Oracle's on the Prowl

After making a slew of recent acquistions, Oracle has the scent of new blood

July 29, 2005

3 Min Read
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On the heels of an acquisition splurge, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) is planning even more M&A activity over the coming months.

Speaking on a conference call organized by SG Cowen Securities, Oracle CFO Greg Maffei acknowledged the company is still on the prowl for new blood. He said that, in addition to growing organically, Oracle is committed to fleshing out its product portfolio around certain industry verticals.

Maffei would not reveal any specifics, but he hinted that Oracle is on the lookout for some bite-sized morsels after stumping up $11 billion and fighting an 18-month war of attrition to claim PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT) (see Oracle Takes Control of PeopleSoft).

"We're going to be rigorous, as we were with PeopleSoft, in making sure that it is a digestible acquisition," he said. Potential targets would also be "accretive" to Oracle's financial performance, he added.

Earlier this year, Oracle outbid archrival SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) to get its hands on retail specialist Retek Inc., and Maffei's comments suggest that the company is planning more of the same (Oracle Acquires Retek and Oracle Gets German OK for Retek).The Retek acquisition was followed by deals for identity management specialist Oblix Inc. and data management software vendor TimesTen Inc. (see Oracle Opens Its Wallet for Oblix and Oracle Acquires TimesTen).

Last week Oracle completed its acquisition of ProfitLogic Inc., another firm in the retail space (see Oracle Completes ProfitLogic Acquisition).

There has already been plenty of speculation about what's next on Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's shopping list. Industry analysts cite software vendors in lucrative telecom and financial services verticals as possible targets (see What's Next on Oracle's Hit List?).

However, the company also has its eye on security and data management, as the Oblix and TimesTen buys attest.

Oracle execs also used the call to outline their product roadmap. Charles Phillips, Oracle's co-president (alongside Maffei and Safra Catz), explained that the company has overhauled its business intelligence products and the Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) engine used to extract data from its databases. This will address "some gaps that we had in the [OLAP software] product," he said.The president admitted that the original OLAP engine was none too easy to deploy across multiple sites. "What we have done is fixed that in the next release," he added.

Phillips confirmed that Oracle has also "completely revamped" its business-intelligence software. This now offers "a lot more wizards" and better reporting features, which make the software easier to use, he said. The new business-intelligence tools and OLAP engine will be available during the summer, he added.

Behind the scenes, Oracle has also done some reshuffling to support service-oriented architectures (SOAs), which let users run services in the form of application software across different computing environments (see Software Vendors Adopt Oracle Middleware and SOAs: Approach With Caution).

With applications playing a key role in SOAs, Oracle has revamped its sales organization to reflect this need, according to Phillips. Previously, a single sales force was responsible for selling both Oracle applications and its popular database products. However, Phillips said that because databases were easiest to sell, salespeople were inclined to push that technology. "We accepted that we needed a SWAT team," he added, which prompted Oracle to split up its sales force.

Of course, there is method to all this madness. German software giant SAP has been looking to exploit the recent M&A upheaval by enticing Oracle and PeopleSoft customers over to its own platform (see SAP Sidles Up to PeopleSoft Users and SAP Extends Safe Passage).But Maffei said Oracle has recently managed to win some deals in SAP's backyard. "We have seen some conversions and wins in Germany," he said, thanks partly to the reform of the company's sales organization.

James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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