In a bid to increase its share of the ERP (enterprise resource planning) market, Oracle Corp has begun to pilot a new service under which it will remotely host and manage a company’s enterprise applications for a monthly fee. So confident is the database giant for customers’ demands to outsource their ERP applications that it expects the new service, Oracle Business OnLine, to account for half of the company’s applications business in five years time. Dan Haig, VP of Oracle’s business online di vision, admitted the primary reason for the service was to close the gap, in market share, between itself and the number one ERP vendor, SAP AG. But he also said Oracle was answering the calls of customers who, up until now, haven’t had the IT resources or the available cash, to invest in ERP applications. He said Oracle was getting together with Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, among other partners, to set up and maintain data centers, which Oracle will use to house its ERP applications. Initially just its financials, manufacturing, distribution and human resources apps will be on offer, but Haig added that the company intended to roll out its entire ERP portfolio by next year. Oracle will also offer third party software, which integrates with its applications, as part of the service, Haig said. Business OnLine is currently being trailed under a pilot program by a number of different customers and depending on the feedback, it will be rolled out across in the US in early 1999. Europe and Asia-Pacific will follow close behind. Access will be provided via dial-up links, virtual private networks and dedicated lines and customers will rent the software for a set monthly charge according to the number of users using the system. Haig added that Oracle also plans to allow other partners, for example AT&T and GTE, to use its applications to offer similar hosting services.