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Oracle’s ECM Vertical Acquisitions

Oracle announce the acquisition of Skywire last week and it highlights the difference between the growth and acquisition strategies of the different players. For those unfamiliar with it, Skywire boasts of having 1450 insurance customers. Clearly a CEVA acquisition. The pattern is not exclusive but this acquisition is not unlike Peoplesoft, Siebel or other major function acquisitions where they acquired strong players in a vertical built on their technology. Contrast this with EMC acquistions over the last twelve months in the CM space. Document Sciences and X-Hive are both clearly platform buys. So why does Oracle go after vertical applications instead of platforms? They do it because they can.

It’s hard to find a decent enterprise business application written in the last ten years that doesn’t run on something owned by Oracle. The same cannot be said for EMC/Documentum and vertical content oriented enterprise applications. The list is extremely sparse. To be fair – either by default or design, none of the major ECM players have done a good job at making their applications the backbone of major COTS offerings.

The balance of EMC’s catalog is heavily weighted to commodity storage. There is little practical difference between an application running on EMC versus IBM storage. So, they either invest heavily themselves or continue rounding out the application platform and encourage CEVA developments from ISV’s. The risk shifts to the ISV when they commit to a CMS. For Oracle’s acquisitions, they may not have been built on UCM but there is nevertheless an affinity with other products in the catalog.

HP’s Tower acquisition is an indicator that it is in a similar position as EMC but they don’t have the baggage associated with a major ECM product so they started with records management. Oracle’s position is not unique though. There is one other player with similar cross-over potential from business apps to true CEVA offerings. Microsoft.

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