While the new AIA platform could very well wind up overshadowing Fusion Applications—the impetus for the Adaptive Business Solutions group—Oracles new partner initiatives could have a second, unintended effect: salving partner issues on the apps front.
"Weve been a longtime partner on the platform side. Were one of the top five ISVs with Fusion Middleware components. But what weve always struggled with is [Oracle] has always acted as two separate companies: platform and applications. On the apps side that was like one company; they were very disconnected [in terms of] the way they go about looking at [partners] strategically," said Chris Wong, executive vice president and chief products officer at Agile Software, in San Jose, Calif. "More than anything [Oracle] wants to change that, to put more value on partners."
Oracle is also working toward the eventual goal of having partners build third-party, or composite, applications using the AIA platform.
"Its a natural extension," said Tom Herrmann, vice president of ISV management and programs at Oracle. "In some cases its been like pulling teeth [to get partners to develop applications]. Theyve had to do it because customers wanted them to. [AIA] will incent them in some cases to build more around the Oracle ecosystem."
Herrmann said that with all the acquisitions Oracle has made over the past couple of years—32 in 34 months—it has been "difficult for partners to keep up." By building to a common model adding one more product on the back end, either Fusion Applications or another acquisition, partners wont have to worry about integrations.
But building composite applications is more of a "phase two" project that is between 12 and 18 months out, according to Herrmann. He will start first with the "low-hanging fruit" of getting partners to leverage the AIA technology, then work toward building an ecosystem around composite applications.
But to be successful in building a partner ecosystem, Oracles Lazares said there are three things the company needs to do.
"We needed to have a more direct development involvement. Partners would say, We want to interface to the current API, [but it] isnt supported, how do I expose those services? By having development involved we can influence those decisions more directly and engage ISVs."
Secondly, Oracle needed to take more of an industry and process-centric view of the market to create a better go-to-market approach with partners, something that its working on now through the industry solution maps and other initiatives. Lastly, Oracle needs to work through the nature of its relationships with partners, where it deems there is value in having both Oracle and third-party applications in a single environment, according to Lazares. "Thats really going to be where the rubber meets the road," he said. "The fruit will be on how well we deliver over the next year with partners."
For Agile Software, a PLM (product lifecycle management) company that, as a function of what its software does, really needs to integrate with systems of record from the likes of Oracle, SAP and Infor. The fact that Oracle is looking to be more partner-centric in its applications division is an indication that Oracle is coming to understand the value of other software companies in the Oracle world, according to Agiles Wong.
"There is more a willingness to talk in terms of how a third-party application would add value in an Oracle solution set," said Wong. "With the potential of the Process Integration Packs and industry reference maps Oracle is talking about, I am encouraged to go forward with that."
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