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Rebecca Midgley

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Oracle OpenWorld Conference 2008

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OracleStuart Lauchlan reports from the Oracle OpenWorld Conference 2008.


Oracle OpenWorld 2008 will probably be best remembered as the conference at which Oracle became a hardware company with its new Database Machine, but before that market-changing announcement was made there was much traditional software business to be dealt with.

“We are in three basic categories where most people spend most of their time every day,” noted Charles Phillips, Oracle President. “There’s Database, where we started. Middleware, a set of services and products that applications need to be able to run. We’re number one in that business as well. Then there’s the packaged Business Applications business.”

That applications business, he reminded the 43,000 delegates who attended the event in San Francisco, is built around a series of horizontal markets, from enterprise resource planning (ERP) of eBusiness Suite with its financials and payroll components through CRM to human capital management and talent management. Somewhere in the mix are the product sets that used to belong to PeopleSoft and JD Edwards, now part of a wider software stack.

Customers are still coming on board with the applications strategy, commented co-president Charles Phillips. “In the application area, [we saw] some key ERP wins with Daimler, that was a win over SAP for HR and recruiting; Avon Products; Illinois State University, where we beat Sun Guard and SAP for PeopleSoft HCM. In CRM, we won at Farmer’s Insurance, that was a win over Salesforce.com and SAP.”

“We are number one in the database market, number one in middleware and number two in the applications market,” said Sergio Giacoletto, EMEA president. “CRM, HCM and business intelligence are doing extremely well, although the financial applications in German-speaking countries brings the apps total down. But our best-of-breed portfolio still helps us to increase market share with customers who are traditional SAP shops.”

There’s also been a verticalisation of the applications strategy with divisions set up to service particular industries, such as the insurance market which was added to the line-up this week. “We have focused business units that have their own profit and loss lines,” said Phillips. “They are staffed by experts who have only worked in a particular industry and they focus only on that industry. We think this is a very important area of growth. Back in 2004, we could deliver database, infrastructure and applications in the forms of ERP; now we can provide domain specific applications alongside the horizontal applications.”

“I think the utilities business did a great job, that’s utilities and tax,” said Phillips. “It’s smaller numbers but in terms of customer wins and year-over-year growth, we’re finally getting our feet on the ground and getting some traction there. This tax market could be a large one, since there’s not really a product out there that for large organisations that need to collect taxes, they usually build that for many, many years. We had some good design wins in financial services.”

But not everything has worked in the past: Oracle has embarked on its third attempt to crack the collaborative software suite market in the form of Beehive. This seeks to take communication software, from email to instant messaging to chat, and the various security rules, databases and storage that are tied to each product on separate servers, and integrate them with fewer servers on one platform. The bundle contains applications for email, voicemail, instant messaging, shared calendars, web conferencing and shared documents. A key component is ‘My Workspace’ which can be added to Outlook accounts. This lets people store documents, emails, recordings of web conferences and transcripts of instant message chats in a single place. The suite also has audit trail functions, which keep track of details such as when a certain employee has opened a document. Oracle sees this as having application in many business functions, including HR.

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Rebecca Midgley

Assistant Content Manager

Read more from Rebecca Midgley
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