Users keep wary eye out as Oracle switches to acquisitions strategy

Oracle used to focus on internal development, now it prefers to buy

As Oracle continues moving away from its traditional strategy of growing its applications business through internal development and shifts to expanding through large acquisitions its customer base is watching warily.

At Oracle’s recent OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, users said that the company had so far said the right things to reassure them of its intentions. But, at the same time, several users said they were closely following the evolution of Oracle’s Project Fusion product roadmap and the new changes in its support programmes.

It would be foolish not to be concerned about the future, said Jay Schaudies, global vice president of e-commerce at Manpower, the staffing services provider. Schaudies, a PeopleSoft user, said at OpenWorld that his company’s relationship with Oracle has been good in the ten months since it acquired PeopleSoft.

But Manpower is nevertheless waiting to see if Oracle delivers on its roadmap and whether the planned US$5.85 billion (NZ$8.3 billion) buy of Siebel will affect that strategy.

“We are going into this with eyes wide open,” says Schaudies.

He also said that he wants to make sure the Fusion project, Oracle’s plan to build modular Java-based software that combines the best of its own systems with that of its acquired technologies, is fully standards-based.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said at the conference that Oracle will focus on building standards-based middleware and applications over the next two years.

At the conference, Oracle also unveiled what it called its hot-pluggable infrastructure software, which will allow Oracle’s product to be snapped into those of both its own partners and rivals such as IBM. Ellison said Oracle will use services-oriented architecture technology in its development of future products, which will allow companies to maintain existing ERP investments.

Ellison added that the company’s acquisition strategy looks to gain know-how as much as software. “It’s not about trying to preserve code bases,” he said. “It’s about trying to preserve experience.”

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