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Ellison espouses commitment to Web

Oracle's chief reiterates the company's commitment to the Web and addresses customers' concerns surrounding the delays of its new suite of Internet business applications.

ORLANDO, Florida--Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison last night reiterated his company's commitment to the Web and addressed customers' concerns surrounding the delays of its new suite of Internet business applications.

Without an explanation or an apology, Ellison, who was originally scheduled to appear in person here, addressed about 8,000 attendees present at the Oracle Annual User Group conference via satellite.

Ellison reiterated his message that companies need to adopt a sense of urgency in order to quickly transform themselves into competitive e-business players.

Earlier this week, the software company said it will miss its ship date for Release 11i for roughly 6 months, explaining that it took the company a little longer than expected to get additional features completed.

"We [also] felt a lot of people aren't going to be implementing around the Y2K boundary, so we thought it made sense to delay [the suite] a little longer, " said Ellison.

"We made the best decision we knew how to make," he added.

Ellison claimed the delay was a sensible trade-off, made in order to give users the added capability and functions that will be better for them in the long run.

Pierre Mitchell, an industry analyst at Boston-based AMR Research, said, "[The delays] have nothing to do with Y2K."

Mitchell said the application suite Oracle has developed is very complex and is simply taking the software maker a little longer than anticipated to complete.

Still, analysts agree Oracle is currently ahead of other major business software vendors, such as SAP, Baan, and PeopleSoft, as far as offering a complete, integrated suite of both enterprise resource planning applications and customer relationship management applications.

"Oracle is well positioned to get a sizeable market share because of the integration and availability of customer relationship management and supply chain tools all in one system," said David Caruso, an analyst at AMR Research. "Although it's not deliverable yet, it's closer than any of their traditional competitors have gotten."

Ellison, who made it clear that Oracle has been making the transition to the Web for the past four years, said that while all other vendors have been talking about making the move, Oracle has already been acting on this shift for a long time.

"It's a big deal going from a client/server [model] to the Internet, but if a company misses this shift, they will disappear," he said. "We caught the wave early. We think we have a huge lead because of this. We think the company is not vulnerable because we got to the Net early."

He added that its competitors "are vulnerable [because they're late to the Net] and so are their customers."