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Oracle's Ellison: You Can’t Touch This

Wanting to keep its customers from meddling with Oracle software, chairman and CEO Larry Ellison told attendees during his keynote speech at Oracle Apps World in New Orleans, “It costs you a whole lot more to change our software than to buy it.”

This ties in with the latest message Oracle wants to get out: “If you can’t eliminate custom applications, then minimize. The message still holds – either eliminate or minimize customization through systems integration,” Ellison said.

Oracle is now looking to get customers to use its software as is. With its complete e-business suite, the company is trying to address issues of systems integration -- notably pulling together all a company’s information onto one centralized database. Many companies now have numerous databases -- each housing different information, such as marketing, sales, service, management, and customer data.  Ellison believes having all your information on separate databases is counterproductive.

“Having all these separate systems costs a lot and fragments data, that is the problem we tried to solve with 11i. A system has to have marketing, sales, service, and management, but it also has to be global -- it has to understand German and Greek letters. Complete means global. That’s what we’re trying to deliver with 11i [the e-business suite].”

Ellison says Oracle is delivering largely complete software that should suit your company’s needs. “It will meet about 80 to 85 percent of your company’s needs without any changes. So what we’re asking customers to do is, don’t add in that last 10 or 15 percent. If you start heavily modifying our software and we come out with a new release, you can’t take it. And if you call us up for help, we can’t help you.”

Ellison went on to say, “We are constantly improving our software and we want you to be able to take it. If you heavily modify our software, then you can’t upgrade. In my experience, the level of unhappiness is related to how much you have modified our software. The more you modify, the less happy you are.”

Although Ellison says the software will not likely meet all of your needs right away, Oracle wants to learn -- and have companies learn -- what it is that will make the software meet 100 percent of their needs. “Let’s get those benefits of Internet computing, let’s improve our understanding of Internet computing. You can’t know what is going on in your business until you have all your customer, employee, and supplier data on one network. These are the insights you’ll get by getting your systems up and running.”

Despite the fact that Ellison wants to keep users from writing code for the Oracle suite, he also wants users to know that it shouldn’t be entirely hands-off computing. “It doesn’t mean you can’t tailor our software to your business, but you shouldn’t be writing code and changing our programs.”

As a further incentive to keep its customers from meddling with the software code, Oracle is pushing another angle -- software as a service. With this option, Oracle will act as a modified ASP, handling your company’s computers for you. “We can install a computer at your shop and then manage it for you,” Ellison says.

For many in the industry, the messages Oracle sent out at Apps World were nothing to write home about. But Ellison continued to plug his message about unifying your systems using Oracle’s e-business suite and having it be a mostly hands-off endeavor. “One network, one database, one system -- let us finish it for you.” – Alicia Costanza

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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