The Siebel acquisition will be the last major purchase in Oracle’s shopping binge, CEO Larry Ellison told an audience of thousands at Oracle OpenWorld 2005 on Wednesday.

“We don’t have another acquisition in mind,” Ellison said.

The Oracle CEO said his Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company would steer away from big purchases and spend the next couple of years consolidating and integrating its acquisitions, and getting Project Fusion to work effectively. We don’t have another acquisition in mind.Larry Ellison>Text

Project Fusion – Oracle’s endeavour to create a new technology suite that blends the very best functionality from all its acquired companies – was a central theme at OpenWorld 2005.

Fusion and Fusion Middleware (the company’s “hot-pluggable” middleware suite) will also be the cornerstone of Oracle’s ongoing product development strategy, Ellison said.

SOA and interoperability

Both these initiatives, he said, are based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and a standards approach to building Oracle applications. “SOA is the ultimate architecture. I’m not sure whether anything comes after that.”

The Oracle chief said there would obviously be lots of cool technologies developed in the enterprise applications space, but no better architecture to assemble and organize them than SOA. We’ll have to determine what’s important to the customer. If you ask me now which way we’ll eventually go, I don’t know. But key factors that will determine that decision are customer profitability, performance and security.Text

Through SOA and a standards approach to building applications, he said, Oracle is creating products that are open and interoperable. “The benefits are to our customers as [this approach] allows them to pick non-Oracle products, with the assurance that they would co-exist with their Oracle apps.”

He cited Oracle’s certification of IBM WebSphere for Project Fusion as an example of this openness and interoperability. The certification, while it surprise many, is really a logical fallout of Oracle’s open standards approach, he said. “We’ve also announced DB2 (IBM’s database) support for our i-Flex and Retek applications. That’s because we think choice is a good thing.”

Ellison said the question of whether Fusion apps would work on non-Oracle databases is still open, and the final decision would be based on feedback from customers. “We’ll have to determine what’s important to the customer. If you ask me now which way we’ll eventually go, I don’t know. But key factors that will determine that decision are customer profitability, performance and security.”

Security push

Security, the Oracle CEO said, would be front and centre on his company’s agenda over the next 24 months – and would include initiatives across the entire Oracle stack. “There’s even a debate in Oracle right now as to whether we should allow customers to do non-encrypted backups.”

Specifically, he said, there would be big initiatives in the area of intrusion detection.

At this point Ellison took his customary dig at rival Microsoft.

Noting that the last time an Oracle database was broken into was more than 15 years ago, he contrasted this with Microsoft’s track record. “Remember when Microsoft put up that little database that kept track of your credit card numbers…and [made] it easier for you to shop online? Does anyone know how long it took before that database was broken into? Forty-five minutes!” Unfortunately [automation and BI] really have been two separate worlds…until now. And that really has to change.Text

He said he was impressed when Bill Gates announced, a couple of years ago, that Microsoft would devote the entire month of February to security. “Of course, it’s a short month…I can’t remember whether it was a leap year or not!”

As Voice over IP (VoIP) becomes more pervasive, Ellison predicted security threats would increase exponentially – and intrusion detection take on a whole new meaning. “With VoIP, malicious people can shut down, not just your data networks, they can intrude into and shut down your voice networks. Suddenly as the voice world become digital, it suddenly is exposed to the same risks profiles as the public Internet – because that’s where voice is going.”

Automation with intelligence

Blending process automation with Business Intelligence (BI), Ellison said, would be yet another key focus area for Oracle.

For instance, he noted that software vendors have automated the purchasing process, but haven’t built a lot of BI around it. “For example, one thing I’d like to know before approving a purchase is whether it puts the group over their capital budget or not.”

He said process automation should never be separate from BI, and automation without intelligence has very little value. “Unfortunately [automation and BI] really have been two separate worlds…until now. And that really has to change.”

He said his favourite piece of BI is letting every engineer in Oracle know whether the quality of his or her product is getting better or not. “It’s a very simple measure. Are service requests going up faster than sales (new users)? That wouldn’t be a good sign. [When this happens] we provide the information to our engineers, and if there is a quality problem, they will alter their behaviour. They will spend less time developing new features and more time fixing the existing system.”

And that, he said, is a far better approach than some senior manager directing them to spend more time fixing bugs. “We give people up-to-date, accurate information about what is going on and they can alter their behaviour accordingly.”

Related articles:

OpenWorld: Clearing the confusion about Project Fusion

OpenWorld: Oracle offers ‘hot-pluggable’ middleware



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