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Commentary: Oracle must help clean house

The company keeps making incremental improvements to its Oracle 11i application suite. The latest version will please current customers, but probably won't influence many new ones.

By Brian Zrimsek, Gartner Analyst

Oracle keeps making incremental improvements to its Oracle 11i application suite. The latest version will please current customers but probably won't influence many new ones.

2001 was a bad year for Oracle's customer relations. Earlier in the year, the company seemed to sever ties with the Oracle Application User Group over ceasing support of Oracle 10.7. By year's end, the company had extended support for 10.7 and re-established its relationship with the user group. Oracle also had problems in 2001 with 11i product quality, which is starting to stabilize.

See news story:
Analysts shrug at Oracle's new software
Customer focus is key for Oracle as it seeks to make 11i the centerpiece of its application offering. To achieve this, Oracle must move a significant majority of the installed base to that platform. Enhancements to data access and availability outside the enterprise are important additions for existing customers but not differentiators for new customers.

Gartner predicts that companies will use 2002 to get their own houses in order. They need to clean up their enterprise applications in preparation for implementing challenging collaborative commerce technologies and processes later on. These enhancements from Oracle will help companies on this front.

In a poor economic climate, companies are likely deterred from full-scale upgrades by the cost, the time required and the need for support. Oracle must focus in these areas to boost 11i's uptake by providing high-quality migration tools and low-risk migration projects.

Within this context, the new 11i functions, such as improved access to sales and inventory data, and being able to share it with business partners, won't change the landscape much. They offer existing Oracle customers good value, but they aren't particularly compelling or state-of-the-art--other software vendors offer them.

Therefore, Gartner does not believe that the latest version of 11i will attract many more new customers to Oracle. It will, however, serve as an improved application platform for current customers. Oracle and 11i are headed in the right direction, but they're not moving at breakneck speed.

(For a related commentary on extended support for Oracle 10.7, see

Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.