March 24, 1997 10:00 AM ET
C/S suites tap into Java
PeopleSoft, Oracle rollouts streamline distribution of apps
By Jim Kerstetter

  PeopleSoft Inc. and Oracle Corp. are readying Java clients that will change the way client/server enterprise applications are rolled out to corporate users.

PeopleSoft's Java client, which will ship by year's end, will extend its applications to a three-tiered architecture. In addition to the Java client, PeopleSoft will release a new Windows thin client written in C++.

Meanwhile, Oracle is planning to release a Java client at the end of the second quarter that ties into the company's Network Computing Architecture.

Together, the Java application releases represent a sea change in the way corporations will be able to roll out their enterprise applications. In addition, such Java clients will enable corporations to deploy inexpensive network computers to end users, without losing such traditional client/server functionality as security and workflow.

"We have a remote sales force, and remote access in the PC LAN environment is not exactly a wonderful experience right now," said Jim Prevo, CIO at Green Mountain Roasters Inc., in Waterbury, Vt. "I am very interested in how to make a browser a universal client for a sales force."

PeopleSoft and Oracle are following very similar development tracks, taking all SQL language off the client and relying on a Java-enabled application server and a Java-enabled tool kit.

PeopleSoft's plans start with the PeopleTools development kit. With Java-enabled PeopleTools, due with the PeopleSoft 7 release at the end of the year, corporate developers will be able to create a Java-enabled GUI that can run on any Java-supporting browser on any operating system.

The new PeopleSoft architecture will have a database server level and an application server, BEA Systems Inc.'s Tuxedo. On the other end of a PeopleSoft intranet transaction will be a standard Web server, where HTML pages, called Dashboards, are stored.

Dashboards can be customized by developers and can support buttons for applications outside the PeopleSoft set, provided that they are Java-enabled, said Rick Bergquist, senior vice president for technology at PeopleSoft, in Pleasanton, Calif.

A user looking at the Dashboard, which will differ from a regular PeopleSoft GUI, will click on the PeopleSoft Java applet button for a PeopleSoft application. That will launch a Java Online Transaction to the Tuxedo application server.

PeopleSoft next week will start beta testing a series of Universal intranet applications. The applications will be released with PeopleSoft 7 and will initially include Requisitioning, Travel & Expense, Benefits Management, Electronic Paystub, Job Posting/Recruiting and Status/Tracking.

As for Oracle, the Oracle Web Application server will act as a middle layer, generating HTML forms on the fly, gathering PL/SQL data from the Oracle database, and feeding client data to a browser residing on a thin client, Windows desktop or other operating system.

All of Oracle's 30-plus application modules should run on the Java client, which will be built with a Java cartridge in the Developer 2000 tool kit, said company officials in Redwood Shores, Calif.

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