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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[March 31, 2005]

Oracles Appetite Not Sated Yet

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

Fresh off besting SAPs offer to purchase Retek, which came hard on the heels of a bruising multibillion-dollar fight for PeopleSoft, Oracle is still hungry.

Larry Ellisons hard-charging business software firm has announced the purchase of Cupertino-based Oblix, a developer of identity management software that manages the way users log on to multiple corporate applications, according to CIO Today.

The deal will give Oracle more clout in offering identity and SOA management options, according to an Oblix release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Oblix isn't as high-profile as the other two, but they have valuable functionality in security and identity management. Oblix's technology allows companies to create and manage user information across applications, portals, and other IT gateways. This is a prelude to enforcing strict access control, be it employee-to-application or application-to-application.

Specifically, the company's software will complement the Oracle Identity Management feature found in the Oracle Application Server 10g.

In an open letter to customers, according to CIO Today, Oblix vice president of North American field operations Rick Simmons wrote that there will be a focus on continuity during the transition.

He emphasized that all contacts for support, professional services and sales will remain the same. And although some Oblix capability will be folded into Oracle products, several major Oblix products will continue to be available on a stand-alone basis.

The relevance of such functionality is immediately apparent in a world that is migrating towards services-based e-business, in which applications are proliferating and flitting across firewalls and organizational boundaries. There's also an obvious use case when it comes to application delivery across different platforms and devices.

Analysts think Oracle has the cash to keep up the torrid acquisition pace. IDC analyst Evan Quinn said "Even with the PeopleSoft acquisition, Oracle can afford to keep acquiring, especially smaller companies that give it a foothold in certain areas.

Earnings for the company's fiscal 2005 third quarter showed an 18 percent increase, to $2.95 billion.

Of course, Oracle already has a play in identity management, but the company hasn't yet indicated how the Oblix integration will impact that product. That's something to watch for in the days to come.

Although it is adding to its portfolio, Oracle faces several challenges in the coming year, according to a recent Gartner report.

The prolonged PeopleSoft acquisition caused reluctance to upgrade on the part of customers, the report noted. Also, Oracle faces rising competition from SAP, and application support providers.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

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