I Want My ISVs: Microsoft, Oracle Step Up Support

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It's cool to be an ISV again.

Oracle and Microsoft-not necessarily the best of ISV partners in the past-have turned up the heat on their ISV recruitment, support and training efforts.

Two weeks ago, Oracle said it would front $150 million this year alone to recruit and foster Linux application development.

Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, who last year talked about taking market share from analytics, storage management and other ISV partners, showed up at an ISV confab in New York last week. ISVs can embed Oracle's own 9iAS, Java Edition app server for free in their offerings ne noted. Oracle's database and other offerings are also embeddable at a reasonable cost. "Don't mistake this for altruism," Ellison told a few hundred ISVs. "We hope your customers will come back and buy more stuff from us,"

No ISV who's been around for more than a year would make that mistake. ISVs in a world dominated by a few software powers, must be pragmatic.

"It's a love-hate relationship. It's coopetition. The Oracle database people are good partners [to us] but on the other side they have these apps," said Jeffrey Read, vice president of PeopleSoft's MidMarket Operations.

Companies like Siebel Systems, SAP, have similar issues with Microsoft, which announced its own new ISV program last Monday. These ISVs develop for Windows but view Microsoft applications as a long term threat. Industry players remember Microsoft decimated Borland International in PC databases; Lotus Development in spreadsheets and Softwre Publishing Corp. in presentation graphics. These were all Microsoft ISVs.

A Microsoft ISV paints a bleak picture. "Microsoft's partner ecosystem is weighted towards service providers because MCS can't do it all. Then it's 'oh yeah, our ISV partners.' There you'll see Plumtree, Epicore and on down the list. It's not a pretty picture. Where do you rank Pivotal or Onyx now? Are they really considered partners post Great Plains/Navision?" This partner,who requested anonymity, says the answer is a resounding "No."

Some laud Microsoft's new ISV effort which includes porting centers, a new ISV portal and cheap access to operating systems, tools, and business applications.

"It's not like Microsoft has a hidden agenda. If you know the nature of the beast and are prepared to deal with it, deal with it already," said Steve McHale, senior channels analyst for IDC.

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