Oracle Has a Lot
of Work to Do"> Judith Hurwitz, of Hurwitz & Associates, says Oracles got the portal thing right. She told me as well that SAP, Oracle competitor par excellence, has a lot of work to do with master data management.As it now stands, customers have 10, 15, 20 SAP instancesespecially those using the older R3 versions."You try to manage data across 10 instances of SAPits really hard," she said. SAP is trying to get customers to MySAP as a core, running modules on top, so they have one instance working with different applications. One key problem: People get bogged down in day-to-day management. Take one SAP customer whos a Hurwitz & Associates client, from the Venezuelan oil industry. The company used to have 250 people working on its SAP team. Thanks to cutbacks and consolidations, thats down to 50. "Theyre just trying to keep their heads above water," Hurwitz told me. "Its hard to say, OK, Ill move from my old implementation and embrace this new world." Thats not just an SAP problem, of course. Oracles brave new Fusion Middleware world is facing the same issues. Resources are tight and major moves unlikely, particularly given that youre realistically looking at something like a 10-year journey to get to the SOA promised land. If everyone had a blank slate, it would be one thing. But everybody has existing systems and customers, and nobodys IT organization is getting any bigger, Hurwitz noted. And as it is, people dont even know what this SOA stuff is. Hurwitz & Associates did a study last year, of companies that werent small, in which people said "Yeah, were going to services. Were moving to client/server." They dont understand this stuff, and theres no vendor doing a good job of telling them what this service stuff is. Because really, you cant just leave data where it is and slap SOA on it like a coat of paint. You cant just go in and put XML wrappers around code or add service interfaces. All that needs to be done, but you cant start there. If you do, you might as well just give up. What really needs to be done is analyze the hell out of your business. You have to disassemble it into every moving part. You must know what all the component pieces are that make up your business. If you dont do that, Hurwitz said, youre running in place. So were right back to where we were when Oracle wanted everybody to move to one common data model, but nobody wanted to go through the system and business upheaval. Thats why SAP has a better message, actually, in this case. Their message is that you have to start with asking yourself what are your business components, and what steps do you have to take to get to SOA. So. Its déjà vu all over again, but at least Oracle has acknowledged there are other systems in the world, and they arent going anywhere anytime soon. Lisa Vaas is Ziff Davis Internets news editor in charge of operations. She is also the editor of eWEEK.coms Database and Business Intelligence topic center. She has been with eWEEK and eWEEK.com since 1995, most recently covering enterprise applications; database technology; and RSS, syndication and blogging technologies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.