Oracle ships grid software

Oracle claims its Application Server 10g is the first to be able to take advantage of clusters of commodity hardware, an architecture that could make datacentres far cheaper to run

Oracle on Wednesday made available its Application Server 10g, the first to take advantage of Oracle's vision of grid computing, as well as introducing a number of other features. The application server ties in with the grid capabilities of the Oracle 10g database, expected by the end of this month.

The database grid capabilities in Oracle 10g allow a company to create a single pool of processing power by linking together several servers. Rather than have a one server dedicated to a single application, the database grid lets several applications draw on the combined processing capacity of the networked servers. Computing grids can save companies money on server hardware because the grid formation can dedicate processing capacity based on changes on demand, according to Oracle.

Grid computing, also called on-demand or utility computing, is being promoted by companies such as IBM, Sun, HP and Microsoft.

The software is designed to serve applications to remote users from a cluster of low-cost Intel-based servers, a model that treats computing power as a commodity, and which Oracle argues will be the wave of the future. 10g will also run on large, powerful Unix or Intel servers, as in the past.

In the application server market, Oracle has been competing with leaders IBM and BEA Systems by lowering prices, introducing new features and promoting its grid strategy. The new software introduces nearly 600 features, aside from load sharing, Oracle said. Users should now be able to run existing applications on enterprise grids without making any modifications.

The application server costs $5,000 (£2,865) per processor for the Java Edition, $10,000 per processor for the Standard Edition, and $20,000 per processor for the Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition includes enterprise portal software, high-speed caching, business intelligence, identity management, rapid application development, wireless capabilities and Web services.

The software supports a wider range of standards, including the Web Services Interoperability Organization's Basic Profile 1.1, allowing the application server to work with others following the same standard.

Also on Wednesday, Oracle released a preview version of JDeveloper 10g, with the new Oracle Application Development Framework, designed to simplify application development for enterprise grids.

Oracle first released details of its grid strategy in September.

CNET's Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.