Oracle: the Company with the Midas Touch?
by Fran Howarth, Principal
Where isn?t Oracle going? Those who have long complained about Oracle?s lock-in strategy had better wise up. It has always been known as a database company, and selling databases still provides 80% of its revenues. But, at present, Oracle appears to be embarking on a game of world domination that is enough to leave anyone open mouthed.
The PeopleSoft-JDEdwards deal was a coup for the company. Many thought it might make IBM and SAP play nice with each other. But IBM and Oracle are now cosying up. We?ll get to that in a minute. Now it has bought Siebel at a bargain basement price. Many thought that would lead to a loss of the hosted CRM solution, previously hosted by IBM, which would help it get to the under-tapped SMB market. Now it has announced a deal with EDS for hosted services. But, again, we?ll get to the in a minute.
Also in the applications space, Oracle outbid SAP for Retek and wasted no time in bringing out an integrated retail solution. In the financial services industry, it has taken over i-flex solutions, offering technology solutions and consulting to the all-important financial sector. And now it has boosted its positions in the logistics applications market with the acquisition of G-Log. G-Log offers ?integrated logistics management?, or, transportation management software. It makes great sense to add it to its applications portfolio.
And then there is Oblix. Not business applications, but security applications. With this acquisition, Oracle became a player in the identity and access management market ? one of the fastest growing areas of technology that promises companies increased operational efficiencies, reduced costs and even help with achieving regulatory compliance goals by being able to securely manage who has access to what resources and what they do with those resources.
Many never thought they would see the day, but IBM and Oracle have partnered. For a start, they have unveiled an integrated JDEdwards server for hosting services for the mid-market. Then, WebSphere has been certified so that Oracle?s Fusion applications will run on WebSphere, with the promise that standards will be developed so that companies don?t need reams of consultants in their offices trying to make the technologies work together.
Then there is the deal mentioned above with EDS. Again, this takes it further towards its ambition of penetrating the SME market. It has extended its partnership with Dell so that Dell?s hardware is bundled with its business applications ? in addition to the database and middleware that were already included. And a partnership with HP has just been announced that will provide customers with superior service and support offerings in deployment of Oracle technology, as well as helping them with their provisioning requirements ? another important part of identity management.
And Oracle is not just making acquisitions and forming partnerships, but is making many innovative developments itself. Of these, one of the most important is its Project Fusion platform. Based on a service-oriented architecture, this middleware platform contains the tools to ease integration of applications with underlying systems and technology, as well as enabling business intelligence functions, and collaboration and content management technologies.
All Things to All Men?
It would appear that Oracle has the means and clout to put its money where its mouth is. But can Oracle be all things to all companies? Is Ellison the man with the Midas touch? There are many other companies playing into many of the spaces that it plays into. It claims to be persuading SAP R/3 customers to switch to Oracle through its Oracle Fusion for SAP, or OFF SAP programme. But SAP doesn?t yet appear to be bowed. And there are many other companies in the identity management, middleware, enterprise applications and database markets that are fast developing along the SOA lines that will architect the software of the future.
Its momentum is massive and its ambitions lofty. And it certainly has its work cut out integrating the technology it has newly acquired and marketing its partnerships. It will probably do this well, over time, and will probably also make further acquisitions. But the key test will be whether or not companies are happy with their businesses becoming dependent on technology from just one vendor. The players in this game of world domination have taken their seats at the table. But who has the trump card?