Oracle to tout XML in database

Oracle Corp. plans to evangelize forthcoming versions of its Oracle 9i Application Server and Database during its annual OpenWorld show in San Francisco early next month.

The upcoming version of the relational database will contain a secret-sauce technology called XDB (XML database support) that represents a technical advantage over rival IBM Corp., said Jeremy Burton, Oracle’s vice-president of worldwide sales. “This one should have IBM scratching its head over what to do next,” he said.

Although Burton declined to detail what will be new about XDB in the next iteration of the database, it is a feature in the current 9i database, at least according to Oracle’s Web site.

Both IBM and Microsoft Corp. have also increased the level of XML support within their databases during the past several months.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle is also looking to move up in the application server market with its forthcoming Oracle 9i Application Server, Burton said.

Recent Gartner figures show that Oracle is fourth in market share, tied with Hewlett-Packard Co. Bluestone at 4 per cent.

“Right now IBM seems to have the momentum. The third and fourth tier players are dropping off. They are cutting prices on their products and it is hurting their profits,” said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis Inc.

Burton said he believes that when the second tier competitors drop off or get bought, corporate users will be more aggressive in their purchases from the remaining vendors.

But Willet said Oracle is at a competitive disadvantage because it lacks supplemental tools including EAI (enterprise application integration). Vendors such as IBM are already bundling more and more functionality into their application servers.

“Many vendors are moving beyond the basic Java services and beginning to include EAI tools and business process management functions into application servers. We may see this from Oracle in December,” Willet said.