Oracle joins the enterprise crowd on the iPhone.
UPDATED: In a move that will heat up the market for mobile access to enterprise applications, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) have announced that some of their business applications will run on the Apple iPhone.
Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) Plus and Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, Fusion Edition, can both be downloaded for free at the Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) App Store from today, on the iPhone and iPod Touch. They are also available at http://www.itunes.com/appstore/.
Their debut makes the iPhone a serious business tool, positioning it more strongly against the RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry, on which Oracle archrival SAP (NYSE: SAP) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) have already unveiled native business applications.
"The iPhone has very good support for Web services, for which we have strong support across all our applications, in particular Oracle Business Applications for the Web, so we've been able to deliver SOA-based business applications for the iPhone," Oracle group vice president for business application development Lenley Hansarling told InternetNews.com.
Also, Oracle feels the iPhone is increasingly being adopted, "particularly within sales forces in companies and within the executive ranks," which opens a new avenue for business, Hansarling said.
The Oracle applications provide access to key metrics and analytical data, and run natively on the iPhone. They support SSL (define) encryption for security, always a concern when enterprise data is transmitted, especially over wireless connections, which are not considered especially secure.
The applications leverage the service oriented architecture (SOA) (define) capabilities of OBIEE and of Oracle Business Intelligence Web Services. They let users view and interact with financial, human resources, supply chain and customer relationship management analytics.
Enterprises have access control -- OBIEE administrators can restrict access to metrics based on a user's roles and responsibilities in the enterprise. Users can also configure the applications, selecting indicators and metrics relevant to their roles, and setting browsing preferences.
Meanwhile, Salesforce.com users can access the company's CRM applications and any custom or third-party application built natively on the Force.com Platform-as-a-Service through the Salesforce Mobile application on the iPhone.
Salesforce Mobile for iPhone integrates with the iPhone's native functions such as e-mail, maps and phone capabilities. Users can navigate through key customer records, initiate phone calls and e-mails from within Salesforce CRM, and query this application for customer information, which will be sent to their iPhones.
Oracle and Salesforce.com going to the iPhone may cause problems for enterprise users of the Blackberry. SAP natively integrated its CRM application into the BlackBerry in May, followed a week later by IBM, which put Lotus communication and collaboration tools on the device.
Other applications are also available on the BlackBerry. For example, back in 2004, application service provider eAgency, which caters to independent insurance agents, put insurance applications, including CRM, claims status information and insurance form services, on the Blackberry, in a joint effort with Sun Microsystems and RIM.
One of two things could happen as a result of Oracle's porting applications to the Blackberry: Enterprises could spring for yet another mobile device; or they could insist that all mobile applications work on one common platform.
The latter is more likely, IDC analyst Ryan Reith told InternetNews.com. "The IT team calls the shots," he said. "It doesn't matter how high up in the organization you are, the IT team is still in control, and I don't see why they would change over to the iPhone when they're already working with the BlackBerry."
IT will also be reluctant to plug in the iPhone because it won't fit readily into overall enterprise IT security policies, Reith said. "When business users bring it in to replace their BlackBerries, they'll get a shock," he added.
The iPhone's emergence as a business tool should not surprise observers. In March, Apple announced the release of a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone that let developers create applications for that hand-held device. At that time, Salesforce.com representatives unveiled a demo version of an application built for the iPhone.