The first release of Oracle's Payment Server is a definite step in the right direction for those who seek an end-to-end solution for Web or client/server applications that support commerce activity. The product acts as the glue between these applications and one or more payment systems.
Under the covers, Payment Server 1.0 is actually a Java cartridge that plugs into Oracle's Application Server 3.0. Payment Server includes a copy of Oracle Application Server 3.0 for the purchase price. Oracle also includes other application cartridges with Payment Server, such as the ICVerify and CyberCash payment system cartridges.
A client/server or Web developer can use Payment Server's API to connect to payment systems. Alternatively, developers can use Oracle's URL and intercartridge exchange support to interact with Payment Server. In turn, Payment Server interacts with the payment systems to process the payments for commercial transactions. The benefit of this to the developer is that a single mechanism simplifies interactions with multiple business partners and payment systems.
I liked Payment Server's rules-based support for handling transactions. I could route various transactions based on location, the dollar value of the transaction, or a customer's spending limits. Also notable is the fact that Payment Server is capable of handling concurrent payment processing through its different payment systems. And applications can process payments either in batch or real time.
The installation process for Payment Server, though lengthy, was not troublesome. Setup and administration were straightforward and could be accomplished via a browser-based interface.
Those concerned with security will find that Payment Server supports Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) 3.0.
Additionally, Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) support is included for those who wish to process secure credit card transactions. Oracle plans to support other emerging electronic payment standards as they become available.
On a disappointing note, I found this first version is only available for the Sun Solaris platform. However, Oracle does have plans to support the product on Microsoft Windows NT later this year, as well as other platforms in the near future. Also on the Payment Server drawing board are plans to support debit accounts and fund transfers.
Experienced developers will find Payment Server easy going, because Oracle has included several sample applications that show you how to link to payment systems. However, the product does need more detailed documentation and perhaps some tutorial aids to assist those new to commerce applications and payment systems.
This first version of Payment Server shows good value in that it provides a single mechanism to manage multiple payment systems. In addition, its support for rules-based transaction routing will lessen the amount of code application developers will need to write to manage transactions. Software developers who need to implement commerce applications should definitely take Payment Server out for a spin. This first version is solid and the addition of features expected in upcoming releases should only add to its value.
The Bottom Line
Payment Server 1.0
This Java cartridge plugs into Oracle's Application Server and links either Web or client/server applications with single or multiple payment systems.
Pros: Payment routing based on business rules; real-time or batch processing; graphical administration; integration with new or existing client/server or Web applications via API; support for transaction security standards; capability of operating in single or multiple locations and with multiple payment systemsCons: Limited platform support, lack of aids for less experienced developers; limited documentationPlatforms: Sun SolarisPrice: $15,795 per CPU (plus payment system fees that vary by provider)Oracle AustraliaTel (02) 9900 1000