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Oracle selects Solaris X86

InterOffice Suite will sport centralized administration

By Barry D. Bowen

January  1996
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In mid-December, SunSoft and Oracle announced a ground-breaking OEM relationship: Oracle Corp. (Redwood Shores, CA) will license and bundle SunSoft's Solaris 2.5 for Intel with Oracle's new InterOffice Suite -- a business server for branch office automation, application deployment, and remote management. This is the first time Oracle has licensed an operating system with the intention of integrating and redistributing it as an integral part of one of its products.

Oracle is targeting InterOffice at Fortune 1000 companies in the retail, banking, health care, finance, and insurance industries that need to deploy large-scale applications across hundreds of distributed sites. Typically, such companies do not plan on having trained MIS personnel in each location, so they need a solution that is easy to use, works well with other systems, and can be managed from a central site.

The strategy is bold, but not without precedent. Although Unix operating system and database vendors have generally made great strides over the last few years to improve the ease with which their products can be installed, configured, and managed, it is not a task lightly handed to the average office worker. By bundling in the operating system with Oracle InterOffice Suite, centralized IT services will have one software package they can configure and deliver to branch offices -- just add an Intel-compatible PC.

This stretches the continuum of the "no-configuration deployment" strategy seen with Sun's Netra Internet sever, Microsoft's Windows NT/BackOffice bundle, or Compaq's Smart Start program for resellers, according to Mary Anderson, SunSoft's director of marketing.

"Enterprises with 50-plus branch offices have to minimize the care and feeding of the network," Anderson said. That means reducing the need for on-site installation, configuration, and management, she added.

Edward Jones, a nationwide financial services firm that sells stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to small investors, already uses Solaris and the Oracle 7 DBMS throughout its operation. Rich Malone, the firm's CIO, believes the InterOffice Suite will deliver significant benefits if everything works as advertised.

"Oracle InterOffice Suite puts a lot of the work under one umbrella and greatly simplifies remote administration," Malone said. "We'll have fewer vendors, fewer contracts, and fewer products to deal with."


Edward Jones currently has 3,200 remote offices, many staffed with only two people. With InterOffice, the firm's central IT staff will be able to deliver custom Oracle 7-based DBMS applications, word processing, video and graphic applications, as well as Internet connectivity. Once plugged in, turned on, and successfully booted, centralized support personnel will have integrated access to each of the remote offices to handle all the routine system and database administration functions.

Selecting Solaris for Intel as InterOffice Suite's operating system was a fairly natural step for Oracle. Solaris is an important development platform, said Ray Lane, president of Worldwide Operations for Oracle, and it runs on everything from lap tops to departmental and enterprise servers.

In addition to the OS and Oracle 7 database, InterOffice Suite includes messaging, workflow, and document management capabilities. InterOffice client software is Web and Windows 95-enabled, and includes Oracle's PowerBrowser, which supports Java applets.

The optional Management Pack, provides central administration and software asset management for all of the essential software located on remote clients and servers, as well as hardware. A single drag-and-drop console enables remote administrators to control the operating system, the database and tools, the network software, and the file and print software.

The comprehensive nature of Oracle InterOffice, and the addition of Internet capabilities, make this an innovative offering that firms with large numbers of remote offices will want to consider. --Barry D. Bowen

Barry D. Bowen ( is a business computing analyst and writer with the Bowen Group Inc.

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