Oracle NC architecture fosters online commerce

Oracle has been touting its Network Computing Architecture (NCA) cross-platform object environment in Hong Kong.

Oracle has been touting its Network Computing Architecture (NCA) cross-platform object environment in Hong Kong and the company has also outlined new electronic commerce products that support the new platform.

Oracle's NCA is a software architecture for network computers that bridges competing technologies by supporting both Microsoft's ActiveX and Object Management Group's CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture. The architecture will allow application servers, databases and clients to work together regardless of the programming model used. Applications supporting NCA also will be able to run across on the Internet, intranets and electronic commerce platforms.

As part of Oracle's bid to get involved in the electronic commerce game, the company has also announced its plans for a merchant server "cartridge" application, code named Project Apollo, which is supported by the NC architecture. According to Mark Jarvis, vice-president of server technologies marketing at Oracle, the Apollo Merchant Server will ship sometime during the first quarter next year. "It's now going into testing," he says.

Beta customers in the US will be announced soon, he says. Among customers for the electronic commerce products, Jarvis says that Oracle is targeting telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, banks, retail organisations and publishing houses.

The Java-based merchant server will include Oracle Payment Server, which will process electronic payments from CyberCash, First Data, VeriFone and other vendors. Additionally, Apollo will allow customers to track items selected by consumers and maintain shopper profiles, as well as allow consumers to do searches for items based on keywords and themes.

The merchant server functions as a cartridge, or application program, that interoperates with Oracle Universal Server and plugs into the Oracle Web Request Broker, which links Web servers to live applications and databases and can dynamically generate HTML-formatted data in real time. Cartridges, a key component to Oracle's Network Computing Architecture, plug into client, application server or database software.

Jarvis believes Oracle is further along than any other company in the electronic commerce field, especially when it comes to open-standards systems. However, he acknowledges that a product is not available yet.

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