Oracle wants to manage your apps

Oracle is embarking on a worldwide campaign to persuade customers to outsource maintenance of their Oracle software.

Oracle is embarking on a worldwide campaign to persuade customers to outsource maintenance of their Oracle software.

Oracle finance chief Jeff Henley told analysts in New York that the company will actively go after its installed base and tell them that it’s a better way to run Oracle applications.

Oracle New Zealand is a couple of months away from a public announcement but will be rolling the initiative out here, says local marketing manager Nigel Murphy.

Stacey Gray, systems administrator for Oracle customer Mighty River Power, says the main issue for her company would be whether an outsourcer could handle modifications to the system.

Might River Power has Oracle financials but also uses Oracle Projects differently to most other New Zealand customers, she says.

“We would have different reporting requirements and so modification would be one of the big issues.”

Interfacing to third-party systems would be another one, she says. “We only interface to one but it would be something we would have to look at.”

Might River outsources management of its payroll to Datacom, which has worked well, says Gray.

“Outsourcing can have merit, especially where you have a package that is standard across the board for everyone such as payroll. It’s where you’re doing stuff that’s unique that it becomes an issue.”

Oracle offers two ways of outsourcing: one whereby the software is hosted on Oracle systems in an Oracle data centre, and another in which Oracle manages software installed on the company’s systems at the customer’s location, according to Timothy Chou, president of e-business suite outsourcing at Oracle.

Westgate Transport Port Taranaki IT manager Mark Brennan says with a hosted solution the company would lose a lot of ownership and would be “shackled” to a common body of users with a similar set up and configuration. “Any features you think are good, you might lose when they upgrade the software. You would be forced to upgrade and the cost would be built in.”

Regarding Oracle managing the software on the customer’s premises, Brennan says there could be savings in staffing costs although his company is too small a shop for it to make any difference. It employs one Oracle application developer/database administrator. However, a large site with lots of Oracle-skilled staff could save money, he says.

At the smaller enterprise level, Auckland software development house Theta Solutions has used Oracle’s free offshore application hosting service Sales.Oracle.com.

Theta, which wanted to test the hosted software model because it was developing such an application, had a team of five people using the service. Theta used it for managing sales — contacting prospects and customer interaction. Benson describes Sales.

Oracle.com as “an easy in” to customer relationship management.

Benson says Theta was attracted by the fact that it could easily start and stop using the service and didn’t have to invest in extra hardware. Benson says the service is backed up and secured by Oracle and available 24 hours, seven days a week. Eventually Theta developed its own higher-end CRM system.

Oracle says more than 85 local companies are registered to use its free hosted sales automation applications.

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