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Oracle9i Application Server Release 2

LTC John Garmany

2008 Update - For a complete treatment of the topic of Oracle security on the web, see these books and resources:

The evolution of successful, streamlined business applications has been challenged by the difficulty of integrating them with complex network architectures. The tools necessary for the application to communicate between separate frameworks have been difficult to coordinate into a seamless system. Oracle designed the Oracle9i Application Server (Oracle Application Server) with the objective of unifying all the diverse elements of the e-business application into a single efficient, reliable, and secure server.

Oracle Application Server has revolutionized the industry by being the first product to integrate the technology required to develop and deploy business portals, transactional applications, and Web services. It has accomplished all this while still managing to be the fastest and most reliable J2EE certified application server on the market.

Oracle Application Server provides a unified method of developing, deploying, and managing applications on the total network, including the Internet and intranet, in a single package. Oracle Application Server was designed to comply 100 percent with standards. It gives developers the ability to create a wide variety of Internet applications, including dynamic and static Web sites, J2EE applications, Web services, enterprise portals, and wireless business intelligence applications. Oracle Application Server contains enterprise-level support for fault tolerance, clustering, online upgrades, and maintenance, and can scale from a single CPU to multiple CPUs.

Oracle believes that applications should be based on an application server rather than the desktop to meet the demands of ubiquitous Internet access. This implementation allows the application to take advantage of the additional information-sharing capabilities available to a dedicated server. Once deployed, the application can communicate easily with other servers. The business runs more efficiently because the service-based architecture (such as Web services) eliminates human intervention. The network is all around us, and the mobile access from handheld phones, Palm Pilots, and laptops, as well as access from traditional desktop computers, will have to be seamless and efficient to be useful. The Oracle application server offers a business streamlined client communications by linking efficiently and securely to both internal and external networks.

Performance of Oracle Application Server

The application server has to be robust, capable, and efficient to support the growing trend in communications complexity. Oracle Application Server runs standard J2EE and Web Services very efficiently. This highly optimization facility extends to all the additional frameworks using the infrastructure for other services such as portals and business intelligence.

The Oracle Application Server Web Cache further enhances performance by significantly reducing the need to regenerate information. The Web Cache is positioned in front of the HTTP server and stores both static and dynamic Web content. It has a number of unique features, including partial-page caching, content-aware Web Server load balancing, the ability to cluster Web caches so that multiple caches operate as a single logical cache, and the ability to cache content from third party servers such as Sun Solaris, IBM AIX, BEA, and others. Internal Oracle tests reveal that adding the Oracle Application Server to a three-tier application (client, application server, database) can reduce the load on the database backend database by 95 percent. The Web Cache feature has a dramatic impact on the ability of the application to scale to meet growing e-business demands.

Scalability of Oracle Application Server

A high performance application server must be able to respond to increasing user needs. Oracle Application Server meets this requirement by internally coordinating the use of available memory and CPU resources through load-balancing and connection routing/pooling. The state failover capability makes it possible to run the same application on single CPU machines or high end SMP-clustered systems without changing the application.

Moreover, a single system can run multiple application servers, which in turn can run multiple Java Virtual Machines (JVM). This allows separate Oracle Application Server instances to be clustered, transparently distributing the workload within the cluster. This configuration also supports Session State replication and Application Failover for both servlets and Enterprise Java Beans.

There are several high-availability features that are fundamental to the ability of Oracle Application Server to scale. These features include automatic connection rerouting, death detection, and automatic restart, as well as the ability to integrate with the Oracle Database Transaction Application Failover (TAF). Add to this impressive list the further capabilities of deploying and updating applications while the server is running, and upgrading the server within a cluster (Rolling Upgrades), and we can begin to appreciate why Oracle Application Server has virtually no downtime.

Oracle Application Server Security

Security is a significant concern with any application on the Web, and Oracle Application Server has an integrated security infrastructure that supports third party and custom applications.

Oracle Application Server Single Sign-On is a key security component. It makes it possible for a user to sign on to the AS once and access not only the available internal applications, but also external applications using an HTTP security interface. The administrator need only enter the user's credentials once, and the application server will validate the user and provide access to authorized components. Oracle Application Server also supports Java's Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS).

To this enterprise level infrastructure Oracle adds a powerful set of facilities to support the development, deployment and management of e-business applications.

Oracle Application Server for the Developer

Oracle has made an extensive effort to insure that application deployment onto the AS is seamless. Oracle Application Server is fully compatible with J2EE version 1.3 and provides complete support for the J2EE 1.3 APIs, including Java Server Pages and Enterprise Java Beans. The AS is also integrated with most Java developer tools and J2EE application frameworks.

The programmer can develop and debug the application within a Java IDE using the Oracle Java Container. The Java Container enhances performance and efficiency by auto compiling Java Server Pages and servlets. It also allows the developer to hot deploy an application into the container without restarting.

The Oracle AS works well with many third party development tools, but it is also closely linked to the Oracle JDeveloper. The JDeveloper offers a business an end-to-end solution for placing their application in a J2EE environment from development through deployment. The JDeveloper provides the developer with several powerful tools, such as profilers, UML modeling, Business Components, and Web Services-based standard J2EE design patterns. The extensive Java XML capabilities are also fully integrated.

Web Services

Oracle Application Server fully supports the emerging Web Services standards for creating service-oriented applications. This includes simple Web services communication standards such as SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI, the complete implementation of XML and Java, and interoperability with the Microsoft .Net frameworks. The integration of JDeveloper with the application server provides a complete infrastructure for developing, deploying, and managing Web Services. Web services management has also been integrated into the Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Enterprise Portals

Enterprise portals provide a secure, personalized place for organizations to find information and applications. Oracle Application Server Portal is a browser-based environment for creating enterprise portals in a secure and manageable setting. It provides a total solution right out of the box. End-users utilize the browser wizard to quickly develop and customize pages that meet their individual preferences. The combined features of Single Sign On, Oracle's UltraSearch, content classification, directory integration, and security provide the total portal framework.


Wireless communication puts the network everywhere, and it can touch everything you own. The successful e-business needs to take advantage of the potential for being connected anywhere, from the phone that surfs the Web, and the DBA who checks the database with a Palm Pilot, to the laptop user that orders on the Web while having a coffee at Starbucks.

The Oracle Application Server "Any Network, Any Device, Any Gateway" fulfills this potential by insuring that any device, network, or wireless protocol can access the application. Using a standards-compliant J2EE and XML programming model, the Oracle AS allows the developer to create and manage applications that can be accessed by the whole spectrum of wireless devices. It isolates the application from the complexity of the wireless protocol by providing an intermediate layer that translates the application XML into the correct format using style sheets. The AS can respond to many separate devices and protocols requesting the same information because of its ability to cache sets of application data in XML format. This facilitates scalability and enhances performance. Oracle can even interact with VoiceXML gateways, allowing users to authenticate by voiceprint!


Integration means bringing all the separate applications and information systems together into a single connected environment. Oracle Application Server provides the necessary infrastructure to link these separate systems into an e-business solution.

The Oracle InterConnect architecture allows a business to model, monitor, and manage the integration of separate applications (including external applications such as SAP or PeopleSoft). The InterConnect system is very flexible allowing for applications that are changed or upgraded. It promotes reuse and reduces complexity, requiring only a limited amount of coding. The developer can use HTML wizards to model business processes, data transformations, and system-integrating end-points, as well as to monitor data and message flow between systems and business operations. A J2EE-compliant Integration Manager monitors data as it flows through the application server, executing integration processes with stored metadata and communicating with external applications through Connectors/Adapters. These Connectors/Adapters use standard protocols and enforce security standards, particularly B2B standards. A business that uses Oracle9i InterConnect can integrate legacy systems, enterprise applications, and databases (whether Oracle or not) into a single infrastructure.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence means determining how a user is interacting with a Web site by tracking his activity, responding with personalized content, and providing the business with decision support facilities. Oracle facilitates business intelligence with a variety of important features.

Oracle Application Server Clickstream Intelligence gathers aggregate information from a Web site, such as throughput, performance, traffic patterns, page effectiveness, and number of new and repeat customers. It is able to uniquely identify users and generates standard and user-defined reports. This is accomplished by utilizing advanced data warehousing capabilities to analyze Web Server Logs, browser cookies, query data, etc.

Oracle Application Server Personalization uses a Data Mining Driven Recommendation Engine to analyze individual Web site users and supplies unique recommendations based on specific behavior. Personalization does not have to sort through massive amounts of "click" data generated on a high traffic Web site because it monitors only specific areas of the site that have been instrumented. It is both efficient and scalable because it stores data in an Oracle9i database.

The Oracle Application Server Discoverer retrieves business information from all integrated systems and applications. This is a powerful tool that analyzes and queries the whole e-business system, providing access to decision support information.

The Oracle Application Server Reports Services can put all this information together in reports that are built and distributed dynamically. Reports Services will create reports with any data and with any output format.

Oracle Application Server provides a whole range of tools for an organization to capture business intelligence about how both they and their users use the Web site.

Coming Attractions

Oracle never allows product development to stand still, and even with an impressive array of features, Oracle Application Server is no exception. The next release is due early in 2003. TopLink has already been integrated into 9iAS, giving developers an easy method of mapping J2EE elements to JDBC databases. Businesses can expect the pending release to offer still further enhanced integration capabilities and simplified application development and deployment. Oracle Application Server is already the best and fastest in the industry, and promises to just keep getting better.




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