Oracle Corp. plans to couple business intelligence and adaptive business process capabilities to applications in the next generation of its product suites. John Wookey, Oracles senior vice president of application development, detailed the companys philosophy on application development at Oracles Application User Group conference in Grapevine, Texas.
The philosophy will be implemented starting with E-Business 12, Enterprise 9 and EnterpriseOne 8.12, and come to fruition in Fusion, Oracles next-generation application suite and underlying technology stack.
The key, said Wookey, is adding business intelligence and adaptive business process capabilities found in the application server layer to the applications themselves, making process manipulation much easier. The enhancements should be the differentiator between Oracle and rivals SAP AG and Microsoft Corp., he said.
"First, were going to be standards-based, with our applications written in Java with J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition]. Second, were focusing on business insight. Thats important. Not that were ignoring business process ... but without business insight, you cant optimize business processes," said Wookey in Redwood Shores, Calif.
In terms of incremental functionality changes—primarily to minimize risk associated with running an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system—Oracle plans to make it easier to install and configure its applications through a set of human interfaces that enable higher availability during upgrades.
The big requirements from users are ensuring that needed functionality remains in Fusion, which will unite functionality from all three Oracle suites, and that current functionality upgrades enable a smoother migration path. Regarding the latter point, Wookey said the ability to describe a business process will start providing an inventory of business processes themselves.
"You can envision in application sets all the ways people manage the buying or CRM [customer relationship management]," said Wookey. "The BPM [business process management] tools give us a map to that, so rather than a simple set of switches, it describes the set of business functions [around a process] more clearly. The BPM tool starts giving us a pretty explicit definition of those things."
Meanwhile, Oracle users at OAUG, concerned about losing functionality in applications as Fusion develops, created a Fusion Council based on OAUGs special-interest-group model, which funnels functionality requests to Oracles product managers. Oracles technology stack comprises primarily its database and application server, which Oracle applications run on. The issue is that PeopleSofts applications are optimized for Oracles and IBMs databases and for Oracles and BEA Systems Inc.s application servers.
"On the application server, we cannot be agnostic; we are going to work to Fusion middleware. The team is going to make sure the Web server interoperates with [IBM] WebSphere or BEA, but were going to design our applications to our server," said Wookey. "Databases—it hasnt been decided yet. Its [Oracle CEO Larry Ellisons] decision."
With more than $1 billion in billable items flowing through his J.D. Edwards ERP system and consumed by an EnterpriseOne 8.10 upgrade, Jim Whalen, CIO at Boston Properties Inc., in Boston, said Oracle needs "to position and optimize [Fusion] for whats going to make sense, to clearly see the synergies of the technology stack and be able to leverage that for the application set."