Oracle pushes on integration and customer support

Having slipped to third place in the applications market, Oracle is taking pains to boost market share.

Having slipped to third place in the applications market, Oracle is taking pains to boost market share.

Oracle officials touted the company's various initiatives, which include boosting integration, delivering more vertically focused applications and creating customer advocacy programs, at its AppsWorld 2004 user conference in San Diego.

Despite a soft market for applications, over the past four years Oracle has doubled the number of developers, who are working on more than 100 different modules. "We're executing better and better in the applications space," said new board chairman Jeff Henley.

Oracle was behind only ERP giant SAP in terms of business software until the merger of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards last summer. It is now attempting to purchase PeopleSoft in a hostile takeover bid and is awaiting a ruling from the US Department of Justice over potential antitrust issues.

Nevertheless, Oracle chief executive officer Larry Ellison said yesterday that although PeopleSoft claims to be in the upper tier, its market share is shrinking at a very rapid rate.

"Our companies' new licence revenue comes close to being equal in size. I don't think they are bigger than we are. If they are, it's really close."

Ellison added that Oracle's efforts to offer greater integration with third-party applications comes in response to large companies' desires for heterogeneous software. Offering connectors is the next logical step for Oracle, now that it has stabilised its E-Business Suite.

"We're not giving up on what we were saying before," he said. "We're in good shape there. Not everyone in the world wanted to go that way. We've got our fair share of wins. Now we live in a heterogeneous world."

At the show, Oracle also offered a preview of the upcoming release of 11.i.10 of its E-Business Suite, which is slated to come out midyear. The software suite includes boosted web services and other connectors which, the company claimed, will ease the integration of business processes.

As part of its plan, Oracle will offer native support for 150 interfaces created by the Open Applications Group, and it will also extend support for specific industry protocols such as RosettaNet for hi-tech.

Oracle's suite will also offer support for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for warehouse management. There are also specific enhancements targeting the construction, consumer packaged goods and healthcare industries.

The new features in 11i.10 will help meet government privacy and other regulations.

Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld

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