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Oracle takes on SAP in transportation software market

Mark Brunelli, News Director

Oracle today unveiled Oracle Transportation Management 5.5 (OTM), the first major release of G-Log supply chain and logistics management software since Oracle acquired the growing firm last November.

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The latest version of OTM incorporates new functionality designed to manage the flow of in-house freight carriers in conjunction with third-party contract carriers. It also exposes several key functional components as Web services so that they can better fit into a service-oriented architecture (SOA), said Derek Gittoes, Oracle's director of transportation products.

Gittoes explained that OTM's new three-dimensional load modeling capabilities let users see graphical representations of trucks and other shipping containers so they can calculate the best ways to ship freight without wasting or coming up short on space.

"We provide a very graphically appealing three-dimensional view of the trailer," Gittoes said. "You can rotate it on any of its axes and manipulate the products that are inside."

OTM's new dock and yard management capabilities allow users to schedule, remove and recalculate shipping times so that trucks, boats and other vehicles do not have to wait when they arrive to load or unload freight.

Oracle says the software's new wireless carrier communications functionality lets carriers stay in touch with home base regardless of their remote location or on-board systems.

Oracle's purchase of King of Prussia, Penn.-based G-Log was just one of a slew of acquisitions Oracle has closed over the past few years. The acquisition spree has included high-profile players like CRM giants PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems, as well as smaller vendors like identity management firm Oblix and retail software maker Retek. More recently, Oracle announced plans to purchase Demantra, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of supply chain software with roots in Israel.

With G-Log and other supply chain acquisitions, Oracle is hoping to tap into the growing market for global transportation management software, according to Adrian Gonzalez, an analyst with the ARC Advisory Group. Gonzalez said his firm expects the market for transportation management software to reach $1.2 billion by 2009, up from about $950 million in 2005.

"Prior to the G-Log acquisition, although Oracle had organic [transportation management software] they weren't even in the top 10," Gonzalez said. "Relatively speaking, compared to the best of breed it was a very basic product."

G-Log represented a chance for Oracle to become one of the "best of breed" transportation management vendors specifically because of the software's strength when it came to helping companies with very complex logistical operations, Gonzalez explained. Some of the major logistics management software vendors include I2 Technologies Inc. and JDA Software Group Inc., which recently completed the purchase of transportation software maker Manugistics.

G-Log also gives Oracle the chance to take on rival SAP AG on the transportation front in the U.S. market. Generally speaking, SAP has been more successful with transportation management in Europe than in the U.S., he said.

"Transportation management is becoming a priority for SAP," Gonzalez said. "But to date they have gone the invest-internally route, so it's still going to take them a little time to close the gap in terms of functionality."

OTM is available as a standalone product or as part of Oracle E-Business Suite. Gittoes said the price for the software is about $14,000 per $1 million worth of freight shipped annually, or roughly 1.4%.


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