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4/20/2007
02:25 PM
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With Disparate Applications Galore, Oracle Touts Integration

New Application Integration Architecture makes it easier to connect acquired product lines.



One result of Oracle's acquisition spree is an assemblage of applications--JD Edwards, Oracle E-Business, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and more--that don't automatically work together, requiring roll-up-the-sleeves integration work for many customers. Newly unveiled integration middleware from Oracle promises to ease some of that drudgery.

Oracle describes its new Application Integration Architecture software as a way of giving customers a choice between waiting for the company's integrated Fusion applications to arrive next year and buying integration packs for must-have apps now. The first packs, which range in price from $30,000 to $90,000 per CPU, are due next month.

There's pent-up demand for Fusion, a next-generation application suite that draws from the best of Oracle's existing and acquired products, says Jose Lazares, Oracle's VP of application development. And the 2-year-old Fusion development project is on track, he says.

Easy Integration?
Oracle's packs will facilitate eight business processes, including:

Bank Account Opening
For connecting Siebel CRM to I-flex Flexcube Account Origination
Complaint And Adverse Event
For communications between Siebel Call Center and Oracle Adverse Event Reporting System
Promotional Campaigns
Links Siebel CRM Trade Promotions and Deductions to Oracle E-Business
Freight Rate Shopping And Routing
Connects Oracle Transportation Management to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
Using Application Integration Architecture, customers can start creating composite applications from Oracle's existing lines of software. Any development work they do now will be compatible with Fusion, Lazares says.

Oracle has acquired 28 companies since January 2005, including Retek (retail applications), I-flex Solutions (banking applications), and Demantra (demand-planning applications). Its two most recent deals expand the portfolio to include Tangosol's distributed grid for in-memory data management and Hyperion's business intelligence and financial apps.

Linking those disparate systems can be a resource-consuming challenge, Oracle says. Application Integration Architecture speeds the process by using common data objects--representing a purchase order, for example--to facilitate integration. The same purchase order definition will be used in the AIA integration packs and Fusion. Thus, customers can build the objects into new business processes via their existing incompatible applications and still expect everything to work with Fusion.

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Oracle has built 100 such object definitions, AMR Research analyst Bill Swanton says. A Siebel CRM On Demand Integration Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite, priced at $30,000, converts quotes captured by the Siebel software into orders that can be processed by E-Business Suite. An integration pack for order management, priced at $90,000, supports a more complex, order-to-cash business process between Siebel and Oracle apps.



MULTIPLE CORES -- AND FEES
Application Integration Architecture also may represent Oracle's recognition that some customers don't plan to migrate to Fusion or are in no hurry to do so, Gartner analyst Yvonne Genovese says. "We don't know a lot about the Fusion generation, so I would hesitate to say this is a step toward it," she adds.

By giving customers a way to integrate dissimilar applications more easily, Oracle stands a better chance of keeping them in place rather than migrating elsewhere. An underlying business goal is to keep customers on board so that annual maintenance fees in the 20% range continue flowing to Oracle, Genovese says.

Customers should get out their calculators. To implement one of Oracle's integration packs will cost $120,000 to $360,000 on a single-core, four-way server. On newer dual-core, four-way servers, the price tag adds up to $720,000. (An Oracle spokesman says the company counts one-half of a dual-core server as running the operating system, not the application, so it would charge $360,000 even on a dual-core, four-way server.)

Some customers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, may balk at those prices, Gartner's Genovese says.

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