Oracle is gearing up for its post-M&A-binge world.
With PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards, Retek and Oblix now in the fold, Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle is about to launch the first major update to its database and is reworking its sales group for an aggressive database and applications push.
Oracle 10g Release 2 (R2) for Linux is due at the end of this month, with Unix and Windows versions to follow later this summer, Oracle executives said.
"With R2, a lot of early adopters will now move [to that] and more conservative companies will move to R1," said Ron Zapar, CEO of Re-Quest, an Oracle partner in Chicago.
About 16 percent of the customer base is on the current Oracle 10g, and with this update, Oracle hopes to hit the 30 percent mark by year's end, said Mark Townsend, senior director of database product management at the company. Oracle 10g shipped in January 2004.
Chief among the new perks will be XQuery support, automated secure backup to tape and easier encryption. In the past, Oracle provided an API for encryption, but that meant applications had to be written to that API. It was difficult to encrypt legacy software. Now encryption is more easily retrofitted, Townsend said. Dataguard has been improved to automate creation of fail-over databases. R2 also adds support for Microsoft's Common Language Runtime, meaning developers used to CLR languages like C++ can stick with them to write back-end logic.
Enterprise Manager 10g R2 also is slated to ship this summer with Real Application Clusters (RAC) provisioning talents. The new release will be able to store certified software imagesof the operating system, database, and RAC installations and configurationsin a library for easier automatic deployment. The updated Grid Control will be able to coordinate deployment of multitier applications.
With R2 of Enterprise Manager, another member of the database family, solution providers can start implementing and managing true grids, Zapar added.
Others are enthused about the automated backup to tape. "We're definitely looking at the new backup for cost savings. We pay a lot of money for Legato licenses, and this seems comparable," said Aris Prassinos, distinguished member of technical staff at Motorola Biometrics. The Anaheim, Calif.-based ISV embeds Oracle's database in the software it sells to law enforcement agencies.
Prassinos also said he is encouraged that Oracle is automating more management features. "In 99 percent of the cases, our customers don't have DBA staff or resources. They don't even have Unix system administrators," he said.
On the sales force side, Ted Bereswill, who had directed the Eastern region of Oracle's North American sales, now leads all of North American technologyor databasesales, according to company documents viewed by CRN. His group, dubbed NA Commercial Technology, will field both sales representatives and sales consultants.
Dan Stoks, who directed the Western region, now will head Retek Global Sales and Consulting. Oracle completed its acquisition of Retek, a leader in retail applications, in April after beating out enterprise apps rival SAP.
And on the applications side, Oracle promoted John Boucher to senior vice president of North American commercial applications.
The personnel moves, which Oracle Executive Vice President Keith Block disclosed internally in early June, were discussed at Oracle's annual sales "kickoff" last week in Las Vegas.
Partners, many of whom have had rocky relationships with Oracle, were pleased. "Ted is very partner-friendly, very in tune with partner issues," Zapar said.
Matt Reaves, vice president of business development at Agilysys, a Cleveland-based Oracle partner and distributor, concurred. "He's very channel- savvy, and that bodes well for partners."
Another longtime partner said a single organizational change more or less cannot make a huge difference in a company known for undervaluing resellers.
Several partners said Oracle has eased up on enforcing its rules of engagement and needs to get that effort back on track to alleviate contention between its sales force and partners.