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Application integration takes center stage at OpenWorld

Oracle's plan to simplify the application integration process could cause a stir among its systems integrator partners, one expert says.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle president Charles Phillips showcased Oracle's integration, middleware and systems management products at the

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During his opening keynote address to thousands of OpenWorld attendees, Phillips said that customers can count on Oracle's Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Suite and

For Oracle -- which has purchased 41 companies over the past 45 months, including CRM giants Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Corp. -- providing customers with integration capabilities is important, one expert says, particularly if the vendor wants to make good on its Apps Unlimited pledge to continue supporting customers who use older versions of the acquired applications. Oracle plans to combine the "best" components of its acquisitions in a new service-enabled applications platform called Oracle Fusion but has repeatedly said it won't force customers to upgrade.

"They have to build these integration capabilities in order to make Apps Unlimited work and sell additional modules," said Ray Wang, a principal analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "If you can't integrate the acquisitions, then they do not achieve the synergies."

Oracle's plan to simplify integration is cunning, Wang said, since it can point to AIA's pre-packaged integrations as a cost-effective alternative to time consuming integration projects conducted with the help of systems integrator firms.

But Oracle could face a backlash from its systems integrator partners if those firms can't replace revenue lost to AIA with additional -- if less time consuming -- integration projects, he explained.

"One way for Oracle to mitigate this risk is to have system integrators build out process integration packs on their own and extensions to AIA," Wang said.

Another challenge for Oracle, he said, is getting those pre-packaged process integration packs just right for the industries they serve.

"Industry process standards may change how business processes are codified," Wang explained. "Oracle has to get the level of process granularity right and the right level of semantic information by industry. This requires a good level of coordination among major industry heavyweights."

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