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Oracle Courts Business Intelligence Community

By Michael Singer     Feedback

The business software maker looks at both integration and intelligence with the next generation of its Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Customer Data Hub.

Oracle is telling a story of disparate systems and misplaced information this week at its software conference.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software Wednesday released its Oracle Customer Data Hub and other software this week as a way to entice companies to buy their business intelligence offerings and differentiate themselves from rivals like SAP and Siebel Systems.

"We think it is the easiest and cheapest way to get all of your customer information in one database," company CEO Larry Ellison said during his keynote.

The idea behind the new software is to consolidate customer data into a central repository, clean it up into XML forms, refer to it based on e-mail addresses and let companies export it to where they need it.

The Hub is different from a data warehouse, say Oracle execs, in that it allows for real-time access to customer data without the need to move data between the transaction system and a data warehouse.

"We're recognizing that there are a number of ways to integrate our solutions to outside partners," Robb Eklund, vice president of Marketing Oracle CRM, told internetnews.com.

But because the Hub is written using Web services languages like XML and Java, Eklund said it will work with Oracle, non-Oracle and even third-party data integration vendors.

The platform is comprised of three different systems: the Oracle Data Model, which underlies the Oracle E-Business Suite; Oracle Customers Online; and Oracle Data Librarian. The Hub uses the customer definition portion tools to do loading, mapping and data cleansing. Customers can view data online with options on top, including pre-built analytics for customer analysis.

The software is available now and is expected to be part of the next release of its business applications platform, the Oracle E- Business Suite 11i.10. Oracle has already signed up the likes of Network Appliance, Dell and restuarant chain IHOP.

Eklund said Dell, for example, has a customer service project not yet into production that needs to manage more than 200 million customer records using different backend software systems. The company Hub also taps into Oracle's Application Server 10g grid software.

Oracle salespeople are expected to market the software to the company's core customers including construction and engineering, consumer-packaged goods, government, financial services, healthcare, high-tech manufacturing, professional services and telecommunications. Pricing for the Hub was not disclosed.

During a financial analysts briefing, company president Chuck Phillips said Oracle will even do the integration for a customer if they don't already have TIBCO or something else in place.

"We can't force you to use our integration stack," Phillips said.

Oracle is taking the wide-scale approach to the problem but has to fend off established vendors in the field like SAP AG and Siebel Systems .

One avenue, Oracle said, is its next generation E-Business Suite. The company said version 11i.10, which is due out in mid-2004, supports open-standard interfaces established by the Open Applications Group (OAG) and now natively support more than 150 standards-based OAG business objects, such as how to define a purchase order.

Oracle said it is also expanding its support for support industry-specific integration protocols, such as RosettaNet for high-tech manufacturing and HL7 for healthcare.

One area Oracle said it is addressing with the new E-Business Suite is new capabilities for radio frequency identification (RFID). Oracle is one of several companies looking to help suppliers of Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense comply with the mandate to incorporate RFID tags in pallet shipments.

This article was originally published on January 29, 2004
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