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OpenWorld: Oracle tackles wireless apps

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SAN FRANCISCO - With an eye on the exploding wireless market, Oracle this week announced a set of products and programs that let enterprise users access database applications via wireless connections.

The linchpin of the effort is Oracle9i Application Server Wireless Edition, which will ship in December. Formerly called Portal to Go, this server software intercepts a wireless client request, uses XML to retrieve the desired information, and then converts it into a format that the wireless device can use, whether on a microbrowser, a small pager screen, or a larger PDA display.

Wireless Edition supports an array of standard or widely used display and network protocols, such as Wireless Markup Language over the Wireless Access Protocol, XML, HTML, CDMA, TDMA, GSM and other wireless transports.

The 9i release includes new, ready-to-use adapters that plug into email systems and corporate directories. Oracle also has added the ability to identify a wireless user's location, from data in the wireless net, and then correlate it with relevant information from the database. Mapping, directions, distances are some of the data that can be used in these so-called location-based services.

Oracle is writing a set of Wireless Edition adapters for use with IBM mainframes. These adapters will let the mainframes connect to Wireless Edition, and will handle formatting wireless requests to be understood by mainframe relational databases. It then formats the results so they can be viewed by the variety of clients supported by Wireless Edition.

Business unit OracleMobile this week unveiled a beta version of OracleMobile Online Studio, a group of software tools for building, testing and deploying wireless applications in a hosted environment, such as that offered by OracleMobile. The Studio tool set is based on XML and lets developers create hosted, wireless versions of existing applications. The tools are on studio.oraclemobile.com/. General release of the tool set is planned for this month.

Oracle is expanding its efforts working with software vendors, helping them adapt their applications for use with Wireless Edition. The company is also working with Motorola to create a set of guidelines for developers to help in designing wireless applications. Oracle itself has already begun a process of redesigning for wireless deployment the customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning applications in its E-business Suite.

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