Oracle--Retek integration goes quickly

While many industry watchers are lauding SAP's opportunity to steal customers away from Oracle as the company works to integrate its multiple acquisitions, the database and enterprise applications giant is saying that its effort to assimilate Retek is running ahead of schedule.

Earlier this week, Oracle took the wraps off its first set of tools derived via the Retek buyout, essentially a version of the retail specialist's business software integrated with an Oracle portal offering. However, some industry watchers said it was impressive that the firm is already showing co-developed products to customers, no matter how rudimentary the ties between those applications may be. Oracle beat out SAP in a bidding war for Retek that ended in April.

SAP, which has already launched a program aimed specifically at luring Retek customers, has said all along that it didn't really need to do the acquisition to compete with Oracle and others, and that it was mainly interested in Retek's employees, along with "limited amounts of technology" and, of course, its customer base.

Yet, SAP's biggest cut on the Oracle-Retek marriage was that it would take too long for the combined entity to address the integration issues that are known to exist among Retek users, specifically in tying the retail software to other enterprise applications. By getting a release out the door so quickly, Oracle may be able to eliminate some of those doubts, or at least get people to sit down with both companies before buying, according to experts.

"It's a good move for Oracle to show that the integration is going well," said Rebecca Wettemann, a market analyst for Nucleus Research. "They may be trying to take some of the focus off the integration challenges with PeopleSoft, but it's to Oracle's advantage to show how (Retek) is going to fit in as quickly as possible."

As part of its preview of the combined technology, which was first shown to customers at the Retail Systems 2005 Conference and Exposition in Chicago in late May, Oracle rolled out some of its big name customers to further endorse the merger. Perhaps the best name in the bunch was electronics retailing giant Best Buy, who's CIO offered up a quote that nails Oracle's ambitions with Retek squarely on the head.

"Most Retek customers already run Oracle's financial and human resources applications, so Oracle buying Retek is a perfect fit for the retail industry," Bob Willet, the Best Buy executive, said in a statement.

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