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Has Oracle stopped making big acquisitions?

Chris Kanaracus | May 23, 2011
As midyear approaches, Oracle has made only two small acquisitions. This is out of character for a vendor that has made buying other companies a core growth strategy, doing as many as 13 deals each year since 2005, for a total of roughly 70 since then.

For social applications, Oracle has a wide variety of choices, among them oft-rumored acquisition candidate Jive Software.

Expect Oracle to focus on verticals as well, Wang said.

One certain focus will be health care, and not just for electronic medical records, Wang said. Oracle could target areas such as nurse recruiting and adverse event reporting for pharmaceuticals with analytic applications it builds on top of its core BI (business intelligence) stack, he said.

Oracle may not have just software on its mind, given the company's increasing emphasis on hardware.

Last year, Oracle announced a strategic investment in Mellanox, maker of Infiniband interconnects, but so far it hasn't made a big hardware acquisition.

Also, while few expect Oracle will invest heavily in professional services to compete with the likes of Hewlett-Packard and IBM, it could make smaller acquisitions of specialist systems integration firms, particularly for BI.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's plans.

Overall, there's no telling whether Oracle's next phase of acquisitions will be as dramatic as its 2005-2010 run, but users of products in many categories should be braced for change.

When Oracle bought project management vendor Primavera in 2008, customers initially faced some problems, according to one user.

"There was a lot of confusion the first year, year-and-a-half because it wasn't clear where to go for support," said Daniel Williams, chairman of the Oracle Primavera Special Interest Group. Adding to the problem was that Oracle was upgrading its support site at the time.

Primavera customers also had to deal with "a lot of confusion with salespeople. It was not always clear who your Oracle rep was," he said.

The Oracle acquisition also spelled the end for Primavera's much-loved annual conference. Instead, Oracle welcomed Primavera users to its annual OpenWorld show.

"But it wasn't really the same thing," Williams said. "It was more of [a] sales and marketing type of conference."

In addition, "Oracle wants to sell their software to very large companies," he said. Primavera is used by enterprises, but very small companies as well, Williams said. "That's caused a lot of stress."

Some changes have been good since the Oracle acquisition, particularly in terms of product development, Williams said. "The service packs are coming out quicker, things are getting fixed and new features are getting added."

Things have also improved as Primavera customers formed relationships with other Oracle customers, Williams said. The Primavera SIG works closely with the Oracle Applications Users Group and Quest International Users Group.


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