Oracle broadens software hosting program

Company targets software-as-service businesses with "on demand" database program.

Oracle introduced a new hosting service on Monday geared toward other software makers--the company's latest push to capitalize on the growing popularity of subscription software.

The program, Oracle On Demand for Independent Software Vendors, promises software companies a secure, reliable platform for delivering their own programs as a hosted service.

For $2,000 per processor a month, the package includes an Oracle database, software development tools and a system management program--all set up and maintained by Oracle on its own computers. For an extra $1,000 per month per processor, Oracle will throw in its application server programs. For another $10 per user per month, the company includes an e-mail server.

The new service extends Oracle's continuing effort to build a software rental business, an effort it embarked on nearly five years ago. The program has had several incarnations as Oracle struggled to find the right formula. It re-launched the service more than two years ago, offering to manage customers' database and application-server programs for a fee. Oracle executives say that program, Oracle On Demand, is now one of the company's fastest-growing units.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard and a host of other major computing players have launched rival hosting services in recent years. Initial public offerings of stock this year by application hosting firms and RightNow Technologies have also revived interest in the concept, which had lost favor in the wake of the dot-com bust.

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