Oracle users get souped-up version of Netscape Navigator

Oracle's network computing architecture has gained an important credibility boost with the announcement of an NC-capable version of Oracle Applications. Oracle customers who choose to deploy any of the 35 application modules in a Java-based browser implementation will be the first in the world to use a JDK 1.1-compliant version of Netscape Navigator 4.0. Although the browser-only option makes network computer deployment possible for the first time, Oracle is emphasising that users will be equally able to run the applications over any intranet. Oracle has worked with both Netscape and Javasoft for the past six months to develop a patch which brings Navigator's Java support up to scratch. The commercial version of Navigator is not expected to reach JDK 1.1 until its 5.0 release next year

Oracle’s network computing architecture has gained an important credibility boost with the announcement of an NC-capable version of Oracle Applications.

Oracle customers who choose to deploy any of the 35 application modules in a Java-based browser implementation will be the first in the world to use a JDK 1.1-compliant version of Netscape Navigator 4.0.

Although the browser-only option makes network computer deployment possible for the first time, Oracle is emphasising that users will be equally able to run the applications over any intranet.

Oracle has worked with both Netscape and Javasoft for the past six months to develop a patch which brings Navigator’s Java support up to scratch. The commercial version of Navigator is not expected to reach JDK 1.1 until its 5.0 release next year.

Kerry Lamson, Oracle’s VP of applications marketing, says there will now probably be a trend to specialised OEM versions of Navigator adding such features ahead of commercial releases.

“You need your broswer to be able to run JDK 1.1.4 to be able to run the Oracle Applications suite — and that’s because we believe you need those kinds of enhancements that were put into those code sets by our partners to actually give you the kind of performance you’ve been accustomed to in using business applications,” Lamson said at last week’s Oracle OpenWorld in Melbourne.

“What we’re able to do is provide our business customers with the upgrade that they’ll be able to bring down and run on top of Navigator 4.0, that will give you that capability. That’s something we’ve worked with our partner on and is only available for Oracle and Netscape.”

Oracle Applications version 10.7 went production in February this year in a Windows client-server mode. Lamson says the new Java-based version offers “exactly the same functionality, all the same products, but now with a Web deployment option which will allow customers to run these on a browser install-only model on a desktop.”

The collaboration between the three companies also involved additions and enhancements to the Java APIs — such as support for function keys and multi-byte character sets — and Oracle’s venerable Developer 2000 tools.

Oracle has had 27 corporate customers, including Honeywell and Sun, in a beta programme for the new product, and Lamson maintains that “many customers in the next six months will be running in this deployment mode.

“Ultimately we believe if you have the choice and all the functionality and none of the complexity and none of the problems. Especially in corporate intranets, where the benefits are mostly in labour,” Lamson said.

“It is not about the device. It’s about the labour it takes to manage it all.”

Lamson flew to New Zealand for meetings after the Melbourne show and Oracle New Zealand’s applications spokesman Richard Vernon says the beta code has already been demonstrated to local customers, “who have expressed a lot ofinterest”.

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