December 20/27, 1999
By Rick Whiting
Oracle8i is at the heart of the vendor's efforts to position itself as a broad-based supplier of E-business infrastructure products. It's also a critical component of its Business OnLine application service provider initiative.
Oracle8i was unveiled in late 1998 and began shipping in February; as of Sept. 1, the system had been purchased by 5,400 customers. In addition, by that date, some 256,000 copies of the database had been downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network Web site--Oracle offers its database free to developers.
Calling Oracle8i a database is something of a misnomer. Because the software includes technology such as a built-in file system, an integrated Web server, and a Java Virtual Machine, it has blurred the boundaries between database servers, application servers, and even operating systems--the latter demonstrated by Oracle's backing the idea of "operating systemless" database appliances.
Oracle, in fact, prefers to think of Oracle8i as an Internet platform rather than just a database. The product includes an Internet file system for storing Web pages and data in Internet formats, support for the Extensible Markup Language, and technology for storing and managing disparate content such as text, video, images, and audio. All that allows the database to be used to host Internet applications and content, in addition to serving as a repository for traditional relational data in workgroup and enterprise files.
Along with the Java Virtual Machine, Oracle8i provides support for Java stored procedures and HTTP. For the first time, developers also were given the option of working in Java, rather than being required to use Oracle's proprietary PL-SQL language for database programming. The database includes SQLJ, a programming technology that provides links between Java and relational data. Oracle8i also extends the database's data warehousing, transaction processing, mobile computing, and high-availability features. Of course, it runs on more than just Windows NT.
Rarely have we seen a tried-and-true database developer so thoroughly and successfully transform its core platform.
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