Oracle ups its management quotient

* Oracle announces plans to acquire application configuration management vendor mValent

Oracle delivered in part on management industry watchers' predictions last week when it announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire mValent, a niche player in the application configuration management market.

The pending deal would bring to Oracle mValent's Integrity platform, which would enable the former to offer customers the ability to collect, compare and reconcile configuration information. Oracle will integrate mValent technology into its Enterprise Manager product, which will enable the company to enhance root-cause analysis capabilities and automate remediation of problems kicked off by a configuration change, Oracle says.

Analysts say the buy and ultimate technology delivered bode well for Oracle's efforts to be a bigger player in the management -- specifically application performance -- market.

"It means that Oracle is getting more serious about application management -- as they should after buying so many application platforms, even if they mush all of them together with Fusion, customers are still going to have to manage the end-to-end performance of the process or transaction," says Jasmine Noel, founder and principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates.

She explains that previous acquisitions by Oracle have indicated the company's plans for application management. For instance, the company's September 2008 acquisition of ClearApp helped them offer customers modeling and monitoring capabilities.

"Oracle bought ClearApp so it could model and monitor composite application infrastructure relationships and end-to-end transactions -- so customers can understand end-to-end performance and do triage," Noel says. "With mValent they get configuration and change management so that you can automate the action that comes after triage -- usually changing the configuration. But also prevent configuration errors from causing problems because mValent can manage the configuration of any software stack from QA through staging into production."

And while Oracle could spin the buy around its plans to better manage its own application performance, Noel says don't be fooled. The acquisition, albeit on the smaller side, will bring Oracle into accounts that predominantly deal with the big four management vendors -- BMC, CA, HP and IBM -- for management technologies. Oracle might not have a choice but to up its management technology game.

"It is going to get harder [for Oracle] to stay out of that game when only the largest IT shops are willing to have application managers that are so specialized. Every management vendor is going to want to be managing Oracle applications s as well," she says.

Oracle expects the deal to close in the first half of 2009, and until then, the two companies will remain separate.

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