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Oracle: On-demand is Now 'on The Grid'

NEW YORK -- Oracle Corp.  has been selling CRM On Demand, the on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) application, since it inherited the software with its 2005 acquisition of Siebel Systems.

But it hadn't fully embraced it until today.

Oracle President Charles Phillips said today the on-demand CRM application is now fully secure and able to give customers the full power of the Oracle stack.

Speaking during an event for customers and financial analysts here, Phillips noted that on-demand applications that Oracle inherited via the Siebel acquisition "weren't deployed the way we want to do it."

And the way Oracle wants to do it is a little different from how most software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors deliver software on demand.

"We took some time to ruggedize the infrastructure, put it on the grid, and now we're ready to put it on steroids," Phillips said.

Rather than hosting a single instance of the software on a single server and maintaining customer data on a single database (known as multi-tenancy), Oracle will host its software in multiple instances, with each customer's data stored on its own database (single tenancy).

According to Phillips, this approach keeps customer data more secure than multi-tenancy because data from different customers isn't "commingled" in a single database. He noted that Oracle can still achieve the same economies of scale as the traditional multi-tenant SaaS vendors because all the servers are on a single grid, and are administered using Oracle's grid control software.

Moreover, he said, the grid is composed of inexpensive servers equipped with Intel  processors running Linux. Oracle sets performance optimization, user access and other policies using grid control software.

"Multi-tenancy is at the administrative layer," said Phillips.

CRM On Demand, which will be available within the next 12 months for $70 per user per month, plays well with legacy and on-premise software, but it plays especially well with other Oracle applications, company officials said.

Anthony Lye, senior vice president of CRM On Demand, said that analytics is a key differentiator for Oracle. The application is able to pull data from Oracle data warehouses and business intelligence stores to bring sophisticated analytics and historical trends to a standard CRM dashboard.

"Now, CRM On Demand is a real player on the market," he noted.

Lye also demonstrated a wealth management application of CRM On Demand that uses Oracle's Mantis fraud detection software to give customers alerts.

Contrasting this to Salesforce.com's  recent Wealth Management Edition CRM application, Lye said customers would derive greater customer loyalty from being able to alert their clients of suspicious activity on their accounts than simply alerting them that one of their stocks had gone up 5 percent.

According to Lye, Oracle has a built-in advantage over Salesforce.com because it has been selling in the financial services market longer, and because its grid architecture makes the data inherently more secure.

Pure-play and even hybrid SaaS vendors claim that customers no longer bring up security concerns around multi-tenancy, but Lye isn't convinced.

"I challenge the assumption that the security issues have been resolved," Lye told internetnews.com.

Sasa Zorovic, who follows SaaS for Goldman Sachs, noted that, at least for today, Salesforce.com had replaced rival software vendor SAP  as the focus of Oracle's competitive fire.

"I guess Salesforce is becoming the one to beat in this little space," Zorovic told internetnews.com.