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October 6, 1999

Oracle Unveils Technology to Lure Microsoft Developers

By CBR Staff Writer

Making a play for one of Microsoft’s most valuable assets – its developers – Oracle Corp yesterday announced a series of new Java-based pre-packaged components which it claims will make it easier for developers to write applications for 8i than for Windows. Oracle says the technology, called Oracle Business Components for Java, is the first Java-based reusable component architecture, enabling developers to write business logic once and deploy it several times across multiple applications.

The aim, says Jeremy Burton, Oracle’s VP of server marketing, is to attract as many Microsoft developers to Oracle’s camp as possible. The company had 40,000 developers a year ago, he said, but now that figure has swollen to 400,000 – and the majority of those are ex-Windows-only developers. Burton says if that number continues to grow at its current rate, Oracle will have over one million developers by this time next year, compared to Microsoft which today has 1.5 million.

The balance of power is changing, he said, developers are beginning to embrace the new wave of internet technologies…but they go against the institution that Microsoft’s built around Windows. He added: This is the first time in a decade where Microsoft finds itself in a world where the vast majority of technologies being used, it doesn’t own. Hence Oracle’s business components for Java, he said. Typically, developers have had to rewrite business logic for each application, he explained. For example, a customer component of an order entry application might define that the customer’s first name can only have 10 characters. In the past, the developer would have written that business logic using components but he or she could only have deployed it once, to the order entry software. The benefit of Oracle’s new architecture is that it enables developers to use that same logic and deploy it to other applications, where, using the above example, the business rules dictating name length might be the same.

The way developers make calls to a database when writing applications tends to involve them using the same code every time but rather than reuse that code they have to rewrite it again every time they do something different, Burton said. So we decided it made sense to write a whole bunch of code that automates that process and lets developers focus on the specifics of the applications, like specific business rules or displaying the information on the screen in the right way.

The idea of packaged components to speed application development is what Microsoft touted with its Microsoft Foundation Classes. They were effectively reusable components for Windows, Burton said, the main difference is ours are written in Java, which can be deployed anywhere, whereas Microsoft’s are C++ and only designed to be deployed on Windows. He added : The whole idea is to build a component framework which is completely independent of how its implemented, that’s what developers need. Burton conceded that making a play for developers is not something Oracle has traditionally been good at, or even bothered to do. You could argue that we’ve just said this is what we’ve got and this is why you should buy it, he said, but that’s about to change, especially with 8i.

He said the business components for Java would come integrated as part of version 3.0 of its JDeveloper suite, which was also announced yesterday. In addition, the new release will include technology to enable developers to create Java-based web server pages, alongside the existing servlets and EJB (enterprise Java beans) functionality. The company also announced version 4.0.8 of its application server. Although Burton talked less about the release, he said a company’s ability to offer both an application server and development tools was key, and was one of the reasons Oracle will succeed in its quest to lure developers to its platform. You only have to look at Inprise, they were a tools- only company but now they’ve just launched an application server as well, he said, vendors are realizing the money is made in deployment…and that they’ll struggle to make money if they haven’t got a platform.

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