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Ellison promises verticals, open standards

Barney Beal

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fresh off a buying spree that included the likes of PeopleSoft Inc., Retek Inc. and likely Siebel Systems Inc., one might think Oracle Corp. would have its hands full. But CEO Larry Ellison laid out a lengthy and ambitious list of priorities for the next 24 months during his appearance at OpenWorld this week.

Among the priorities for Oracle in the coming year: business intelligence (BI), security, open standards, automation and deep-industry functionality, Ellison told a gathering of the 35,000 attendees at this year's Oracle OpenWorld. Oracle is up to the challenge because it has not just the money, but the staffing, he said. For example, Oracle will have not just its own engineering department to rely on as it integrates Siebel, but Siebel's as well.

"Scale is important in the software business," Ellison told attendees. "Our R and D budget is over $2 billion. We'll have three times as much experience building Fusion CRM with Siebel. As we scale up and add engineering, I think it will make things easier for you."

Ellison sounded a customer-centric tone in his address to attendees that included not just Oracle's traditional customers, but former PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards & Co. customers as well. Ellison highlighted Oracle's new lifetime support offerings and pledged to support customers running on IBM WebSphere middleware and an open database strategy. All future applications will be built on a service-oriented

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architecture (SOA) and will be certified to run on WebSphere.

For more information
Read about Oracle's lifetime support plans

See how Oracle has expanded its Project Fusion

"We intend to protect that investment you made in what you already bought, what you already built," Ellison said.

Additionally, Oracle has support for IBM's DB2 database with its recent Retek and PeopleSoft acquisitions.

"There's a pending decision within Oracle if we'll certify non-Oracle databases for Fusion," Ellison said, discussing the project to bring together the best functionality of Oracle's recent applications vendor acquisitions. "Ask me now and I'd say it's a coin flip. There are two major issues -- portability versus extra security."

Security has been a focus for Oracle for the past 25 years and will continue to be a focus going forward, Ellison pledged, knocking Microsoft chairman Bill Gates for saying that Microsoft would devote the month of February to security.

"It's a short month, I'm not sure if it's a leap year," Ellison said.

Oracle will continue its identity management development while also working on intrusion detection to secure applications in the Internet age. Additionally, Oracle is able to provide deep-industry functionality into more than just applications, he said. Oracle has already created database algorithms designed specifically for the biotech industry.

"That's Oracle's advantage over the competition," Ellison said. "When we build industry functionality, it's not just for applications. We adapt applications, middleware and the database."

Ellison didn't spare German rival SAP AG in his barbs. When asked about SAP's NetWeaver middleware, Ellison said it was still two cycles behind the latest standards, and that more SAP customers are running Oracle middleware than NetWeaver. Five years down the line, it won't just be Oracle and SAP, Ellison predicted.

"We see Microsoft as a very important competitor in the applications space," Ellison said. "The pure play on-demand vendors like Salesforce.com and NetSuite will play a role and so will outsourcers like Infosys and ADP. I think the applications space isn't going to be just Oracle and SAP."


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