Oracle's new business
Oracle Business Online is a new service that gives customers access to Oracle's business applications suite via the Web for a monthly fee. Six-year Oracle veteran Don Haig, vice president in charge of the new service, recently spoke with IDG's John Cox about the new offering.
IDG: Where did Oracle get the idea for this new service?
Haig: Companies in the $US50 million to $500 million revenue range were saying to us: "I really like your software, but for various reasons, I have trouble running it internally. Why don't you run it for me?"
At the same time, we rolled out Version 10.7 [now Version 11] of the Oracle Applications suite, which was the first Web-enabled version. We could then deploy a hosted version of our applications much more easily.
What reasons were customers giving for their inability to deploy and manage this software themselves?
Foremost was the lack of availability of IT personnel. Other barriers are the high up-front capital costs and not having the needed skills in their existing staff to deploy or maintain the applications.
Why should customers trust Oracle to deliver applications from its new data centre?
It's true we have not offered data centre operations as part of our consulting services. But we have the wherewithal to run large data centres. We have significant involvement from Sun and Hewlett-Packard in setting up the pilot data centre. They're providing servers, technical architecture resources and service resources.
When will the new service be available?
We're starting the pilot program with about six customers who will go through the implementation process with us. We'll make it generally available in the US during the first half of 1999.
The plan is to start with horizontal applications, such as purchasing and order entry.
Then we'll add our discrete manufacturing applications, along with applications from our independent software vendor partners, in the latter half of 1999.
How will you ensure security with different customers accessing the same data centre?
There is a separate instance copy of each software application for each customer. The customers may share hardware at the data centre, but that should be transparent to them.
Customers will have their own data circuits to access the application, and we'll provide encryption. Customers administer access through user IDs, passwords and access privileges.
We plan to have a third party, such as one of the major accounting firms, review our security controls, and we'll have off-site backup and disaster recovery.