Oracle Corp. wilL ACQUIRE MetaSolv Software Inc. for US$219.2 million – a move industry experts said could complicate the company’s ongoing integration issues but should ultimately help flesh out its product portfolio.

Founded in 1992, MetaSolv is a provider of service fulfillment operations support system (OSS) solutions for the telecommunications and media industry. The company’s software is used to automate aspects of ordering management for wireline, wireless and VoIP carriers.

MetaSolv is “a good company for Oracle to buy from a product standpoint,” said Shira Levine, senior analyst of OSS and billing at IDC Inc. But integration is going to be a problem.

MetaSolv is the result of several acquisitions itself and “anytime you starting compounding acquisitions, it becomes more difficult to do that integration,” said Levine.

Oracle has been one of the more acquisitive software vendors in recent years, starting with its landmark purchase of rival PeopleSoft in 2004, then Retek and Siebel Systems in 2005.

Earlier this year, Oracle purchased Portal Software, which makes billing and revenue management software, also for the telecommunications and media industry, for US$220 million.

Lingua franca

Integration was one of the key messages Oracle executives wished to impart at the company’s annual Oracle OpenWorld conference held last month in San Francisco.

During a keynote, Oracle’s president Charles Phillips spoke at length about the company’s exhaustive efforts to make the software it has acquired in recent years mesh.

Its Fusion middleware is designed to be a lingua franca that would enable these various applications to work together, Phillips said.

“We’re in a position to solve what I think is historically one of the biggest problems in the enterprise software industry. That is the complexity, the cost and generally pretty poor experience of owning enterprise software,” said Phillips.

“It’s been said that it’s harder to get these applications to co-operate than it is to get the UN to co-operate. We know it’s a big opportunity if we can solve this.”

For the next year or two, MetaSolv shouldn’t really affect existing Oracle application users, said Craig Read, director of the Toronto Oracle Users Group. “But after that . . . they’ll integrate MetaSolv’s communication software into the Oracle architecture and start to roll that into existing clients.”

Oracle will benefit from MetaSolv’s customer base, said Read, but will also get its hands on some much-needed wireless expertise.

“MetaSolv is involved in Wi-Fi and WiMAX and some of those wireless technologies, and to be honest with you, Oracle has always been weak in that area,” he said.

“Oracle is a great enterprise architecture, but what happens when you get outside the office? They could roll out many products – like, PDA-enabled and BlackBerry-enabled – to tie into the Oracle architecture.”

But because wireless is practically a brand new area for Oracle, the company will have to be extra diligent about integration efforts, said Levine. Oracle took the correct approach with its purchase of Portal Software by retaining key management personnel like founder and CEO Dave Labuda, and should follow suit with MetaSolv, she said.

A spokesperson from MetaSolv did not return requests for comment at press time.

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