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Oracle Stacks Utilities Suite - InternetNews.
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Oracle Stacks Utilities Suite

Oracle  agreed to acquire meter data management applications vendor Lodestar today for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition complements Oracle's existing applications suite for utilities management and gives the vendor an even stronger foothold in an industry that has seen greater competition emerge in the wake of deregulation.

Oracle, which acquired another utilities management applications vendor, SPL Worldgroup, in November 2006, can now offer a range of applications, including meter data management, load profiling, customer care, workforce management, pricing, sales, marketing, billing and analytics.

Those capabilities are important to utility companies faced with heavy compliance and environmental regulations. The tools also help some utility vendors who find themselves in the touchy position of providing their rivals with access to their infrastructure while maintaining separate billing systems.

"We expect our combined solutions will help facilitate the transformation of utilities to leading-edge infrastructure that creates operational efficiencies and competitive advantage for our customers," said Larry Hagewood, general manager of Oracle's utilities global business unit, in a statement.

Oracle is far from the only large player attracted to the lucrative utilities market.

Earlier this month, IBM  unveiled its vision of an SOA-based  grid infrastructure to help utilities improve efficiencies and reduce unnecessary power consumption.

Sun Microsystems  and HP  are also conducting similar energy-conscious efforts. Sun created a Blackbox transportable datacenter with special liquid cooling technology while HP has crafted the Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC) system to reduce heat in datacenters. Both offerings were announced late last year.

Two years ago, Oracle's applications nemesis SAP  rolled out a Web services-based platform called SAP for Utilities, which allows customers to customize data exchange processes between companies and adapt workflow processes, such as supplier switch, reconciliation and settlement and payment processing.

Oracle expects its bid for Lodestar to close in May.