Oracle Puts Another Notch In Its Industry Apps Acquisition Stick

Today, Oracle announced yet another acquisition - this one of Phase Forward, a clinical research suite that helps life sciences companies manage their R&D process. Oracle paid $685 million in cash for this acquisition. While my research role focus does not encompass life sciences software specifically, Oracle's overall apps strategy is definitely of interest to me. My thoughts about this deal are as follows:

  • Oracle continues to aggressively acquire industry-specific applications to complement its core ERP solutions (e.g., EBS, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and the yet-to-be-released Fusion Applications). Industry apps enable Oracle to achieve deeper relevance with specific types of businesses, and sell them additional products, including middleware, integration accelerators, BI, databases, core ERP applications, and now even computer hardware.
  • The Phase Forward clinical trials software puts Oracle into the mix in large pharma accounts, where SAP tends to have the lion's share of the wallet for applications.
  • Healthcare overall is a massive market opportunity for which Oracle has only scratched the surface. Oracle only recently established a Health Sciences Global Business Unit, and more acquisitions can be expected in and around the healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare provider solutions may fit into this build-out at some point.

Your thoughts on Oracle's apps strategy and portfolio? Feel free to comment here.

Can Open Office Escape From Under A Cloud?

Like many OpenOffice.org adopters, Forrester's enterprise clients are starting to wonder what's going on with the once-promising open source alternative to Microsoft Office. As one chief technology strategist posited last week: "Oracle has made several strong public pronouncements that their support for OpenOffice.org will continue abated. This, however, begs the question of the increasing functional and technical gap between standard programs like word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations and the new, all-encompassing view of the desktop being adopted by Microsoft in Office 2010. That being so, is there really any future for StarOffice/OpenOffice.org within the enterprise, except as an ever-shrinking niche to support basic, ultra low-cost office document capability on home-use platforms?"

Great question. After 10 years, Open Office hasn’t had much traction in the enterprise – supported by under 10% of firms, and today it’s facing more competition from online apps from Google and Zoho. I'm not counting OpenOffice completely out yet, however, since IBM has been making good progress on features with Symphony and Oracle is positioning Open Office for the web, desktop and mobile – a first. But barriers to Open Office and Web-based tools persist, and not just on a feature/function basis. Common barriers include:

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