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John Soat
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IT Confidential: Software In 2005: Oracle, Sarbox, Bling

ORACLE THE ACQUIRER: At the Software 2005 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., last week, Charles Phillips, president of Oracle, laid it on the line: "There's more to go, people." He was referring to Oracle's consolidation plans, and he was serving notice to the industry that the acquisitive vendor isn't finished gobbling up smaller fish in the software pond. Phillips' speech was intended to make Oracle's case as the pre-eminent enterprise software vendor, a notion that has a lot of CIOs already "buying in," Phillips said. That's because Oracle has critical mass in applications, middle-tier software, and databases, Phillips said. Oracle is looking for more technology and expertise in vertical markets, which explains its knockdown, drag-out fight with SAP over Retek, an expert in retail-industry technology. Phillips did admit that Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft was a bit on the heavy-handed side. "An 18-month hostile takeover isn't the best way" to foster good feelings in the software industry, Phillips admitted, but it did give Oracle's consolidation strategy one very necessary element, from Phillips' point of view: "visibility."

NOW TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: A panel discussion at Software 2005 was made up of four CEOs: Jim Cashman of Ansys, Mike Greenough of SSA Global, Amnon Landan of Mercury Interactive, and Bernard Liautaud of Business Objects. Most of the discussion involved financial best practices ("more cash in than out" was an oft-repeated phrase), but when the subject of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act came up, tempers flared. "The biggest waste of time and effort ever invented in the history of mankind," SSA Global's Greenough said. "Really stupid," said Landan of Mercury Interactive. "Good intent, bad execution," said Business Objects' Liautaud, speculating that Sarbanes-Oxley may have cost the country two percentage points of profitability last year. "Don't take this the wrong way," said Cashman of Ansys, before noting that his company is not in the business of complying with government regulations, it's in the business of providing technology solutions to customers.

BUZZ KILL: Democratic state Rep. Michael Festa of Melrose, Mass., introduced a bill last week aimed at shielding children from so-called "buzz" marketing. The bill calls for children under 16 to obtain their parents' permission before participating in online "word-of-mouth" sales campaigns. With word-of-mouth, or buzz campaigns, participants receive free merchandise by agreeing to ask their friends to use the products. Companies such as BzzAgent sign up participants online.

GRATUITOUS PARIS HILTON REFERENCE: Concord Camera, a Hollywood, Fla., marketer of digital-photography products, said Paris Hilton was voted the "Ultimate Hollywood Diva" by contestants who entered the company's "Wanna be a Hollywood Diva" contest for a trip to Hollywood (Calif.) and a digital video camera. Both the winning contestant--unnamed--and Ms. Hilton will receive a "bejeweled" Swarovski DVx digital video camera. According to a statement by Concord, "Crystallized electronics are the hottest 'bling-bling' craze among young Hollywood movie stars today."

I don't own any bling. I'm not sure what bling is. I'm assuming a wedding ring doesn't count. How about an industry tip? Send your bling-bling to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about Oracle's acquisition strategy or compliance with federal regulations, meet me at the Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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