Software giant Oracle Corp is making a big bet on Web-based computer programs, a fast-growing segment of the tech sector that it has been slow to enter.
Senior company executives said on Thursday that the world's No. 2 maker of business software will release a suite of 43 Web-based software modules to help corporations manage tasks from accounting and human resources to sales and procurement.
That will give Oracle the broadest selection of so-called cloud-based business management applications for large corporations of any major technology company. Rivals such as Salesforce.com Inc and SAP AG currently offer a limited selection of such products focused on software for managing sales activities.
Senior Vice President Anthony Lye said in an interview that the products will be released next year as part of Oracle's highly anticipated new line of Fusion Apps software.
Customers will have the option of buying programs to run in their own data centers or purchasing Web-hosted services from Oracle, he said. He spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of an investor conference in San Francisco.
Oracle is embracing cloud-based software as researchers forecast brisk sales growth for the sector, even as the overall tech market slumps. Such products are also known as Software as a Service, or SaaS.
Gartner Research expects that 2009 SaaS sales to surge 22 percent to a record $8 billion. The firm expects the market to grow at average annual rates of 19 percent through 2013, far above the 5 percent growth for the overall business management software market.
Fusion Apps is one of the most closely watched in Oracle's 32-year history. Chief Executive Larry Ellison has staked his reputation on the success of the product, investing five years and billions of dollars on its development.
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)