BEA customers welcome Oracle acquisition

There’s light at the enterprise software acquisition tunnel

Oracle's seemingly endless buying spree may have alienated some customers, but its recent $US8.5 billion bid for BEA Systems is seen as a step in the right direction.

Local enterprises Hawker de Havilland and Australian Vintage envisage an Oracle-owned BEA as beneficial in terms of vendor management and product support.

John Williamson, IT director at local Boeing subsidiary Hawker de Havilland, said for the most part a merger between the two software giants will be beneficial for his organization.

"It's a convenient acquisition for us as it is better to deal with less vendors," Williamson said.

"We find it easier to deal with a limited number of vendors so this reduces the number we have relationships with. The second thing that would be benefit is the alignment of development paths of both applications and the prospect of tighter integration."

Williams said if BEA was acquired by another of the big four software companies during the ongoing enterprise software consolidation, the benefits of application integration with Oracle would have been less likely.

When asked if the acquisition may result in less competition between vendors, Williamson said yes this is more likely, but will be offset by the aggregation of spending and the ability to negotiate with vendors because Hawker de Havilland will have a better buying power.

"The only risk to us is that we would hope they maintain a commitment to the application as we don't want to lose our investment," he said. "Based on history you would expect [Oracle] to maintain the commitment as they have done with the bigger application suites."

Williamson said enterprise application space was destined to converge as "there are only so many ways you can execute a business process".

Williamson doesn't believe Oracle's buying spree is motivated by a desire for greater revenue from existing customers as it can "clearly grow by expanding within its existing product space or by moving into new product spaces".

Another Oracle and BEA Systems customer is wine producer Australian Vintage (formerly McGuigan Simeon Wines), which is in the process of implementing BEA Systems WebLogic Integration 8.1 Service Pack 6.

Australian Vintage CIO Ryan Klose told Computerworld the move is seen as positive because the company is "right in the guts" of the middleware space and since both vendors have "great solutions" it was in a stalemate as to which way it would go.

"I see now with Oracle acquiring BEA they will be doing the hard work and making our jobs as CIOs a hell of a lot easier," Klose said, adding now all the eggs will move into one basket.

On competition, Klose said there will always be an element of competition being dissolved as competition "keeps them honest and innovative", but, like Williamson, he believes middleware technology has "come in front of the business".

"BEA has one agenda across the SOA landscape and Oracle has another agenda and when you are playing with two vendors, and their partners, it has been difficult."

Klose said Australian Vintage is trying to achieve a "true SOA", but has also taken an alternative look at how technology is implemented and while doing that discovered both Oracle and BEA have complementary components.

"My gut tells me Oracle will go with WebLogic as internally it's very sound and proven," he said. "Oracle is very aggressive in this space but some times you want a stable core."

Klose is confident support will be better under Oracle as it has offices in every state capital, is tending to "jump on" customer support issues more, and Australian Vintage already has a close working relationship with Oracle and its partners in Adelaide.

"We saw it coming and Oracle may buy a wine company one day," he said. "We are a heavy Cognos site and that was bought by IBM. We also use JD Edwards, but purchased that after the Oracle acquisition."

Australian Vintage's WebLogic solution, to be deployed by BEA's service delivery partner, Renewtek, is aimed at streamlining the company's supply chain processes by automating stock control to meet changes in customer orders, and reduce IT development and maintenance costs.

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