Oracle 9iAS Struggles to Keep Up With Hype

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-12-17 Print this article Print

If Real Application Clusters isn't the breakthrough database technology that Larry Ellison said it is, he's going to take up sailing full time.

If Real Application Clusters isnt the breakthrough database technology that Larry Ellison said it is, hes going to take up sailing full time.

Ellison may well be sailing more next year, when the Ellison-sponsored Oracle racing team vies for the Americas Cup. Interestingly, the focus of Oracle OpenWorld earlier this month was not on RAC or databases at all, but on Release 2 of Oracles application server—9iAS. With the announcement of the app server, Oracles gung-ho leader—the last interesting character in the software world—roasted his two closest rivals, BEA and IBM.

Its highly entertaining stuff, but Im never sure the full story is being told. Take Oracles major claims:

Oracle lags behind BEA and IBM because its new in the market. Not quite. Oracles been in the app server market for years. Perhaps Ellison means that Oracles new to the J2EE market, or maybe just the "working" application server market.

Oracles app server is far faster than BEAs WebLogic and IBMs WebSphere. In some recent tests, it appears that Oracle 9iAS is indeed faster than WebSphere, but a closer look shows that it was tested against an old version of WebSphere. New numbers are due in February—Id wait for those.

Oracles application development platform is more integrated than BEAs and IBMs. Its more integrated because there are fewer things to integrate. It doesnt have many of the capabilities that other app servers have, such as full heterogeneous transaction support across a multitude of systems.

Oracles growth exceeds that of BEA and IBM. I sure hope so. Oracles coming from a place so low on the totem pole that 100 percent growth doesnt amount to all that much. Its a good start, but we have to make sure Oracle isnt counting those giveaway app servers.

Oracles application server costs less than BEAs or IBMs. Who knows? It might be free for the big customers. Is it because you get less? IBM, at least, is having none of the cost claims. "An act of desperation," several IBM officials said. "Its an interesting way to generate news."

Thats where I come in. Oracle 9iAS looks like great technology if you can get past the marketing campaign.

Who is using 9iAS? I want to hear from you. Write to me at

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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