The Internet has introduced enormous opportunities for companies to customize and streamline their internal business processes. But these opportunities bring new challenges: Applications must be made available on the Internet in rapid time and must scale to serve very high numbers of users.
The use of middle tier application servers promises to shrink development time and expense by providing scalable infrastructure, transactional management, portal services, business intelligence functionality, and integration.
Unfortunately, most vendors' application server products target only a subset of these services, leading customers into the dark, tangled forest of integrating products from multiple vendors.
Oracle helps its customers find a clear path through this heavy growth by offering a simple, complete, and integrated Internet platform composed of three core products:
One way Oracle's Internet Platform reduces the total cost of ownership of a corporate IT infrastructure is by eliminating the expense of integrating multiple products from various vendors. With the Oracle Internet Platform, customers can refocus their IT resources on creating true, value-added services to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Oracle Internet Application Server (iAS) combines with Oracle8i and the Oracle Internet Developer Suite (iDS) to provide everything necessary to build, deploy, and manage Internet applications. Together, they constitute an Internet platform that is simple, complete, and integrated.
Oracle iAS, Oracle8i, and Oracle iDS are simple to buy, simple to install, and simple to manage. All of Oracle's core middle-tier services and core development tools, including Oracle Forms Server and Oracle Forms Developer, have been integrated. Application services have been integrated into Oracle iAS. Development tools have been integrated into iDS. These integrations enable customers to build and deploy portals, transactional applications, and business intelligence facilities with just three products.
With Oracle8i to manage data, Oracle iDS to build applications, and Oracle iAS to run them, the Oracle Internet Platform is a complete solution for building any type of application and deploying it to the Web. These Oracle tools provide a scalable and highly available infrastructure that enables customers to easily accommodate growing user populations.
Oracle iAS is simply the best application server for the Oracle8i database and applications built with Oracle development tools. By leveraging a common technology stack, Oracle iAS can transparently scale an Oracle database by caching data and application logic on the middle tier. Additionally Oracle iAS inherits much of its robust scalability and availability features from the mature technology of Oracle8i.
The Internet has moved application architectures from a typical 2-tier client/server model to a variety of multi-tier deployments that host presentation and business logic on the server. The advantages inherent in this move are many:
The Oracle Internet platform is the lowest-cost deployment platform because it simplifies the delivery and management of applications:
Oracle iAS is an important component of the Oracle Internet Platform. It provides the broadest range of middle tier services of any vendor, supporting portal and transactional application development, flexible deployment, enterprise integration, and business intelligence services all out-of-the-box.
Oracle iAS enables its customers to bring new and existing applications to run on the Internet quickly and at low cost. It offers performance benefits through its scalability, availability, and load balancing services.
Oracle iAS enables high scalability of Web applications in three central ways:
Clients running applications on Oracle iAS will ideally perceive little or no loss of service during many types of hardware and software outages. Oracle iAS provides a number of features and mechanisms designed to keep your system available despite limited server failures:
With load balancing, when you approach the limits of your current hardware, rather than either upgrading or throwing out a machine, you can just add more nodes and spread the increasing load across several machines.
Effective load balancing helps maximize scalability by enabling a system to make efficient use of its processing resources. Oracle iAS load balances efficiently both between threads and processes on a single node and between nodes in a multi-node deployment. Further, Oracle iAS can be deployed on a centralized collection of host machines, known as middle-tier server farms.
Oracle iAS consists of a set of services and utilities that can be used to implement applications in a distributed environment for scalability and reliability. These include:
Oracle iAS communication services handle requests coming in to the server. Services are provided through a combination of Oracle HTTP Server and Oracle HTTP Server Modules. The Oracle HTTP Server is powered by Apache, the de facto standard Web listener on the Internet. Apache serves over 60 percent of the world's Internet sites, offering a robust, scalable technology. Oracle HTTP Server Modules are plug-ins to the HTTP Server that extend its functionality by offering native services or by dispatching requests to external processes.
Oracle iAS presentation services handle output of graphical representation, often in the form of HTML. They support a variety of different ways to generate client presentation, from low-level programming via scripts, through high-level frameworks via Oracle Portal. These services include support for Oracle Portal, Apache JServ, OracleJSP, PL/SQL, and Perl.
To reduce the load on the back-end database instance, and to avoid network round-trips for read-only data, Oracle iAS includes Oracle8i Cache.
Oracle8i Cache is a read-only data and application cache that resides on the middle tier as a component of Oracle iAS. It improves the performance and scalability of applications that access Oracle databases by caching frequently used data and stored procedures on the middle-tier machine. Oracle8i Cache has enabled some applications to process several times as many requests as their original capacity. It's ability to improve performance is based largely on two factors:
Applications that stand to benefit the most from Oracle8i Cache include those that access data from an Oracle database over a network; those that have significant dynamic read-only content; and those that contain discrete tables with low volatility.
To provide system management and security services, Oracle iAS includes Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) and Oracle Advanced Security. These services offer a comprehensive management framework for your entire Oracle environment along with network security via Secure Sockets Layer-based encryption and authentication facilities.
OEM provides an integrated solution for centrally managing your Oracle platform. It includes a GUI console, Oracle Management Services, Oracle Intelligent Agents, and administrative tools.
Use OEM to:
Oracle iAS provides several ways to develop business logic, using both Java development and high-level, model-driven techniques. This includes support for such Java technologies as Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE); Enterprise Java Beans (EJB); Oracle Business Components for Java (BC4J); as well as rich, GUI-oriented approaches, using Oracle Forms Developer and Oracle Reports Developer.
Using iAS's Oracle Forms Server (also known as Forms Services), you can run applications built with Oracle Forms Developer over the Internet or your corporate intranet, without compromising either functionality or richness of interface.
Build new applications specifically for Web deployment, or take your existing forms, menus, and libraries currently deployed client/server and move them to Web deployment, almost without change.
There are many additional benefits to be realized from using Oracle iAS Forms Services. Here are just a few:
Forms Services reduces network bandwidth by intelligently condensing the data stream using advanced algorithms.
One way Oracle Forms Services tackles latency is through Event Bundling: When a user navigates from item A to item B (such as when tabbing from one entry field to another), a range of pre- and post-triggers may fire, each of which requires processing on the server. Event Bundling "gathers" all the events triggered while navigating between the two objects and delivers them to the server as a single packet for processing. When navigation involves traversing many objects (such as when a mouse click is on a distant object), Event Bundling gathers all events from all of the objects that were traversed and delivers them as a single network message to the server.
When you choose to deploy applications to the Internet, there are many decisions to be made as to how you will go about it. This guide provides information about those decisions and offers suggestions and methods for configuring your system for Web deployment of your applications.