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Oracle, Vodafone Partner to Mobile Enterprise

In a move that will enable European enterprise customers widespread mobile access to key business applications and data, Oracle Corp. and Vodafone today announced a joint initiative to offer integrated mobility solutions based on the new Oracle 10g application server and Vodafone Network Services. The new relationship will cover joint development work, marketing efforts, and an intention to launch further products, and begins immediately.

As Oracle and Vodafone vie for the lone open seat on Silicon Valley's Java Community Process, today's announcement marks the first time since the Open Mobile Architecture Initiative in 2001 that the two companies have partnered toward a common goal. Representatives from both companies were excited about the opportunity to work together.

"Increasing productivity through mobilizing software applications is one of the key growth opportunities for Vodafone," Peter Bamford, Group Marketing Officer at Vodafone, told a standing-room crowd at the Oracle World Paris 2003 event in France. "With this joint proposition [with Oracle], we have been able to reduce complexity with an end-to-end solution based on open standards."

At Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., officials echoed this optimism exactly. "Mobility is becoming critical for the enterprise market," said Sergio Giacoletto, executive vice president of Oracle EMEA. "To remain productive, employees need instant access to relevant, accurate, and up-to-date corporate information."

Oracle's contribution to the partnership hinges on its new 10g Database and 10g Application Server, technologies based on a proprietary version of traditional grid computing. As Giacoletto explained, the partnership with Vodafone will enable Oracle customers with field workers to perform their jobs more efficiently, allowing them to rely on mobile iterations of Oracle TeleServices and Oracle Field Service applications to conduct tasks such as on-the-spot scheduling of service calls and remote product ordering from the field.

In addition to providing the mobile-enabling middleware to facilitate these mobile features, Oracle also has contributed mobile access to the Oracle Collaboration Suite and key aspects of the Oracle E-Business Suite and its integrated set of business applications. Vodafone Network Services has embedded Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) into these Oracle products to create and extend the features to mobile devices through the 10g server.

Oracle and Vodafone also will offer support programs for developers, providing white papers, took-kits and e-mail support for those who use the new capabilities.

Though the two companies have been vague about further details of the initiative, experts hailed the announcement as revolutionary. According to Adam Zawel, director of the wireless/mobile enterprise and commerce division at the Yankee Group in Boston, the deal is a "win-win" for both parties, and could usher in a "new era" of mobile enterprise computing applications.

"Big technology vendors are all trying to provide complete mobile computing solutions to businesses, and these solutions should be able to plug in any kind of device, any kind of network, and enable any kind of application to be easily ported to wireless," Zawel told internetnews.com. "With a partnership like this, they can sort out some of those details and truly support any network they want."

Currently, Oracle customers in health care, government, utilities and media industries are piloting the new capabilities. Oracle officials said the capabilities were scheduled to be available generally in November of this year.