Oracle Takes Aim at Virtualization, SAP

SAN FRANCISCO — In a bid to undermine Wall Street darling VMware and its industry-leading virtualization software, Oracle on Monday said it would be releasing its own free virtualization product later this week.

The announcement, made by Oracle President Charles Phillips during a keynote address here at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference, marks the database giant’s first foray into the fast-growing server virtualization software market. Phillips outlined new products in other areas, as well — most of which are similarly designed to compete head-on with rivals.

He also made no apologies for Oracle’s frenetic acquisition spree, saying the company plans to continue executing on a strategy to deliver “best of breed” applications integrated into a unified software stack based on open standards.

“Instead of having proprietary integration, we wanted to an open middleware stack,” Phillips said to a standing-room-only crowd gathered for the morning’s first keynote address here at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Taking it a step farther, Phillips asserted that Oracle has “become the IPO market for the enterprise software market” and said the company innovates through acquisition.

“At this point in history, acquisitions make more sense because the companies are proven and the products are seasoned,” he said.

Phillips said the 45 purchases Oracle made during the past four years were aimed at helping enterprise customers better counter the complexity of their IT environments. Oracle’s acquisition-based strategy, he said, positions it as the vendor of choice for resolving myriad integration issues in heterogeneous datacenters.

“We want to be responsible for taking these integration problems off your shoulders,” he said. “We have the resources and capital and vision to do it for you.”

One way that Oracle clearly hopes to do it for enterprise customers will be through its new virtualization offering. Oracle VM, which will be available for free download from Oracle’s Web site beginning Wednesday, will support Linux and Windows servers and is based on the Xen open-source hypervisor. The product offers a Web-based management console for server administrators to migrate and manage applications and operating systems running on both virtual and physical servers.

“It’s a single environment in one complete stack,” Phillips said. “One source for server virtualization.”

The company said it would not charge for the software but plans to sell service contracts for updates, bug fixes and other support for either $499 or $999 a year.

VMware isn’t the only competitor Oracle has in its sights. The company’s dogged pursuit of arch-rival SAP for supremacy in the business applications market took another yet turn Monday with the company’s debut of its Oracle Application Integration Architecture for SAP initiative.

The idea is to extend Oracle’s application integration offering to customers running both Oracle and SAP applications, providing a standards-based method to unify their applications as they transition their IT systems to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) .

Oracle said more than 30 percent of SAP customers use one or more Oracle applications. This new application integration architecture is based on its Fusion middleware SOA suite.

“We want to help customers integrate their software with third-party applications made in Germany, for instance, if that’s needed,” Phillips said to a smattering of chuckles.

Oracle on Monday also announced its Application Integration Architecture Foundation Pack, which includes tools for enterprises to model composite business processes that tap into data running on multiple applications. It also debuted three new process integration packs for the communications industry. Each will come with pre-built and pre-configured connectors between Oracle Financials and Siebel DRM software.

Oracle OpenWorld continues through Thursday. Tomorrow, keynote addresses are expected from Intel CEO Paul Otellini as well as Thomas Kurian, Oracle’s vice president for Fusion Middleware, and Ed Abbo, the company’s senior vice president of application development.

The conference is expected to attract more than 42,000 attendees this year, organizers said.

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