Software heavyweight Oracle has for years been challenging rival SAP’s dominance of the enterprise application market – with little success. Nevertheless, Oracle’s position seems to be improving.
By meeting its deadline to release major upgrades to its various enterprise application suites – its own eBusiness suite, and those it has acquired from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel – it has made good on commitments made to its customer base. Getting such major upgrades out of the door on time is no mean feat, and gives Oracle’s management a fillip at a time when SAP’s recent financial performance has been sub-par.
“Most companies in our industry would be happy to get one release out on time. We did five,” boasts Oracle president, Chuck Phillips.
Oracle’s battle plan to unseat SAP is constant: it plans to create a unified suite of business applications –dubbed Fusion – from the smorgasbord of its current portfolio. In the meantime, Oracle hopes to persuade customers to choose various components of its portfolio by introducing common licensing terms.
A customer wanting a financials package from Oracle’s eBusiness suite to combine with a PeopleSoft human capital management application and an order management function from Siebel, will now be able to do so using a common licensing framework, says Jesper Andersen, senior VP of application strategy at Oracle.
This has been welcomed by customers. “Anything that helps simplify licensing is welcome,” says Chris Jones, business projects manager at NAPP Pharmaceuticals, an Oracle user.
Oracle has spent heavily in acquiring many of its users, and keepings its install base happy is a prerequisite if it is to challenge SAP.
But given its diverse customer base, keeping licence agreements simple is difficult. As Andersen admits, while his notional customer may be able to pick and choose components of its application portfolio, each one would have to be bought under separate purchase orders. That is an unnecessary complication, which may make it harder for customers to compare costs.
Offering common licensing terms for its various products is a good first step for Oracle, as it moves towards Fusion, but there is more work to be done.