According to developers who have worked with the beta of HTML DB, its Web-based interface closely resembles that of Microsoft Corp.s Access in that it puts a front end on the database. Access is a database management program for Office XP that lets novices build applications that integrate with the Web and enterprise data sources. Between the easy-to-use features and the fact that HTML DB is being offered in a hosted environment, some Oracle users say the company is courting smaller customers."[With HTML DB], you dont have to invest in a development environment," said Ian Abramson, chief technology officer of Red Sky Data Inc., in Toronto. "You dont have to worry about setting up the development environment. Thats not a big deal for companies with hundreds of servers. Maybe it is for a company that has one."John Meyer, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., is unsure if developers will accept a hosted environment, saying it is an untested and potentially dangerous scenario. "We have a little skepticism about all the vendors offerings, particularly relative to online hosted environments, because of things like companies having issues with their data being mixed with other companies data," Meyer said. "While some online tool offerings do work, its kind of uncharted waters." Another drawback could be that hard-core developers wont give up the option of tapping away at a keyboard on the train at 2 a.m. But others, like Cox, said theres little development work that can be done without an Internet connection, so that restriction is fine. "HTML DB is cool in that it lets you export the flows and import them into another HTML DB instance, and ... in development mode, the footprint is small enough to work on a laptop," she said. "So, for OracleWorld, Ill use a little [Universal Serial Bus] memory device, save an export to that and import onto my laptop." Typically, an IT department would install HTML DB behind its corporate firewall and make it available as a shared service, Dwight said. Because users access the software via a browser, no installation on the desktop is required. Discuss this in the eWeek forum.