In-Depth

Oracle compares evolution of app server, database

Although analysts tend to rank Oracle Corp. fourth or fifth among app server vendors, the database giant considers itself an innovator and a force in the evolution of app server technology. In fact, Thomas Kurian, senior VP of development in Oracle's app server group, sees parallels between the evolution of the app server and the database.

''Twenty years ago, if you bought a relational database from Oracle or anybody else, you bought a query engine,'' Kurian said. ''Then people wanted transactional capabilities, then warehousing, partitioning, security and clustering. By agglomerating additional facilities, the database has evolved into a more mature technology.''

The same kind of agglomerative evolution that morphed the relational database has been transforming the app server, Kurian said. ''When apps first migrated from desktops to the server, the killer idea was to put all the logic on a server, so that you could access it from lots of different browser clients concurrently.''

Vendors of that first generation of app servers have focused on integrating a growing list of disparate components, said VJ Tella, the chief strategy officer in Oracle's app server group. In December, Oracle unveiled what it considers the first of the second generation of app servers: Oracle Application Server 10g.

Application Server 10g comes with nearly 600 new features, including improved integration capabilities, business process management and real-time BI. And the company is billing it as the world's first ''grid-ready'' application server designed specifically for enterprise grid computing.

Oracle's latest app server grew from the company's conviction that apps are now being built on an Internet model. ''It's a fundamental change in the computing model,'' Tella explained. ''When fundamental changes occur, a class of infrastructure emerges that becomes a cornerstone.''

Please see the following related stories:
''App servers: Up from middleware'' by John K. Waters

''Rivals IBM, BEA set to reveal Java specs'' by John K. Waters

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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