Oracle Will Sponsor Own Apps Conferences

PHILADELPHIA (04/28/2000) - In the wake of a major user group's rejection of its offer to serve as host, Oracle Corp. will be sponsoring its own alternative conferences focused on Oracle applications, said Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle, speaking at the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) conference here Thursday night.

Ellison, who offered no specifics on when these coexisting events would start, also said that Oracle would continue to send representatives to the OAUG events.

"We're going to have an alternative conference, Oracle Applications World," Ellison said in response to questions from the floor. The Oracle-sponsored conferences will not be "marketing events," as suggested by conference participants, but will serve as opportunities for Oracle to reach its customers, he said.

At the start of the OAUG conference this week, the OAUG board of directors rejected the Oracle proposal to merge the two North American user conferences into a single spring event that it would host. The OAUG board of directors was swayed by the results of a survey of the OAUG membership that urged the group not to give over control to Oracle.

On other matters, Ellison said Oracle's "evolving" BusinessOnline (BOL) application hosting service will be offering a third alternative, Custom, to its Webtone and Standard offerings. The Custom level of service will allow users to modify and add to their hosted applications, but the emphasis will be on moving users to the Webtone level of service, he said.

Although the BOL service was not intended to provide hosting support for best-of-breed applications, "it turns out there are degrees of modifications and additions" that Oracle will allow, Ellison said. "That was a difficult decision to make," he said because he was the mastermind behind BOL and didn't want to allow for deviations.

As for the delivery date for the delayed Oracle Applications suite 11i , Ellison said that the CRM (customer relationship management) offerings are due in May, filling out the suite -- the ERP portions are already shipping.

However, sidestepping specifics, Ellison acknowledged that "we were omitting essential components" such as a tax calculation package. In that instance, Oracle will allow users to integrate their own preferred package or use the third-party software that Oracle will OEM.

Not missing an opportunity to comment on Microsoft's plight, Ellison recounted the major points in the U.S. government's case against Bill Gates and company, adding that Microsoft had a "natural" monopoly with its Windows user interface because the market showed its preference for the operating system. "[But] they used their Windows monopoly to get a monopoly in browsers and it worked. The most innovative company in Silicon Valley is gone," he said referring to Netscape Communications. "If we (Oracle) end up in a situation where we're the [natural] monopoly, we may make other mistakes, but we're not going to break the law."

When asked what it feels like to possibly surpass Gates in terms of personal wealth, Ellison said, "I would have rather passed Bill on the way up than pass Bill on the way down. Either way, it's cool."

The (OAUG) was formed by users in the San Francisco Bay Area in May 1990 when 32 users of the Oracle Application suite gathered to create an independent forum. Based in Atlanta, the OAUG counts more than 15,000 user members worldwide, and is on the Web at www.oaug.org.

Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, California, is at www.oracle.com.

Eugene Grygo is an InfoWorld senior editor.

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