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Oracle steps up Internet caching presence

    Oracle stepped up its ever-expanding presence in the Internet infrastructure market Tuesday, turning up the heat on the likes of Inktomi, CacheFlow and Akamai Technologies.

    At an analyst meeting Tuesday, CEO Larry Ellison said Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) will enter the fast-growing market for caching Internet pages.

    Its iCache product will be available next month and will be built into its latest database product called 8i. He did not say whether the service would be an extra feature users would have to pay for, or would be counted as part of the cost of buying a database.

    "The iCashe product came from just studying the largest volume Web sites and (asking) 'How can we eliminate all the customization (required for) caching?''' Ellison told the analysts, referring to Yahoo Amazon and eBay.

    In an earlier presentation, Oracle vice president Gary Bloom said: ``We think we're at the early stages of margin improvement.''

    Oracle shares took a beating in early trading Tuesday before closing off a modest 15/16 to 75 15/16.

    Inktomi (Nasdaq: INKT), Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM) and CacheFlow (Nasdaq: CFLO) have all watched their stock prices skyrocket in the past six months as business ramp up there caching technology to booming traffic.

    When it reported fiscal third quarter earnings two weeks ago, Oracle said its operating margins widened significantly due to ongoing efforts to use its software to transform into an e-business.

    Reuters contributed to this report.>