Oracle is banking that release 2 of its 9i application server will erode the market share of its competitors.
Oracle previously touted support of standards and performance as 9iAS main advantage over competitive offerings from BEA and IBM. Now, Oracle is focusing on caching. There are two new features in Release 2: clustering of the cache using low-cost hardware and support for dynamic caching, by far the most interesting feature.
In traditional Web site architectures (which Oracle calls legacy), the cache was placed at the Web server, at the proxy server or somewhere in a content delivery network. By their nature, these were usually static caches, which was useful because most Web content was, in fact, static.
New architectures require the ability to cache generated and personalized data. To do this, Oracles Web Cache enables administrators to embed users session IDs in every URL and cache them, a function that is exclusive to 9iAS, Oracle officials said.
In addition, Oracle continually parses baseline static versions of the page, caching them normally while picking out the personalized strings. If a personalized string can be cached, it will be. If not, the rest of the page will be cached in any case.
Most of these advanced caching features are part of a technology called Edge Side Includes (see www.esi.org). Oracle is a major endorser of the technology. Other vendors endorsing it include BEA and IBM, indicating that theyll support it soon but probably at an additional cost, since both companies typically sell their wares a la carte.