TELECOM'99: Oracle looks to make portals portable

At Telecom'99 in Geneva this week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will unveil the details of the company's Project Panama, to be formally called Oracle Portal-to-Go.

At Telecom'99 in Geneva this week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will unveil the details of the company's Project Panama, to be formally called Oracle Portal-to-Go.

Portal-to-Go is ostensibly a software platform that will sit on top of Oracle's Application Server and 8i database, facilitating the connection of wireless devices to the Internet.

"We want to bridge the gap existing between the ocean of content out there and another ocean of unique mobile devices," said Denise Lahey, vice president of the mobile and embedded products group division at Oracle.

What sets Portal-to-Go apart from other wireless Internet connections, such as those relying on microbrowsers, Lahey said, is its reliance on standards, which obviates the need for Web content to be rewritten to accommodate the multiplicity of mobile devices in the world.

Portal-to-Go will also act as a security buffer between Internet content and wireless devices. The two worlds currently rely on different, incompatible technologies for security, making electronic-commerce transactions over wireless devices risky. With Portal-to-Go, however, the two worlds are merged to provide a safe haven for wireless transactions, Lahey said.

"Panama is able to act as the client, supporting cookies, and also supports handheld security protocols," Lahey said. "So we're not only bringing content to wireless devices but solving the security problem so you get truly wireless e-commerce."

More than a simple protocol broker allowing for wireless Internet access and e-commerce, Oracle also hopes that Portal-to-Go will provide a platform upon which its customers, such as telecommunication companies, can create e-services. To that end, Portal-to-Go will ship with a run-time engine and tool-kit to allow service creation.

The benefit for carriers and service providers, Lahey said, is the ability to quickly and reliably build customized value-added services under their own brand and then offer those to their customers on a subscription basis. That, Lahey asserted, will help carriers transform themselves from bandwidth providers to value-added service providers.

Portal-to-Go will ship in the first week of November, and will cost Internet service providers or carriers US$2 per named user per year. Oracle will also offer a perpetual license at $11 per named user, with a 50,000 minimum user requirement. For enterprises, Oracle will offer a perpetual license at $95 per named user, with 200 minimum users required.

Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, California, is at http://www.oracle.com/.

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