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Volume 14, Number 11 -- March 14, 2005

But Wait, There's More

Oracle Rains on SAP's Retek Parade

Oracle made a $9-per-share bid for software maker Retek last week, barely a week after Oracle's chief rival in the ERP space, SAP, announced that it and Retek had signed a definitive merger agreement for SAP to purchase Retek for $8.50 per share, or $496 million.

The move clearly shows Oracle is not about to let Retek--a top provider of enterprise software to companies in the retail industry and one of Oracle's top business partners--go to SAP without a fight. "The vast majority of Retek customers already have a strong Oracle relationship," says Oracle co-president Charles Phillips. "The Retek customers I've talked to said they'd prefer that Oracle buy Retek."

Oracle and Retek have been partners for 19 years, and last fall, the two companies discussed the possibility of merging, according to a letter from Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison to Retek's board. What's more, Ellison claims in the letter that 80 percent of Retek's customers are currently running Oracle software, and that most of Retek's applications are built with Oracle's technology and development tools.

Oracle's unsolicited $9-per-share bid puts the cost of an acquisition at about $525 million. Oracle began buying Retek shares on the open market Monday, and by Tuesday, it claimed to have purchased 10 percent, or 5.5 million, of the outstanding shares.

"Oracle's applications business in North America is larger than SAP's," says Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison. "We intend to defend our number one position."

Oracle says it has already put "extensive thought" into how it would integrate Retek's Java-based products with its own. "Since Oracle's products are complementary with Retek's, we will not need to rationalize duplicate product sets or customer migration paths," Ellison said in his letter. "Retek's existing products will simply become part of the Oracle E-Business Suite."

The incident is reminiscent of the timing of Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft in the summer of 2003. PeopleSoft, the number three ERP vendor at the time, had just announced plans to purchase the fourth largest ERP vendor, J.D. Edwards, when Oracle made an unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft, sans J.D. Edwards. PeopleSoft eventually completed its friendly acquisition of J.D. Edwards in August 2003, and Oracle eventually completed its hostile acquisition of PeopleSoft in January 2005.

IBM Chops pSeries 670 and 690, Holds Back on Cuts for iSeries 870 and 890

IBM has some old pSeries 670 and pSeries 690 iron in the barn, and it is slashing prices on components for these servers to move it through its channel and into customers' data centers. What Big Blue is not doing, however, is giving iSeries shops similar discounts on identical features.

IBM has announced two promotions for these servers. The first gives customers who buy upgrades for their pSeries 690 servers (that is the 32-way "Regatta-H" box) from the 1.3 GHz Power4 or 1.7 GHz Power4+ processors to the faster 1.9 GHz Power4+ Turbo processors a 65 percent discount. The deal applies specifically to feature 5241, an eight-core Power4+ complex that has a list price of $800,000 and feature 7431, which is an eight-core module with only four cores activated that costs $228,000. This promotion expires June 22.

In addition to the discounts on those top-end Power4+ chips for the pSeries 690, IBM is also offering a 65 percent discount on activations of Power4, Power4+, and Power4+ Turbo processors in existing pSeries 670 (16-way) and pSeries 690 machines. Customers have to activate cores in increments of four, and they also have to activate 8 GB or 16 GB of main memory on those systems at the same time. This is a lot of dough, but IBM is giving what is probably the most generous discounts in its history on these features. This deal expires on June 24.

If you are an iSeries shop and you want to add processor or memory capacity to your iSeries 870 or 890 servers, you should demand the exact same deal as the pSeries shops are getting. There is no way for IBM to argue that anything other than this is fair.

HelpSystems Partners with XopanTech in Mexico

iSeries systems management software vendor Help/Systems announced last week that it has formed a partnership with XopanTech, a provider of financial services and ERP applications in the Mexican market. Under that partnership, XopanTech, which is based in Mexico City, will sell and support the Help/Systems' Robot line of automation and performance optimization software for the iSeries.

Oracle Tops Relational Database Market in 2004, says IDC

According to statistics compiled by IDC, Oracle has once again been crowned king of the relational database market in terms of the money it rakes in. IDC reckons that Oracle took 43.1 percent of the $14.9 billion worldwide relational database market, giving it a big lead over IBM and Microsoft.

As in other IDC sectors where U.S.-based companies dominate, the 11.6 percent growth that the relational database market posted in 2004 is somewhat suspect, since a large portion of this growth is due to the weakened dollar. The weak dollar has the effect of inflating the reported sales of U.S. companies like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Sybase, and NCR, the top five relational database vendors in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, IBM accounted for 30.6 percent of the relational database market (including sales of the DB2/400 embedded database inside OS/400 on its iSeries line as well DB2 for the mainframe, DB2 for Windows, Unix, and Linux, and Informix for Unix). IBM also has a reasonably large business selling the IMS flat-file database management system, but IDC was not counting such programs in its stats. Microsoft had a 13.4 percent share of the market, with Sybase and NCR (whose integrated database is used in its Teradata data warehousing servers) each getting 3.1 percent. IDC said that IBM and Sybase grew slower than the overall market, while Microsoft had the largest growth. Oracle had smaller growth than Microsoft, but took in an incrementally larger pile of dough selling relational databases last year.

Jedox Open Source Multidimensional OLAP Server Coming in May

German software company Jedox is getting ready to turn the online analytical processing (OLAP) server market on its ear by rolling out an open source variant of its multidimensional OLAP (or MOLAP) server. Jedox currently sells a tool for the Windows environment called Worksheet-Server, which creates multidimensional models that are stored in Excel format. (As such, MOLAP servers do not require relational databases, but can interface with them.) The open source variant of this program, which is being hosted at Open Source OLAP, will be built from Linux, Apache, and PHP. It is expected to be launched in May of this year.

It would be very interesting to see if the future Jedox MOLAP server, which will be open source, could be grafted onto OS/400 and its integrated database, which can handle relational data (in DB2/400 format) or flatfile data (remember the System/36 format?). PHP is supported on the iSeries through the PASE AIX runtime environment, and Apache runs natively in OS/400. So, in theory, whatever PHP code that goes into making the Jedox MOLAP server could be made to run on any AS/400, iSeries, or i5 server with OS/400 and PASE. Alternatively, OS/400 shops could just run the whole shebang in a Linux partition.

IBM Contributes 30 Projects to SourceForge

For all of its desire to be the patent-holding king of the world, Big Blue is well aware that to be perceived as part of the open source community, it has to give away some intellectual property every now and then. That is why IBM has released more than 30 software projects on SourceForge. IBM says it has contributed some 120 different collaborative projects to the open source community; the company has obviously participated formally (or its employees have done so informally) on many more projects. Two of the projects that were singled out for specific mention on SourceForge were the Jikes Java compiler and the Life Science Identifier, which scans networks at healthcare companies for biologically significant data. (This sounds like a bad idea on first reading, considering the sensitivity with which medical records are supposed to be treated.)

In addition to its SourceForge donations, IBM has also seen the light on the PHP development language for Web applications, after realizing about 40 percent of the Web programming tools sold today are based on PHP, not Java or .NET. To that end, IBM has signed a partnership with Zend Technologies, the creator of the PHP language. IBM is throwing in the "Derby" open source variant of its Cloudscape database into the partnership, which was already donated to the Apache Software Foundation and which will now be married with Zend's PHP tools to create an integrated Web application environment that will be supported commercially by Zend. The two companies will also eventually support DB2 as a back-end database with a commercial product. IBM has also launched PHP areas on its developerWorks site, which has 4.5 million registered users.

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Managing Editor: Shannon Pastore
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Shannon O'Donnell,
Victor Rozek, Kevin Vandever, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.


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