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Oracle expands data hub

Kicking off its four-day user event in San Francisco, Oracle president Charles E. Phillips Jr. told thousands of users that the company plans to roll out an expansion of its data hub over the next year.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle Corp. president Charles E. Phillips Jr. kicked off the company's largest user conference in its history Monday with a keynote presentation highlighting an expansion of its data integration products and offerings for small and medium-sized businesses.

Phillips addressed the nearly 25,000 users attending the four-day Oracle OpenWorld conference. The conference, which now combines users of both Oracle's application and database products, is being held less than three weeks after PeopleSoft shareholders accepted the company's tender stock offer.

Phillips said the company will wait for a decision from a Delaware judge over whether PeopleSoft can use its poison pill provision to squash Oracle's takeover attempt. Phillips said there are no plans in place to integrate PeopleSoft into Oracle's E-Business Suite, but added that if Oracle is successful in merging with PeopleSoft, the PeopleSoft software will not have many more updates.

"We know that many PeopleSoft developers will want to move over to Oracle over time," Phillips said. "Oracle logically will have more updates and be around a lot longer."

But his keynote centered around the company's strategy moving forward, calling Oracle one of the only companies that acts as the sole data manager across both applications and infrastructure.

Oracle plans to expand its data integration product, which was introduced last year, as a Customer Data Hub. The company is also introducing four new hubs over the next year, with integrators that connect to what Oracle calls product data, citizen data, financial consolidation data and financial services accounting data.

The different hubs are in various stages of development with some early adopters currently experimenting with the beta versions, Phillips said. The Citizen Data Hub will be aimed at government agencies while the product data and financial data hubs will be attractive to manufacturers and investment firms.

"Information that's consistent and shared quickly across the landscape has always had the power to change companies," Phillips said. "You can have this be the single repository that sits underneath all your applications."

The products allow customers who can't afford to migrate all of their applications to Oracle 11i to retain legacy applications and benefit from a single data model. Data hubs also integrate data from SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems Inc. and other vendors.

Phillips said companies are streamlining their infrastructure and discovering islands of fragmented data. Order management, receivables and sales oftentimes have their own data repositories making data sharing across a company inefficient or almost impossible, Phillips said.

"We have all these fragmented systems and the result of that is very expensive," Phillips said. "It can be a very painful process to try and repair."

Oracle's data hub uses Web services to talk to incompatible applications and create a single recording system for data such as financial accounting or customer service orders.

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