Oracle and the Little

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2006-06-05 Print this article Print

Guys"> Oracle is similarly eager to close deals with the little guys. The push goes back a year and a half, said Willie Hardie, vice president of database product marketing at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif.

A significant step was the release of Oracle Database 10g, which includes streamlined installation and administration features.
Oracle offers two scaled-down versions of the flagship product: the very basic Express Edition and the more advanced SE 1, which includes support for two CPUs and some features of the high-end Enterprise Edition, including unlimited database size, support for 64-bit systems and cluster failover.

One customer, Enetrix, which offers hosted e-commerce solutions that measure customer feedback, chose to build its offerings on SE 1 on top of Microsoft Windows. "[SE 1] had the features we needed. Its four times the cost to go with Oracle Enterprise," said Jody McDonough, vice president of product development and chief operating officer of Enetrix, in Middleton, Wis.

Read more here about Oracle adding support for the Microsoft .Net Framework and Windows Server System, including the SQL Server database, to Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control. SAP now has about 32,000 customers and is aiming to increase that total to 100,000 in the next four years, which will require a major push among small-enterprise customers.

At its Sapphire user conference May 16-18, SAP and IBM inked a deal that will increase the number of IBM channel partners versed in SAP software from 12 to 40 by the end of 2007. The partners will be selling scaled-down versions of SAP applications with fixed fees and implementation times and will focus on specific vertical markets.

The channel push with IBM comes as competitive opportunities appear among traditional midmarket competitors. JD Edwards, now part of Oracle, may be in a holding pattern in gaining new accounts. As it is, Oracle is touting its Fusion plan to integrate its ERP (enterprise resource planning) lines, including those of JD Edwards. Many customers are sitting on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome.

Other midmarket ERP players are consolidating as well. Infor Global Solutions on May 15 acquired SSA Global, which had itself acquired a gaggle of companies in recent years. Lawson Software in June 2005 acquired Intentia, which focuses on the manufacturing market.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is moving up the food chain even as big players such as SAP try to move down. Webasto US, the North American unit of German auto-parts maker Webasto, considered SAP software for an ERP implementation. "To go to SAP worldwide would be cost-prohibitive, even with their lower-end packaging," said Andy Fralick, IT manager at Webasto, in Fenton, Mich. Instead, Fralick chose Microsofts Xapta package. "Microsoft products work out of the box. I dont have to pay a roomful of consultants to get a usable product," said Fralick.

Microsoft has long been implementing a midmarket-focused ERP strategy, weaving together software acquired with Great Plains, Navision, Solomon and Xapta under its Project Green strategy for creating an extensive product line with many shared characteristics.

Fralick said SAP, despite its efforts at reaching smaller enterprises, has more work to do. "[SAP softwares] problem is the same as its strength. It doesnt do a heck of a lot until you heavily customize it. SAP doesnt make its money selling software; it makes its money selling services. Its to its advantage to have you wedded to them for the rest of your life. As long as thats how they market, they will not get the SMB customers," said Fralick.

Small enterprises will get attention disproportionate to their size if they are growing at a rapid rate, which Fox-Hollow is doing in the hot medical technology field. Miller said FoxHollows annual revenues jumped from $37 million in 2004 to $128 million in 2005.

FoxHollow also looks larger than its size because Miller has built a lab for testing IT solutions.

"You normally would not see that in the SMB space," said Miller. "But thats going to be changing, as people want to understand the impact of change on an environment. When you show a vendor you have an internal lab and a comprehensive change management system, they look at you like youre an enterprise customer and you get more respect, and the relationship develops at a faster pace."

Still, many large vendors are just at the beginning of the learning curve. "When I do get contacted by the large vendors," said Miller, "I usually get contacted by four or five people at the company—the left and the right hand rarely know whats going on."

Next Page: Moving to Smallville.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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