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New Oracle brand to wrap up retail buys

Oracle Retail brand name, set for launch at user confab next week, will cover products picked up in acquisitions and existing software.

Oracle, which has spent much of the past year buying up rivals, will take further steps next week toward reorganizing its product lineup.

At its OpenWorld customer conference in San Francisco next week, the company plans to announce Oracle Retail, a new umbrella brand for existing software and for products obtained through recent acquisitions.

The Retail brand will be applied to Oracle's own retail-focused business applications, to software obtained through the acquisitions of Retek, ProfitLogic and PeopleSoft. It will also cover products from J.D. Edwards, which PeopleSoft bought several years ago.

The move is among the first by the company to unify the specialty retail software that it has recently accumulated. Oracle says that, all told, it serves more than 1,900 retail customers with retail optimization and planning software, as well as with its core database and enterprise resource-planning applications.

Oracle closed its $10.3 billion deal for PeopleSoft in January. In April, the company purchased retail software maker Retek for just less than $500 million. And, in early July, Oracle bought retail-pricing specialist ProfitLogic for an undisclosed sum.

Overall, since the PeopleSoft deal was finalized, Oracle has continued to invest in or acquire companies.

Last month, Oracle took a $650 million stake in Indian banking software maker I-flex Solutions.

The latest move came earlier this week, when Oracle said it plans to buy Siebel Systems, which makes customer relationship management software, in a deal worth $5.8 billion. The deal, subject to approval by Siebel shareholders and regulators, is expected to close next year.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison telegraphed the software maker's plans to acquire additional companies during court testimony last summer that was part of the PeopleSoft acquisition.

The company's goal is assemble a stable of business software products to take on market leader SAP. Meanwhile, Microsoft is consolidating some of its business software under a new Dynamics brand and is looking to become a more formidable competitor in the future.

The company has said it isn't targeting the top end of the business applications market, where Oracle and SAP compete.

Recent comments from Microsoft executives raise some questions about that strategy, however. In an interview with CNET on Tuesday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said Microsoft is "very serious about our CRM plans, including scaling that up to very demanding cases."

Gates also criticized Oracle's plan for growth through acquisition. "Larry (Ellison) forecast big consolidation, and he wanted to see that come true, so he's making it come true. It's a brilliant forecast. If the next three people under you don't write code but they do deals, what do you get? You get deals. They will probably do more deals than anybody, and we'll write more code than anybody," he said.