Oracle Preps SMB Offering

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Oracle is rushing to recruit channel partners as it gets ready to take on Microsoft in the SMB space with a new version of its Application Server. That was the message the database giant presented Aug. 12 at a meeting before financial analysts in New York.

Oracle senior vice president Thomas Kurian told the audience the company plans to announce the new spin of its 10g Application Server, angled at small and midsize business customers next month at its Oracle World conference in London. The product will be called Application Server Standard Edition 1.

"This coupled with our database will allow you to have the same capabilities as Microsoft," he said, referring to Microsoft's Windows Server System. "It's priced very attractively for the channel. We're working very actively to recruit channel partners."

In targeting the SMB arena, Oracle believes that Standard Edition 1 will enable it to both fill a gap in its product lineup and sell into an area that's underserved by its traditional competitor base of BEA, IBM and Sun.

Oracle's Application Server is a broad, integrated suite of middleware, which enables customers to create Web portals, Java apps and perform applications integration. Working alongside the company's 10g database product, it consists of software components covering five areas: J2EE, enterprise portal, integration, business intelligence and identity management.

One marketing pitch Oracle will make in support of its Standard Edition 1 is that Microsoft's product is tied to Windows. "Microsoft is the primary player [in SMB], but it doesn't run on Linux," Kurian said. "A lot of companies want to run on Linux because it's free."

On the channel front, Oracle said that while it will continue to emphasize its direct-sales effort, it will also work hard to recruit more VARs. "From a channel point of view, between 39 percent and 45 percent of our revenue comes indirect," Kurian said. "There are lots of VARs, systems integrators and ISVs developing solutions and selling them to our customers."

Oracle currently has some 1,200 VARs, Kurian said. As part of its bid to up that number, Oracle is going to IBM and Sun resellers and pitching its products as an alternative.

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