Oracle Pushes Its App Server Toward Grid

Application Server 10G will deviate from the academic approach to grid computing, where a central server "scavenges for unused processing cycles" from computers on the network.
Oracle is regearing its Application Server to take advantage of grid computing and to build more instrumentation into its server engine to monitor how well applications are running.

Pricing and final details of the new release will be aired at Oracle World Sept. 7-11 in San Francisco.

Application Server 10G (the G stands for grid) will deviate from the academic approach to grid computing, where a central server "scavenges for unused processing cycles" from computers on the network. "That doesn't work if you're trying to close the books at the end of the quarter," says John Magee, VP of Oracle Application Server.

Instead, Oracle has made Application Server 10G able to orchestrate the power of many small computers but to do so assuming a certain amount of capacity is available. "An enterprise grid will be more predictable" than an academic grid, says Magee, and makes it more feasible for an application server to regularly tap into extra resources on the corporate network.

The grid-managing capability is a follow-on to the clustering capability that was included in 9i Application Server. Just as 9i can run different apps on different elements of a cluster, 10G will split application workloads across a grid, without requiring changes or grid-enhancements to applications, Magee says.

"Along with the grid model comes a lot more automation," he says. Application Server 10G will be able to provision a grid, or identify and assemble its constituent parts for a given workload, assign tasks at particular times, and dynamically manage a workload as it shifts in requirements.

In addition, Oracle is "pre-instrumenting" Application Server 10G so that it can monitor running applications, determining how long their database requests are taking or how many messages they are generating--measures of how well an application is performing. Such monitoring is typically done by applications external to the application server. Oracle is getting more of the job done inside, Magee says.

JDeveloper, Oracle's Java-based development environment, will include a wider range of integration features so that application development may move closer to a services-oriented architecture approach. Such an approach might create a user-authentication service on the network, then let multiple applications access it, rather than building authentication into each application.

With the 10G release, JDeveloper users will be able to build in XML messaging, use of adapters to connect to enterprise-resource-planning apps such as SAP R/3, and connectivity to a variety of data sources so that each application may interoperate with a wider variety of enterprise software, and tap that software for services.

JDeveloper now provides a framework that separates the building of the user interface of an application from its business logic, so that one may be changed without disrupting the other, Magee says. In addition, the approach aids in the building and reuse of parts of applications for future systems.