APPSWORLD : Oracle tries to speed up 11i rollouts

Faced with sagging new license revenue for its business applications, Oracle Corp. this week plans to expand its efforts to ease user headaches related to installing the latest version of the software.

At its AppsWorld user conference in San Diego, Oracle will announce a set of bundled applications and consulting services that address specific business needs. Called Business Flow Accelerators, the new packages are designed to help users deploy pieces of Oracle’s E-Business Suite 11i product line quickly and cost-effectively, said Fred Studer, vice president of E-Business Suite marketing.

“You don’t have to adopt the whole E-Business Suite,” Studer said. “No question, it’s not an easy thing to install. The more we can help automate that process and get people a quick return, the better.”

Oracle plans to announce 20 accelerator packages, spanning functional areas such as customer relationship management, supply chain distribution and finance. The move expands on an earlier rapid-deployment offering, called FastForward, that was aimed at midsize users. It continues a campaign to reduce 11i’s complexity that Oracle launched at AppsWorld last year.

The simplified bundling plan makes sense to Frank Milano, CIO at Terracon Inc., an engineering consulting firm in Lenexa, Kan. Milano said Terracon is about one-third of the way through a rollout of 11i at its 60 offices, a project that involves installing 25 financial, project management and human resources applications. Bundled packages that combine the applications with software maintenance and other services would be easier to deal with, he said.

Like rival vendors, Oracle has seen its application sales drop because of tight IT spending. The company reported revenue of US$251.7 million for its applications in its second quarter ended Nov. 30, down from $290.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif., said Oracle needs to bring more of its marketing focus back to the applications side of its business. “Applications have taken a back burner to [database and application server] technology at Oracle of late,” Greenbaum said.