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Oracle Pitching More Woo to SMBs

Oracle is padding its portfolio with new software and services targeted for small- to medium-sized (SMB) companies in North America.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software giant also said it is expanding its Applications Sales Channel to partners in an attempt to develop a reseller market and boost partner relationships. Oracle has been offering SMB software and service support in Europe and Asia Pacific since 2002.

Both maneuvers by the software vendor this week are attempts a breaking out of its large vendor stereotype and make itself more appealing to companies that need between 10 and 50 user licenses and are currently served by PeopleSoft, Lawson Software, and Microsoft .

Oracle said its strategy is to wow customers with a packaged of Oracle E-Business Suite 11i business applications including: Oracle Financials, Oracle Inventory, Oracle Discrete Manufacturing, Oracle Order Management, Oracle Purchasing, Oracle Tele-Sales, Oracle Tele-Service, Oracle Field Sales and Oracle Daily Business Intelligence applications.

"The maturity and scalability of the Oracle E-Business Suite allows us to continually introduce innovative, affordable, low-risk offerings to help businesses of any size succeed with Oracle," Charles Phillips Oracle president said in a statement. "Oracle E-Business Suite Special Edition is proven and recommended by our customers and partners around the world and we believe we can replicate that success in North America."

Pricing for the new offering, including implementation, hosting, education and support services, will be set by partners and sold separately, Oracle said.

The database giant said it is also in the process of signing partners who will sell Oracle applications. Early entrants include Abaris, Baytree, Core Services Corporation, Dynamic Information Systems, Lucidity Consulting Group, oto Global Solutions, Vertex Systems, Wave Consulting Group and Whitbread Technology Partners.

Once signed up, partners can tap into Oracle's expertise in the form of sales consultants, demo centers and executive briefing centers. Each Oracle partner will be led to provide inside sales support including proof of concept and sales consulting capabilities. Oracle also said it would offer partners more than 30 classes to train partners on all facets of the customer experience, including sales, implementation and technical support.

"By allowing select qualified partners to sell Oracle business applications, we hope to tap our partners' local credibility and trust to expand the reach of the Oracle E-Business Suite while generating more revenue for both Oracle and its partners," Phillips said.

The push for SMBs comes at a good time for Oracle, in the database.

IT industry analyst firm AMR's Research issued a report this week, "Database Consolidation: Reducing Cost and Complexity" which seeks to set itself apart from rivals like Microsoft are winning the battle of the database.

The study found Oracle Database by Oracle ranks at the top, with 57 percent of consolidators using Oracle planning to increase its usage, while only 17 percent plan to decrease. Microsoft's SQL Server is not far behind, with 48 percent increasing its use and 22 percent planning to decrease. IBM's DB2 is trailing, with only 43 percent planning to increase its usage, and around 30 percent planning to decrease its usage.

"Nonetheless, with 70 percent at least preserving the status quo, DB2 remains a formidable force in database consolidation," said AMR research analyst Kirby said in his newsletter this week.

In related news, lawyers for Oracle will be in Delaware next week hoping to remove PeopleSoft's Customer Assurance Program (CAP). Oracle claims the site was launched to slight Oracle and without the chance to review or approve it.

The CAP program is one of a handful of obstacles preventing Oracle from its current $7.7 unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft. A U.S. federal judge's dismissal of the Justice Department's antitrust suit cleared the way for the deal to continue earlier this month. The acquisition must still face a review by the European Commission, PeopleSoft's civil trial slated for January 2005 and a so-called "poison-pill" embedded in PeopleSoft's bylaws.