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Oracle's plans for 2007

With lots of people publishing about Oracle's accomplishments in 2006, very few analysts have discussed Oracle's upcoming plans and challenges for 2007. 

Motley Fool recommends a "buy", and with Oracle stock over $17 and the fusion of acquired software going well (Peoplesoft, Siebel, ReTek, etc.), we see increased confidence in their corporate direction.  But what direction will that be?  Oracle Corporation operates in a very mature and competitive market and Oracle faces many competitive challenges in 2007:

  • Applications challenges - Oracle's eBusiness suite is threatened by competitors IBM and Microsoft.
  • Open source database threats - PostgreSQL, MySQL and EnterpriseDB remain threats to Oracle database sales.
  • Middleware competition - Oracle nemesis Red Hat has just purchased the popular JBOSS middleware.

Oracle's plan for 2007

In order to address these challenges, Oracle is seizing on these market trends, firming-up their newly-acquired applications (PeopleSoft, Siebel) with "fusion middleware" and focusing on expanding within some very specific markets.  The major focus of application interoperability with MySQL, SQL Server, EnterpriseDB, PostgreSQL and DB2, will allow Oracle to quickly tie-in to their competitors systems, a foot-in-the-door approach that gives Oracle leverage in migration proposals.  We also see:

  • 11g Database enhancements - The Oracle database does not have any "huge" new features, and the Oracle 11g database is currently in 11g beta testing, scheduled for final release late in 2007/early 2008.  Preliminary new features announcements at Oracle OpenWorld 2006 did not reveal any "major" architectural features except "fusion middleware", and some speculated that the next release might be dubbed Oracle 11f.  For a detailed list of Oracle11g new features, see my notes on the specific Oracle 11g new Features.
  • Single-source shopping - Just as IBM earned billions of dollars by offering soup-to-nuts service (with no cross-finger pointing when things go wrong), Oracle is now offering complete software solutions by incorporating their own Linux distro.
  • Windows push - Oracle has announced world-record benchmarks on Windows, using the massive Intel-based UNISYS ES-7000 servers, getting over a quarter million transactions per minute.
  • Leveraging industry verticals - Oracle sees opportunities to integrate within industry verticals, as noted by their acquisition of ReTek and MetaSolv.
  • Easy Migration to Oracle - The ultimate way to drive-out competitors, Oracle appears to be planning to make it easy to switch to Oracle from competing platforms by offering lower prices combined with easy inter- operability with several critical areas:
  • SQL Developer - SQL Developer is to offer ODBC connectivity to DB2, MS-SQL, MySQL and EnterpriseDB.
  • Oracle Migration Toolkit - This tool allows fast migration of SQL Server databases and even re-writes T-SQL into PL/SQL.
  • Enterprise Manager (OEM) - OEM now has ODBC connectivity to foreign databases, and even allows advanced graphics like monitoring for SQL Server and MySQL.
  • Project Fusion - The Oracle Fusion Middleware" is an CORBA-like tool to allow standard communications protocols between foreign ERP's like SAP. 

How Oracle will implement their 2007 plans

It looks like Larry Ellison thinks that Bill Gates has far too many billions of dollars, and Bill Gates seems to feel the same way about Ellison's wealth. Both Oracle and SQL Server are reliable databases, but they are both chasing the same market, leveraging on their respective benefits:

  • Oracle drives down - Oracle is driving-down into the midcap and small database market with the free Oracle XE, leveraging on their "automation tools", a brilliant umbrella to make Oracle simple for the small business user. They also have Application Express (a.k.a. HTML-DB), a super-easy application development platform that can create working applications in just a few hours.
  • Microsoft Drives up - Microsoft is driving-up into the large database market by using showing that SQL Server is ready for enterprise applications, using huge Windows servers like the UNISYS ES-7000 to show transaction rates of a quarter-millions transactions per minute. Microsoft likes to note that Windows is far easier than Linux, and Microsoft is also enhancing their T-SQL language to compete with the more robust PL/SQL language.

Oracle migration tools for multiple database support

There is a much bigger theme at play with Oracle's push into multi-database support.  Oracle's buying spree of applications products turned-out to be a wise move, and Oracle knows that it's the application selection that drives the choice of database. Oracle has made great inroads with their "fusion middleware", and interoperability layer that allows diverse products to communicate via a uniform interface.

Almost all large shops inherit the underlying database from their choice of vendor applications and they all have SQL Server, Oracle and DB2, and MySQL is also making inroads.

While most companies buy their applications from vendors, there are thousands of custom business applications running on DB2 and SQL Server, a giant market opportunity. Oracle introduced their migration workbench to convert non-Oracle systems, but the challenge is to create software that will quickly replace foreign languages with Oracle SQL and PL/SQL.

There is no reason that fusion middleware could not be extended into competing ERP's like SAP and Microsoft CRM.

Oracle will address their plans by enhancing multiple Oracle migration tools such as the Oracle Migration workbench, and the HTML-DB (Apex) application migration workshop.  We also see interoperability being offered within SQL Developer.

Oracle's SQL Developer is easy to use and very robust, and because it's free, it will get widespread adoption for it's basic functions, but it's the new interoperability features that are the most intriguing.  Extending the SQL Developer browser to support foreign databases is not a huge technical achievement, it lays the foundation for migrating entire applications to Oracle.  By using Oracle migration tools, replacing foreign procedural code with Apex and PL/SQL, and using fusion middleware, Oracle is making major strides into their competitors database markets.

 to allow existing applications to use Oracle as their back-end database.


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