Oracle forges closer ties to life-science applications

Users of Oracle Corp.'s E-Business Suite will soon be able to consolidate data from some of their biotech applications into a single database using what Oracle calls its "information architecture for life sciences," the software maker said Tuesday.

The information architecture describes the underlying software structure of Oracle's E-Business Suite, which includes applications in areas like accounting, human resources and customer relationship management. Oracle customers should now find it easier to integrate applications from life sciences partners such as Acero Inc., Dendrite International Inc., geneticXchange Inc. and MDL Information Systems Inc. with their Oracle software, an Oracle spokeswoman said.

Instead of having to make several queries of distributed databases, Oracle customers in the biotech industry will be able to recall disparate types of data from a single data module, the spokeswoman said. This should help companies make faster business decisions by allowing them to access their data through a single interface, she said.

Oracle hopes the life sciences partners listed above will have tuned their software to take advantage of the information architecture by June 1, Jon Simmons, Oracle vice president for life sciences, said in a recent interview.

The information architecture for life sciences grew out of an effort last year to help customers integrate third-party applications more tightly with Oracle's database software. At that time, the Redwood Shores, California, company made the APIs (application program interfaces), data definition languages and data schemas for its business suite available to business software vendors. Tuesday's announcement basically extends that effort to include life sciences software, Simmons said.

Oracle rivals such as IBM Corp. are also working with life sciences partners to forge tighter integration between their applications and Big Blue's database products.

Dendrite develops sales force automation applications for the biotech industry, while geneticXchange provides software designed to make it easier for companies to import and view data from a variety of internal or external sources. MDL's Relational Chemistry Server data cartridges help researchers manage complex molecule structure and reaction databases.

Acero has worked on similar efforts to integrate data at biotech enterprises with its Genomics Knowledge Platform, software used to unify data from different sources and databases. Sun Microsystems Inc. is also supporting Oracle's life sciences effort with its servers and other hardware, the Oracle spokeswoman said.

(James Niccolai, in San Francisco, contributed to this report.)

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