By Siobhan Kennedy Oracle Corp will next week extend its Business OnLine application hosting program by offering third party applications for the first time. Speaking during a question and answer session at the end of his keynote at the company’s applications user group conference in Orlando, chairman and CEO Larry Ellison told ComputerWire that Oracle […]
By Siobhan Kennedy
Oracle Corp will next week extend its Business OnLine application hosting program by offering third party applications for the first time. Speaking during a question and answer session at the end of his keynote at the company’s applications user group conference in Orlando, chairman and CEO Larry Ellison told ComputerWire that Oracle will announce at least two deals, with start-ups NetLedger and Salesforce.com, to host those companies’ applications as part of its BOL network.
The announcements will be made during Oracle’s Business OnLine day, Ellison said, which the company is hosting next week at the World Trade Center in New York. BOL was first announced last November and the service went live in May. Now Oracle has just 30 customers up and running but Ellison said there were lots of other interested parties in the pipeline.
The original remit of the service was to enable Oracle customers to rent its applications, both ERP and CRM, over the internet from Oracle run and managed servers. But according to Ellison, the company now wants to expand that offering. We’re encouraging as many applications to run on BOL as possible, he said, it’s not just designed to run our own ERP and CRM applications…any software company that wants to can use it [BOL].
The relationships with NetLedger and Salesforce.com are logical first starts for Ellison given that he sits on the board of both companies already. NetLedger makes accountancy software for small and medium businesses while salesforce.com offers, at least in its first incarnation, online information for salespeople on the road, similar to Siebel’s Sales.com. While Ellison didn’t go into the exact terms of the agreements, it seems likely that Oracle will host those applications on behalf of the companies, rather than resell the software itself, deriving revenues from a cut of each customer signed up.
Ellison, who didn’t actually attend the conference and instead appeared – somewhat disheveled – on giant screens live from Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, California, said the move was part of Oracle’s push to get more small and medium-sized businesses signed up to the service. Small businesses are less enthusiastic about running their own database and applications, he said, deals like this will allow you to do your books over the net.
Having built out its services, and added as many non-Oracle applications as possible, the ultimate aim is to get Oracle’s larger customers to sign up too, Ellison said. Although the CEO only mentioned the two alliances, a spokesperson for Oracle said that others were likely to be detailed during next week’s BOL day. He said Oracle would form two types of partnerships. Those where Oracle offers to host the applications on behalf of the third party. In those cases, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those companies will target the same types of users as Oracle would, the spokesperson said.
But alongside that, Oracle also expects to sign partnerships with niche ISVs whose software does complement its own offerings. For example, a company making software for dental surgeries might not want to develop a full financial suite of its own but would want to add those financial features that are relevant to dentists to a broader package. In those cases, Oracle will work with the ISV to develop interfaces to its applications and then sell the resulting bundle into those niche markets, the spokepserson said.
Ellison went on to differentiate Oracle’s application hosting initiative from any of its rival vendors, like SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc, by explaining that Oracle was the only software vendor that was itself an application service provider, or ASP. SAP and others have outsourced their applications to other service providers, he said.
At another point during the Q&A session, Ellison was asked about what he thought the next generation computing architecture might look like in five or ten years time. Ten years is a long time in our business, he said, But let me say something provocative. Adopting his usual opinionated standpoint, Ellison said he believed the internet was the last big architectural change. Yes there will be technology improvements, with faster microprocessors and other advances…but I don’t believe there is anything after the internet…the internet’s the last big architectural paradigm. He said his reason for believing that was because the internet was beginning to look like any other mature network. All you need is a cheap machine with a browser, he said.