Oracle Corp. is working to certify its E-Business Suite of enterprise applications for use with the companys forthcoming Oracle 10g database and application server, which will be optimized for grid computing.
Oracle officials said that the beauty of its Oracle 10g technology is that it will allow users to run the companys applications on a grid without modification. Nevertheless, Oracle as part its long-term development of E-Business Suite is augmenting proprietary applets, called forms, with Java. Once the forms are changed, the applications will potentially be able to run on any Java application server, freeing them from dependence on Oracle Application Server.
Oracle applications have always supported integration broker and message broker technologies in third-party application servers, an Oracle spokeswoman said, and further Java support will enhance that. The company will not transfer Oracle application logic to third-party application server, she added.
Sources familiar with the direction of Oracles application development, said this addition of Java servlets in Oracle E-Business Suite will give Oracle application customers the potential to use third-party application servers.
Traditionally, servlets provide a component-based, platform-independent method for building Web-based applications. Some of E-Business Suites self-service applications already have servlets, but Oracles latest effort will add servlets to the suites core transactional applications.
Oracle is expected to address its plans regarding E-Business Suite at its Oracle AppsWorld conference in San Diego this week. The company will also discuss an outsourcing strategy and a new radio-frequency identification component, according to company officials in Redwood Shores, Calif., who declined to be specific.
Nevertheless, Oracle customers are excited about the prospect of adding servlets to E-Business Suite.
“Thats huge,” said Basheer Khan, senior director of IT at Vertex Systems Inc., an Oracle systems integrator and Oracle E-Business Suite customer in Los Angeles. “But Oracle has a challenge there. … [I suspect] Oracle will open up the applications [to run on third-party application servers], but there will be features that work best on the [Oracle 10g] application server, so theyll have an edge. Theyll put in some hooks and handles that make [the new] technology run best on their technology.”
The Oracle 10g database and application server, which was announced last fall and is due this month, features new grid computing capabilities that Oracle applications cannot take advantage of until they are certified. The applications are certified to run on Oracles Real Application Clusters technology, the forerunner of Oracle 10g.
The process of certifying Oracles 11i E-Business Suite with 10g is expected in the next six months.
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“This is the single most important thing to me, the coupling of their applications with 10g,” said Bill Streb, manager of Oracle strategy, platform and projects at Xerox Corp., which runs one of the largest Oracle application installations. “The apps on 10g start to give you the ability to run nonstop processing.”
Streb runs 54 implementations of Oracles software in Xerox plants around the world, in addition to running Oracle applications for purchasing and finance organizations. “Because I have 61 applications, I see the difficulty of upgrades and interactions between the products,” said Streb in Rochester, N.Y. “Today, it might take me three days to do a major upgrade. I believe [Oracle] has things that [bring that time to] sub-6 hours on the drawing board. With 10g, I should be nearly there.”
Oracles replacement of its proprietary forms with a more open component is akin to e-business applications rival SAP AGs move over the last couple of years to open up its monolithic architecture by combining its proprietary Business Application Programming Interface language with Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition in its application server. Like SAP, Oracle will likely face challenges as it moves forward.
“In both cases, they have some antiquated and specific programming environments, tools and other mechanisms that they have as legacy that is very difficult for companies to get over,” said Jim Murphy, an analyst with AMR Research Inc., in Boston. “[The redesign] is not going to come without its struggles for customers.”
Murphys caveat for Oracle customers: Applet-to-servlet migration will not prove a huge problem if they havent customized their applications.
“If they customized, there is going to be a problem,” Murphy said. Even with the servlets, Oracle will likely make it less expensive to use the Oracle application server over third-party software, he said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include corrected information for inaccurate or incomplete information supplied by the company.