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E-commerce blitz by Oracle

The software maker will next week announce partnerships and new products intended to set it apart from the growing e-commerce crowd.

    Aiming to make its Internet commerce product line stand out in an increasingly crowded market, Oracle next week will announce partnerships with several companies for personalizing and managing content on e-commerce sites.

    At next week's Internet World show in Chicago, Oracle will announce that Firefly Network, MicroMass, and First Floor will ship personalization cartridges that work on top of Oracle's Web Application Server, which allows merchants to gather data on shopper preferences. Oracle's own Internet Commerce Server, another cartridge, also supports some personalization features.

    Web Application Server is Oracle's combined Web server and application middleware server. The product has been shipping since earlier this year, priced from $295 per CPU for the standard edition and $995 for the advanced edition.

    Oracle will also announce that it is backing the Open Profiling Standard, or OPS, an emerging protocol designed to let individual users control what kind of personal data is released to Web sites.

    Personalization is considered a key advantage of Internet commerce, because it allows Web merchants to custom target their offerings to individual visitors, potentially driving up sales rates. But critics worry that it might violate privacy. The OPS protocol, being developed through the World Wide Web Consortium standards body, is designed to address those concerns.

    As reported in April by CNET's NEWS.COM, the database giant will unveil the first version of its Proxy Server, now due to ship by September.

    The Proxy Server is designed to make it easier for intranet users to use the public Internet and to let companies block employees from visiting certain sites. Filtering will come from Spyglass SurfWatch software.

    Others content partners debuting Oracle cartridges include: Coris, a subsidiary of RR Donnelley, which produces an electronic cartridge that allows users to create custom publications; Portland Software, which creates secure containers to distribute software over Net; and Magnifi's Smart Media cartridge to manage multimedia content.

    Oracle said it also will add new payment methods for its Internet Commerce server, adding to cartridges from VeriFone and CyberCash, which are already shipping.