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For Oracle, it's ready, set, grid

As the industry continues to embrace grid computing, the software maker is set to ship its Application Server 10g on Thursday and a database update later this month.

Oracle this week plans to move ahead with its grid-ready software with the release of its new application server product.

The company said that on Thursday it will release Application Server 10g, which is used to run business applications.

A companion 10G database server release is on target for delivery by the end of the year, and an accompanying Java toolset called JDeveloper 10g is planned for completion next month, company executives said Wednesday. Oracle has also revamped its systems management software to ease the administration of many servers operating in a grid, executives said.

The grid features within Oracle's software are designed to let companies combine several low-cost hardware servers into a "grid" to do the job of a single large, more expensive server. A multiple-server configuration also gives companies more backup options in the case of a hardware failure, according to Oracle.

With the new software, Oracle is seeking to gain ground on IBM and BEA Systems in the highly competitive market for Java-based server software. For 2002, research company Gartner Dataquest found that IBM and BEA accounted for about two-thirds of all application server revenue, while Oracle had only single-digit market share.

Oracle, however, said that its application server business has seen a "dramatic" increase and now has about 17,500 customers. In March, the company launched a program to entice BEA customers to convert to Oracle's application server, an offer that has been taken up by some customers, said Robert Shimp, vice president of marketing.

"We do continue to promote the BEA switch and save program and we are seeing customers moving over to Oracle, but we think in a lot bigger terms than that," Shimp said.

Oracle is looking for sales growth by pitching its application server outside of its database customer base and by signing on business partners that cater to small and medium-size businesses, he said.

The database maker has improved the business process integration software that runs within its applications, giving customers a way to automate data transfer between internal applications or between business partners.

It has also boosted built-in reporting capabilities so that businesses can view how transactions are flowing through their systems, executives from Oracle said.


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Oracle, like other technology makers including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, has embraced grid technology as a way to maximize use of computing resources, part of a general push for on-demand or utility computing.

Major backers include HP and IBM, which is promoting grid techniques for tasks such as running online games and detailed industrial design programs.

Oracle Application Server 10 is built around the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standard used by competing application servers. The company will add full compliance with J2EE version 1.4 standard "within a few months," said Vijay Tella, chief strategy officer for Oracle's application server line.

A subset of J2EE 1.4 features, which simplify the creation of Web services applications, is available in the Oracle Application Server 10g now, Tella said.

Next month, Oracle will release a final version of its Java-based JDeveloper 10g development tools. The application development product was designed with a "framework" that will allow programmers to use different tools in conjunction with JDeveloper, Tella said.

The Java edition of Oracle Application Server 10g costs $5,000 per processor or $200 per named user; the Standard edition costs $10,000 per processor or $200 per named user; and the Enterprise Edition, which now includes Oracle's wireless software, costs $20,000 per processor or $400 per named user.