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Oracle Opens Up to WebSphere

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This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Oracle and IBM.

The middleware and database competitors make peace.

Maybe not a beautiful friendship, but the two arch rivals announced an agreement at Oracle OpenWorld today in San Francisco to make key parts of their software architectures work together.

Company co-president Charles Phillips said Oracle will work with IBM  to certify WebSphere as a native platform for the next generation of Oracle applications.

It appears the two companies worked hard to get the deal confirmed in time for the Oracle event.

“We’ve been working with IBM the last couple of weeks on this and with applications in the future. Oracle views the IBM-Oracle project as one of the most important customer-focused projects under way at our company,” Phillips said in a statement before the conference.

Both IBM and Oracle compete in the middleware space. According to market research firm IDC, IBM is the middleware leader with 37 percent market share. But Oracle is coming on fast.

“Cooperating with Oracle on Project Fusion is good for customers and a strong recognition of WebSphere’s market presence,” said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of WebSphere at IBM Software Group in a statement. “We’ve worked together on J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and other similar projects, so we welcome Oracle’s Fusion applications on WebSphere.”

Phillips said Oracle’s middleware effort has grown from essentially nothing four years ago to an $800 million business.

“IBM has had a long partnership with Siebel, JD Edwards and Peoplesoft, so from a partner perspective, this is a good move by both sides,” IDC analyst Steve Graham told “This agreement reflects the reality of what customers expect for their investment, support and openness. Oracle really needed to do this for Websphere, but it opens up tremendous opportunities for both companies.”

Oracle has been pushing to fuse the functionality of all its applications into a single, standards-based application suite as part of its Project Fusion middleware effort.

The database giant also wants to bring other companies’ software applications into the Fusion fold, even if it means giving customers easier access to competitors’ software. “We’re willing to compete on the merits,” said Phillips.

Further impetus for the decision to open up to WebSphere came from many of the customers Oracle gained through its acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel and Retek.

Oracle realizes it can’t abandon its customer base — even if it means promoting solutions that only run on IBM software, such as WebSphere or DB2, Big Blue said in a statement.

IBM and Oracle said they expect to enable existing Oracle applications (Oracle J.D. Edwards, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle E-Business Suite) to support WebSphere and Tivoli in the areas of identity management, single sign-on and directories.

At the conference, Oracle will further detail its Oracle Application Server 10g release 3, which is due for completion before next May.

Release 3 of the popular run-time software will help programmers add services to business processes, keep them secure and manage them in computer systems with gear from different vendors.

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