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Oracle serves up lower-cost app server

At Oracle OpenWorld, the database software giant touts the application server aimed at midsize companies.

Oracle released on Tuesday an application server aimed at midsize companies, part of the company's drive to spur sales of its server software.

At the Oracle OpenWorld customer conference in London, the company said Oracle Application Server Standard Edition One is available for $4,995 per processor, or $149 per user, with a minimum of five users. The midmarket bundle is the same as the company's existing application server, which costs $10,000 per processor, but is limited to running on two-processor servers.

The new package includes an application server, which is used for running business applications, and portal software, which lets people view and share Web documents.

Oracle has developed a number of simple, frequently used portal applications, such as those for sales and marketing, that are designed to help companies with small technology staffs start using the products quickly, said Rob Cheng, product marketing director for Oracle application server and tools. The midmarket version is also designed to offer simplified installation and administration.

The application server conforms to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3 specification. An edition that complies with the J2EE 1.4 specification, which makes it easier to write Web services applications, is still only available as a technology preview and not yet generally available, Cheng said.

Oracle Application Server Standard Edition One is designed to expand sales of the company's server software line beyond large corporations. Oracle also intends to roughly double the number of employees dedicated to selling its application server line this year to about 420 people.

The company's application server and related products, including portals and integration software, are used as a foundation on which corporations build and run business applications.

These server software suites are viewed as increasingly strategic because customers are standardizing on a single infrastructure for all of their business applications. Packaged-application provider SAP, for example, is getting into application server business in an effort to tap into infrastructure software spending.

According to market research, Oracle has increased its market share in the highly competitive field of infrastructure software, or middleware. Competitors include BEA Systems, IBM and Microsoft.

Also at Oracle OpenWorld, the company said that its database and application server management software will now be able to share information with Hewlett-Packard's OpenView management suite.

Oracle said on Monday that it will ship an update to its E-Business Suite 11i in 60 days. Version 10 of its packaged application suite introduces more capabilities for the health care industry and has new business intelligence, or data analysis, tools.