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May 1, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:31pm

ORACLE SHIPS PHASE ONE OF ITS NETWORK COMPUTING ARCHITECTURE

By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle Corp is now shipping its Web Application Server 3.0 that has had its proprietary software replaced with a Corba ORB object request broker-based architecture. The Web Application Server is described as phase one of its Network Computing Architecture – NCA and its main Web application transaction server. The Unix version ships this week, but the Windows NT version has been held up because Oracle introduced base development on NT as well as Solaris which meant a lot of developers had to shift around – it should be out by June. The transaction processing capabilities enable persistent sessions to be maintained between Web browsers, applications servers and databases. It uses a single-phase commit and stores the transaction context, or state, on the client rather than on the middle tier. According to Oracle’s principal product manager in the Internet server products group Magnus Lonnroth, this enables Oracle to support transactions across multiple pages on multiple servers by providing a set of transaction application programming interface calls to control the database: the main three being begin, commit, and rollback. Having the middle tier state-less also helps with load-balancing, says Lonnroth because the transaction are more nimble and can be moved quicker when stored on the client. Web Applications Server supports X/Open Ltd’s Tx and XA transaction protocols. Lonnroth said Oracle would introduce two-phase commit in a future version.

Better data integrity

This would require the transaction to call stored procedures on the database to complete the transaction – slower, but with better data integrity. Oracle reckons that this state-less middle tier currently provides sufficient data integrity. Web Applications Server supports Netscape, Oracle and Spyglass Web servers with support for Apache and Novell arriving next quarter. Oracle reckons it gets round bandwidth problems by a combination of its cartridge applications architecture and its own ORB. Oracle has a company-wide license with Visigenic Software Inc. Lonnroth said he was most interested in Visigenic’s Caffeine development tool that allows VisiBroker for Java developers to write Corba objects in Java rather than IDL, and is included in this release. In the next version developers will be able to build cartridges themselves in Java. Oracle said it would offer Visigenic’s VisiBroker ORB as well as its own as part of its Web Request Broker. Right now it comprises Oracle’s ORB plus about 10 processes, doing such functions as object naming through a Virtual Path Manager. It translates URLs Universal Resource Locators into object names and Oracle has submitted it to the Object Management Group, OMG, as a suggested standard. Lonnroth sees Oracle’s main competition as Microsoft Corp’s Internet information Server, IIS, together with its server-side scripting language Active Server Pages – codenamed Denali. But he said Oracle’s approach is simpler, more scalable and can do loadbalancing which he claims Microsoft cannot. He also said IIS binds a client to an ActiveX component in the transaction monitor, locking the server to the client and does not use Corba’s Tx protocol. He said Netscape’s LiveWire Pro was also a competitor and he’s taking a close look at Sun Microsystems Inc’s new Enterprise JavaBeans components. The Advanced version of Web Applications Server will cost $4,000. The standard version, available in early June, which could be combined with the Advanced edition will cost $1,000.

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