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Oracle carves niche in embedded software design

Posted: 12 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded systems design? embedded software solutions?

Over time, software becomes a more critical tool in embedded systems design, enabling manufacturers to differentiate their products and strengthen their competitive advantage in the market. Seeing the potential of the embedded industry, software providers are now fielding embedded software solutions to gain inroads in the market. Among these companies is Oracle Taiwan Inc.

The company established its embedded business unit under the Asia Pacific division in February 2005. Despite being a newcomer in the market, Oracle already has its eye on its target niche. "Our target customer is each of the terminal users," said Mark Barton, VP of Oracle's embedded business unit, Asia Pacific division, in an interview with EE Times-Taiwan at the ESC-Taiwan 2007 conference.

Backing up the 30-year old company on its goal is its experience in providing database and business software solutions. For embedded design, it offers a host of solutions including embedded databases and middleware. According to Barton, there are a lot of applications for embedded systems and accordingly got very close to terminal users. Thus, Oracle aims to help customers improve the added value of their products by providing software solutions, which accurately fit in with the terminal users' requirements.

Getting embedded
Applications for embedded systems include public services, digital home, military, security and entertainment solutions, in which the embedded systems may collect, process, store and even analyze, transmit/share huge amounts of data. For such tasks, the database offers a sound foundation for providing intelligent and efficient data management function, said Barton. Meanwhile, the middleware, which plays as a bridge between the database and the application software, assists the equipment in connecting to the database and sharing the data effectively.

With the combination of its embedded database series including the Oracle Database, Time Ten, Berkeley DB, Oracle Lite and its middleware solutions, Oracle has enabled customers to leverage the advantages of embedded systems in their applications ranging from security systems, digital automatic household control system and public RFID systems. In Taiwan, Oracle has designed security systems for financial applications with Syscom and has partnered with Unitech to develop rugged PDAs for used in the retail industry, medical area or official organizations.

Next moves
So, what is Oracle's next objective?

"Currently, Oracle's embedded business unit is focusing on several key application areas, including 3G, telecommunication, digital home and automobile," said Barton.

In the 3G area, Barton said that Oracle is targeting mobile broadband communication equipment including intelligent handsets and PDA. In the telecommunication area, Oracle is paying more attention on the cooperation with partner manufacturers for telecom infrastructure and networking operators such as Huawei, ZTE and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom. In the digital home area, Oracle's designs target intelligent control/remote-control systems of household appliances, identification systems for security, medical care and even domestic robot.

"We are dedicated to innovate with customers and expect the whole industry, including each level of the supply chain, to benefit from Oracle's solutions," noted Barton.

Reflecting on the Taiwan market, Barton said that the local electronic manufacturers have excellent abilities in hardware and their achievements are known worldwide. "But if they desire to convert 'Made in Taiwan' into 'Designed in Taiwan,' then the use of software is indispensable, he stressed.

Regardless of whether embedded systems manufacturers have their own software design teams, Oracle can cooperate with them. Through Oracle's experience in software and advanced technology, hardware manufacturers can save the cost and time for developing products and create diversification of products, Barton added.

Taiwan's Market Intelligence Center reported that region's embedded software market grows steadily and is estimated to hit $28.11 million this year, up from $24.78 million in 2006. Embedded middleware will have the biggest market potential, with annual growth rate of 26 percent, added the market research firm.

"It's a young industry, and we expect to help Taiwan hardware engineers to know more about the knowledge and technology relating to embedded software and make this world more colorful," Barton concluded.

- Judith Cheng
EE Times-Taiwan

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