oracle software in one box makes application development easy."
However, Dale Vile, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, said businesses need to be careful that the tight integration promised by Oracle between the 8i database and the iAS package does not become a lock-in. "While both Oracle 8i and iAS are open components, the key is not to use the products in a way that makes them dependent on one another," he said.
The iAS platform offers several built-in middleware services for Web hosting and caching; business intelligence; client server and component-based development. The iAS Portal Services allows businesses to build their own portals such as an internal company portal using the Oracle Portal Framework.
Components, called portlets, can be plugged into the framework to provide access to Web-based information services, corporate information and search engines.
The Oracle iAS product works in conjunction with Oracle Internet Developer Suite, a bundle of software tools which includes J Developer (Java development), Forms (client server development), Discoverer (business intelligence) and Designer (software modeling).