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IBM Blitz Targets Oracle DB Users

IBM's information management team wants to bring the hammer down on Oracle's database group.

The company has planned a sales blitz to help steer Oracle customers to its DB2 Universal Database, arguing that Oracle is too focused on its applications business at the moment to care for its database customers.

The program will be launched later this week in America, Europe and Asia, with 2,000 IBM sales specialists hitting the streets to sell current Oracle customers on the benefits of switching to DB2.

The Armonk, N.Y., company plans to use its WebSphere Information Integrator software tool as the "information switchboard," helping customers move information stored in Oracle's database products to DB2.

IBM officials said Oracle is ripe for the picking because it is focusing too much on beefing up its applications business to take on No. 1 vendor SAP.

"Right now, Oracle is going through a huge struggle," said an official in IBM's information management group who worked at Oracle until recently and asked to remain anonymous. "They've been buying companies left and right."

Asked how purchasing companies like PeopleSoft and Retek means Oracle is struggling, the IBM employee said Oracle is erring by putting all of its resources into their applications business. This is leading Oracle to give short shrift to its database and other technology offerings, said the representative, who joined IBM last fall.

The IBM employee said IBM is looking to capitalize on this attention shift by going after Oracle's 10g grid technology, which he said turns off customers because it locks them in to buying Oracle products.

"At the end of the day, it's really about how we get information together, aggregate it and make it available to people," the IBM staffer said. "I don't think Oracle thinks that way. Oracle only thinks about everything Oracle, from databases to applications. I don't think they've embraced open standards very well at all."

The staffer said IBM sales workers will try to show Oracle customers how IBM DB2 is less expensive, easier to maintain and an all-around better value for corporations seeking on-demand computing power.

"We're in there telling customers, 'Beware. It's fourth quarter and Oracle is going to try to do the year-end special, but make sure you understand what it is you're getting,'" the official said.

The strategic assault does not come out of nowhere. IBM has been steadily building to this sales attack with a more subtle anti-Oracle message.

IBM last month vowed to work with SAP to deliver a version of DB2 that is customized for existing SAP customers, many of whom currently run Oracle database software.

The sales and marketing assault also comes as Gartner is preparing to release its full database market report. The research firm this week published new figures, showing that new license sales for relational databases totaled $7.8 billion in 2004, a 10.3 percent boost from 2003.

Gartner said IBM and Oracle were nearly tied for the No. 1 position based on new license revenue, with 34.1 percent and 33.7 percent shares of the market, respectively.

Gartner analyst Colleen Graham said the difference between the two vendors was less than $30 million, making it hard to identify a clear leader.

Graham attributed much of IBM's growth to its DB2 sales on the zSeries and Unix platforms, while Oracle enjoyed much of its growth from 10g on Linux.

Microsoft accounted for nearly 51 percent of new license revenue for relational database sales on the Windows server platform, which were $3.1 billion in 2004, up 10 percent from 2003.