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Oracle bolsters integration tools

The company plans to debut tools designed to gather better information from a company's operations, part of its effort to focus more on integration software.

Oracle this summer plans to introduce tools designed to gather better information from a company's operations, as part of its initiative to bring in more revenue from integration software.

The company is preparing an update to its 10g Application Server transaction system and the Oracle E-Business packaged application suite with a feature called "business activity monitoring," Oracle Senior Vice President Thomas Kurian said Thursday. Business activity monitoring, or BAM, describes tools that collect data out of company systems and feed the information into an application for viewing business activities.

Oracle intends to couple the monitoring tools with its existing business intelligence products. This will allow companies to track ongoing operations, such as the progress of order fulfillment, and analyze relevant historical information, such as a supplier's record on meeting inventory demands, Kurian said.

The introduction of the new data-gathering software is part of Oracle's strategy to bring in more revenue from the business of stitching together incompatible software.

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Oracle in January introduced Customer Data Hub, integration software sold as a stand-alone product that uses XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based protocols called Web services to centralize information about customers. The company earlier this year introduced an update to its suite of server-based transactional software, called Oracle 10g Application Server.

Making disparate systems share information cost-effectively is a perennial problem for companies and represents billions of dollars in technology spending. Kurian said many companies have already automated several individual business processes, such as manufacturing or human resources, by investing in packaged applications or writing custom applications. Now, companies are looking to automate "cross-functional business processes" that span a number of computer systems, he said.

To help its customers automate more complex business processes, Oracle earlier this year released process modeling tools and work flow automation software based on the Web Services protocol called Business Process Execution Language (BPEL). Kurian said Oracle customers are seeking standards-based integration as an alternative to products from integration specialists such as Tibco Software, WebMethods and SeeBeyond Technology.

Oracle's push into process-driven integration software mirrors the efforts of its competitors, such as IBM, BEA Systems and Microsoft, which are readying server-based applications that use the BPEL-based work flow software. Several other smaller companies, such as Sonic Software and Software AG, have XML and Java-based software aimed at reducing the cost of integration.