Linux, e-gov't strong drivers for A-P, says Oracle

In a meeting with Asia-Pacific journalists in San Diego recently, Derek Williams, executive vice president of Oracle Corp.'s Asia-Pacific division, claimed a 55 percent market share in the region.

Williams said this his firm enjoyed an A-P growth rate of eight percent in the second quarter, tipping the e-government and financial--particularly retail banking and insurance -- sectors as strong areas for future expansion.

Oracle claims 1,700 applications customers across the A-P region, with 500 currently live on the current version Oracle E-Business Suite 11i and another 600 11i implementations underway, "right across the region," said Williams, though he mentioned that China, South Korea and Australia were in the forefront.

Williams also said that health care would grow in the future but added he will "put that on the radar for now," and future discussion on "growth opportunity in Asia...very worthwhile." He added that while telecom industry was "flat here in North America," growth in that sector was strong throughout A-P and particularly in China.

On the popularity of e-government in the region, Williams waxed ebullient. "Almost every government in the region has initiatives in this area," he said. "(E-government) is about service to citizens, improving productivity, lowering's everywhere." Williams described e-government as the "most desirable application right now and least vulnerable to the economic downturn."

However, he specified that the level of action varied significantly from district to district. "It's all about people with vision, people with focus, making it happen," said Williams. "Some governments, you can meet the chief minister and get a decision the following day."

Taking China as an example, Williams described the country as "digitizing their cities" and pointed to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a driver for IT growth. "China, once it decides it wants to do something, makes it happen," he said.

The Oracle A-P chief also gave "credit to the Hong Kong government, even though they've been given some stick (on their e-government initiatives)."

On the topic of partnership, Williams said that his firm has achieved success by partnering with local companies. "Today, about 75 percent of implementations in Asia-Pacific are led by our partners," concluded Williams. "We do have very strong partners in HK", although he declined to name them, "and those partners will help us to move into China."

Oracle Asia-Pacific has also seen interest grow in its Linux-based applications, said Oracle in a statement. "We continue to see strong Linux interest," added Williams, from what he described as large private and public organizations as well as small enterprises in the region.

Oracle outlined Hong Kong's Van Shung Chong Holdings Ltd (VSC Group) as an example -- the firm's business involves building materials and industrial products in the construction, telecom, and automotive parts industries in Hong Kong and China. "VSC Group replaced (their) fragmented legacy systems running on PCs and UNIX servers," said Oracle, with their Linux-based Oracle suite Implemented in phases starting in June 2002, and expected to complete by end-2003.

Oracle will continue to meet the specific demands of SMEs, added Williams. "In Asia-Pacific, SMEs make up about 50 percent of our customer base," he said , adding that the plan was to meet their specific demands for cost-effective, rapid implementations.

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