Former Oracle President Phillips Lands At Infor

Charles Phillips, who stepped aside as Oracle's president when former HP CEO Mark Hurd joined the database giant just last month, has been named the CEO and a member of the board of directors at Infor.

The appointment pits Phillips in a head-to-head Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software market share battle against his old company and boss Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Solution providers said the deal gives the Atlanta provider of ERP software for midsized applications inside knowledge of Oracle's strategy and customer base as Infor moves to increase its share of the ERP market.

"He knows Oracle's strategy and where all the bodies are buried and he is familiar with all of Oracle's largest clients," said Martin Tarr, CEO of Tiburon Technologies, which specializes in migrating legacy application to Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. "It's a huge win for Infor."

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Next: The Trade Secret Issue

The Infor appointment raises the issue of whether Ellison will take the same tack that HP used when Hurd joined Oracle, filing a lawsuit against Oracle alleging that the appointment would lead to trade secrets being compromised.

Oracle and HP settled the potential legal dispute over Hurd's appointment last month in what the two companies called a confidential settlement.

No matter what happens, solution providers said Phillips faces big challenges in taking the helm of a company serving customers that are being squeezed in an IT market being wracked by the recession.

In a prepared statement, Phillips hinted that he may go on the acquisition trail. "In a consolidating industry, Infor has proven acquisition expertise, having successfully integrated over 70 companies," he said.

Next: Infor Attempts To Strengthen Ties To Solution Providers

Infor, which was created through a series of acquisitions that included SSA Global and GEAC, sells a broad array of business applications and is generally considered to be the third-largest supplier of business software behind SAP and Oracle. About 20 percent of Infor's license sales are through the channel.

Phillips takes the CEO title from Jim Schaper, Infor’s current chairman and CEO, who will remain chairman of the company, and continue to play a critical role in the company’s strategic development, according to Infor.

Schaper also serves as a senior operating partner at Golden Gate Capital, Infor’s primary shareholder.

The Phillips appointment comes with Infor attempting to strengthen the relationships with its 1,400 VARS. Earlier this year, Infor created a new North American Channel Advisory Council council to strengthen its solution provider partnerships.

Next: Can Phillips Deliver?

Phillips singled out Infor for what he called "quietly building the third largest enterprise applications company in the world, "with 59 percent compound annual revenue growth over the last seven years, higher margins than eight of the top 10 application companies, and a track record of leading innovation."

Phillips said Infor, which has over 70,000 customers in 125 countries, also claimed that the company is poised for growth with its next generation software shipping in January.’

Tarr said there have been top executives that have left Oracle and succeeded like founder and CEO Marc Benioff and a number of others who have failed at taking a slice of the software pie from Oracle.

"It'll be interesting to see if he (Phillips) turns out to be another Marc Benioff or makes a lot of noise and fails to deliver," he said.