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Oracle Business OnLine leader exits

The head of Oracle Business OnLine leaves the company at a critical time for the fledgling division, which company executives say could draw half the firm's revenues within five years.

The head of Oracle Business OnLine has left the company at a critical time for the fledgling division, which company executives say could draw half the firm's revenues within five years.

Oracle Business OnLine president Chris Russell left Oracle about a week ago, a company spokeswoman said today. Russell's replacement will be named later this week, she said.

Oracle launched the business applications hosting service earlier this year. Oracle Business Online provides hosted applications to handle most business needs, including accounting, manufacturing, and procurement. Customers pay a monthly fee--depending on the application and the number of users--to use applications through the Web. The cost ranges between $300 to $800 per month, per user.

Mark Jarvis, Oracle's senior vice president of marketing, said the company now has 30 Business OnLine customers, with 2,000 users accessing software through the service.

"The market is still very young," Jarvis said in a recent interview. "My guess is it will be half of Oracle's revenues within five years. It's the future of the entire software industry."

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said his goal is to get 10,000 users by the end of this year. The goal for next year is 100,000. Oracle first piloted Business OnLine in November 1998.

In June, the company announced a deal with Qwest Communications, which agreed to add Oracle's Business OnLine service to its offerings to corporate customers over its high-speed network. The service offered is a package of business software, such as database, accounts payable, or human resource applications, that companies can access through a Web browser. Qwest will manage the software through its data centers, called CyberCenters, located throughout the United States.

The market for application hosting and rentals is expected to grow rapidly. International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the applications service provider (ASP) market--which includes hosting of e-commerce, email, and other business applications--will grow to $2 billion by 2003, representing a 91 percent annual growth rate.

Oracle rivals SAP, Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft, Baan, and J.D. Edwards are all making moves to set up strategies within the ASP market.