Oracle has addressed a major gap in its application portfolio with its announcement Tuesday to buy Product Lifecycle Management vendor Agile (a deal Forrester predicted way back in 2000). Relative to Oracle’s other notable acquisitions like PeopleSoft and Siebel, the Agile buy looks to be less about acquiring customers and more about countering archrival SAP who has been steadily advancing its own PLM offering in recent years. The Agile acquisition puts Oracle back in the PLM game with a proven cPDM offering particularly for high-tech & other discrete industries operating in fast development clockspeeds and heavily-outsourced manufacturing models. And Agile’s collaborative visualization offering (through its prior acquisition of Cimmetry) will further position Oracle against the CAD-heritage players like PTC and Siemens (UGS) in select industries.

Oracle customers will benefit the most from the deal, but Agile customers can also breathe easier knowing that their PLM solution will be supported and extended by Oracle resources going forward. Approximately 40% of Agile’s customers are currently on Oracle’s ERP platform and will look to the value of an integrated PLM/ERP/SCM offering; the remainder of non-Oracle customers, (i.e. SAP customers, Infor customers, and users of other ERP platforms), don’t stand to gain much from the acquisition.

The transaction is expected to close this July, and subsequent technology integration (though always a complex process) will be facilitated by Agile’s heritage as an Oracle shop. Customers in process-based industries like Life Sciences and CPG will have to wait longer as the two companies work to weave legacy .NET architecture from Agile’s purchase of Prodika into Oracle technology.

Roy Wildeman | Senior Analyst

Forrester Research