This article is in continuum to the last 2 of my articles on Oracle Fusion . I am quiet happy & surprised by the responses and Queries I received for my last two articles on Oracle Fusion from different parts of the world enquiring more about the future strategies and directions. This article would provide some more insight about Oracle Fusion and answers to the queries asked by our good friends.At Oracle Open World 2010, Oracle announced the upcoming availability of its Fusion Applications across ERP, CRM and supply chain management, as well as continued support for its entire application portfolio. Its our time to determine how to absorb new capabilities and upgrade older applications and infrastructure.
Some Key Findings/Recap
• Six years into its acquisition strategy for business applications, Oracle has maintained the user base of its Applications Unlimited product lines (Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft, Oracle JD Edwards, Oracle Siebel and Oracle Value Chain Planning & Execution); continued to sell existing products; continued to provide enhancements to products (to varying degrees); and maintained leadership with some of its products.
• Oracle customers remain comfortable with the Applications Unlimited strategy and don't feel pressured to migrate.
• Those Oracle Fusion Applications modules that can be stand-alone or targeted at augmenting existing business application suites contain significant new functionality and some best-in-class technology, but they are not market-proven.
• Oracle Fusion Applications may be positioned as a new suite of applications in the future, which may be more of a reimplementation than an upgrade for most users of Oracle Applications. However, users will not have to deal with this reimplementation consideration until they begin replacing system-of-record applications.
• Consider upgrading Oracle Applications Unlimited products for business value or support window concerns; however, few ERP suite users are finding the business justification they need for this upgrade. Some pockets of users, such as those with Supply Chain Management (SCM) and PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM), are finding more value here.
• Evaluate opportunities to enhance business application technologies, such as middleware and business intelligence (BI).
• Consider augmentation strategies for Oracle Applications, but don't limit your thinking to Oracle Fusion Applications.
• For augmentation strategies, anticipate assuming the costs and responsibilities of cross-product integration.
Almost six years after beginning a major application acquisition spree, Oracle has moved from a modest applications vendor to the second-largest enterprise applications vendor in the world. Through this, Oracle has managed the remarkable balancing act of maintaining its installed base, providing ongoing support and enhancement (although of varying quality) across products and even advancing product leadership in some areas of its vast portfolio of application, while developing a next-generation set of applications — Oracle Fusion Applications. In some cases, such as JD Edwards, Oracle has even managed to improve perceived levels of support among customers.
Oracle delivered credible road maps for each Oracle Applications Unlimited product at Oracle OpenWorld; however, the time frames on these road maps continue to be relatively short (although they are longer than have been presented in the past, now going 24 months out). Users should press for longer and more-substantiated road maps before making longer-term commitments to Applications Unlimited products.These achievements present Oracle with a new challenge: bringing an entirely new set of products to market and potentially converting customers to this new product line.
I have provided an overall analysis of Oracle Fusion Applications in prior article. Oracle made its long-anticipated general availability announcement for Oracle Fusion Applications (see Figure 1). It went to great lengths to position the new product line as complementary to existing Oracle Applications Unlimited products. In the keynote speeches and the Oracle Fusion Applications sessions, Oracle executives introduced a set of "coexistence scenarios," which explain how the "augmentation" approach to Oracle Fusion Applications can work and to guide customers on how they might deploy Oracle Fusion Applications alongside existing Oracle products or even applications from other vendors.
The first scenario is an Oracle Applications Unlimited customer that chooses not to use Oracle Fusion Applications at all. Oracle acknowledged that, in the near term, this was the most likely choice for most customers, and they used this point to reassure customers that they would not be forced to adopt Oracle Fusion Applications. The next three scenarios were variations on the idea of deploying Oracle Fusion Application modules alongside current Oracle Applications Unlimited products. The differences between the scenarios were the levels of interoperability, which ranged from a complete stand-alone deployment to loosely coupled to tightly integrated. Oracle would like its Oracle Application Unlimited customers to consider Oracle Fusion Applications modules as potential add-on or best-of-breed products. We will explore each scenario in more depth in future
Oracle is in no hurry to ramp up Oracle Fusion Applications sales. Having been affected by quality problems in new architectures in the past (Oracle E-Business Suite 11i and, to a lesser extent, 12.0), the company is setting expectations carefully until the application proves itself in the field. The augmentation strategy gets new Oracle Fusion Applications functionality and the architecture into the field with less risk to customers' business. The company is managing ramp-up customers carefully and focusing on ensuring that any proposed pilot will be well-controlled and successful. Don't expect the sales machine to be turned on until at least 2012.
Fusion Future Ahead
To set up a transition to Oracle Fusion Applications, while balancing focus on existing products, Oracle delivered three key messages to its applications customers and prospects at Oracle Open World 2010.
• Upgrade to the Latest Versions of Oracle Applications Unlimited Products
This is sensible advice in many situations (particularly with point solutions). However, many users are struggling with the business case for an upgrade of full-suite products, due to the lack of sufficient enhancements across the full-suite products to give business justification to the upgrades. We view Oracle's statements about proportion of customer base that has upgraded, especially for EBS, as overstated. Some point solution users, such as EBS Financials, PeopleSoft HCM and SCM users, are finding business value. We see an increasing number of users and system integrators and seeing an uptrend in upgrade activity, but this is being driven primarily by support window concerns.
Although Oracle states that this will facilitate a transition to Oracle Fusion Applications We are not sure how this upgrade would significantly and tangibly facilitate an upgrade. Oracle Fusion Applications Financials shares a number of conceptual design elements with EBS R12, and we now see the transition from EBS R12 Financials to Oracle Fusion Applications Financials as being more of an upgrade than a reimplementation. We need to evaluate the upgrade versus replacement effort for other pairs of Oracle Applications Unlimited modules with Oracle Fusion Applications modules.
Given the difficulty in finding business value in this upgrade, a significant question users asked at Oracle OpenWorld is whether they can skip this upgrade, wait for Oracle Fusion Applications to become commercially viable and make a single move at that point — saving the costs of an interim upgrade. However, we believe through 2013, Oracle Fusion Applications will not be a viable replacement for most Applications Unlimited users. The current timeframes on support windows create unacceptable gaps for this strategy to work for many users, depending on module, version, and support level. Additionally, given that Oracle did not announce any support window extensions; we see risk in pursuing a strategy that is predicated on skipping this upgrade due to the complications of securing upgrade resources at the end of a support window and trying to rush such an upgrade.
Due to customer pressure, Oracle might extend support windows in the future; however, if these applications are strategic to your business, you should not be planning based on an assumption of support window extensions. (In some cases, product support windows may more easily coincide with Oracle Fusion Applications commercial readiness, which would enable users to skip the interim upgrade, so users should evaluate on a module-by-module basis.)
Upgrade Application Technologies (e.g., Infrastructure, BI and Middleware)
Several infrastructure components, such as Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), Oracle Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Suite and Oracle Enterprise Manager, can provide additional value through IT cost savings, or enhancements to enterprise value, without significant disruption of business processes. Users should explore these options, as these infrastructure moves can provide immediate value and legitimately prepare IT shops with some of the skills they will need under Oracle Fusion Applications.
Extend the Value of Your Portfolio With Augmentation Applications
In addition to augmentation through Oracle Fusion Applications, Oracle has several products across its portfolio that can add incremental value to your applications landscape with less disruption to existing applications or processes than, for example, upgrading or replacing an ERP. This is because a number of the horizontal, as well as the industry-specific applications in Oracle's portfolio, are actually point solutions (sometimes called best-of-breed), so they have fewer dependencies and entailments that make their implementation and use simpler than components of a large enterprise suite would be. Users should explore these options, such as Demantra or Agile. In addition (as noted below), users should expect costs and responsibilities associated with cross-application integration and should be careful to look for partners with experience using these tools.
Some augmentation products and modules, such as Demantra, spare parts planning and Talent Reviews in HCM, can be used across Oracle Applications Unlimited and Oracle Fusion Applications product lines. Although there may be some changes in interface components, this type of leveraged deployment may help ease the transition to Oracle Fusion Applications, as different parts of the applications portfolio can move at different speeds with this strategy.
Oracle customers that were shown as early adopters of Oracle Fusion Applications were using Oracle Fusion Applications in a coexistence strategy, not as a full-suite replacement for systems of record. These customers reported working closely with Oracle, which is providing high levels of support and co-development for these projects. Nonetheless, we still see these as early stage products, and early-release Oracle Fusion Applications customers are not yet live on beta instances. We don't expect customers to begin go-live experiences with augmentation Oracle Fusion Applications components on production instances until 1Q11. System-of-record, full-suite replacements will come after that.
AIA Is a Valuable Integration Accelerator, but Evaluate Each Integration Point
Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA): Have the PIPs Gone Pop?" Oracle is building packaged integrations, but they're not 100% complete — 60% is Oracle's design goal. This means companies need to carefully consider their alternatives for integrating their application landscapes. AIA has significant value, but customers need to understand that they will need to build up their integration skills and will "own" the maintenance of the integration going forward.
Oracle Fusion Middleware 10g lacked tools to manage code and configurations adequately; 11g provides more robust code and configuration capabilities from the BEA Systems acquisition, but has not been used by any of the references. AIA 2.5 is the most common release, and it is viewed as far superior to previous versions, also because it offers a standardized "user exit" capability to make it easier for customer-developed extensions to survive the upgrade.
Some companies that started an AIA project believed that they would receive out-of-the-box integration, but found that this was not true. However, the AIA foundation pack that provides the canonical business objects and architectural framework for building integration can save a great deal of effort.
Hope you find this Oracle Fusion series useful and Good Luck for your New Initiatives in the New Year 2011