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New Oracle tech to put steam behind Java

The database giant acquires technology from start-up WebGain that speeds the building of software by connecting Java software code with databases.

Oracle plans to give its software development tool offerings a boost by acquiring technology from start-up WebGain.

Oracle on Friday announced it has purchased WebGain's TopLink, a tool that speeds the building of software by connecting Java software code with databases. As part of the deal, about 90 WebGain employees who develop, sell and support the TopLink product will now become Oracle employees, an Oracle representative said. Financial details were not disclosed.

Oracle, which sells a Java development tool along with its flagship 9i database software, will give the TopLink technology away as a free download on its Oracle developer Web site. It will continue to support the majority of WebGain's 700 customers who use TopLink, the Oracle representative said.

WebGain, maker of a popular Java development tool, was created in December 1999 after e-commerce software maker BEA Systems and investment firm Warburg Pincus Ventures acquired Symantec's Internet tools division for $75 million.

A source close to the company on Friday said WebGain recently underwent large layoffs. Company representatives were not available to confirm the layoffs late Friday.

Like software rivals Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems, Oracle offers programming tools at rock-bottom prices, hoping to seed the market for big-ticket technologies such as operating systems, database software and high-powered servers.