In a year when Oracle purchased 10 large and small companies to swell its application product line, Ellison sought to convince a large population of newly acquired customers that he doesnt intend to alienate them with high-pressure sales tactics.
Ellison keynotes are usually casual, off-the-cuff affairs where he makes a few brief opening remarks before inviting the audience to ask questions. On this occasion he spent more than 45 minutes detailing Oracles technology focus for the next two years before turning to the audience Q&A.
While he said Oracle intends to make upgrades to the next-generation Project Fusion applications "a very attractive destination" for customers, "we have no interest in moving anyone" who isnt ready to upgrade.
Nor will Oracle pressure customers to move to newer versions of the PeopleSoft or J.D Edwards applications that are currently in the works. Ellison even extended this pledge to customers using older versions of Oracle applications.
Oracle is going to use its Fusion middleware and open-standards Java technology to enable customers to use whatever combination of Oracle and third-party applications that they want to.
"Maybe you built a bunch of your own applications. We intend to preserve that investment for you by allowing those applications to co-exist with our applications," Ellison said.
While he also reaffirmed the companys pledge to continue IBM DB2 relational database support for the products and customers that currently work with DB2, he said that the company has not decided whether the next-generation Fusion applications will also support the competing database.
Oracle will continue discussions with customers before it decides whether DB2 support will be an essential feature for these new applications. The Fusion products, which are due for release between 2007 and 2008, will be totally new applications that encapsulate the best features of the enterprise resource planning applications that Oracle has acquired this year, according to company officials. This includes ERP and CRM applications from PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, Siebel Systems and the rest.
"It surprised a lot of people we intended to certify our applications" for DB2 and WebSphere, Ellison said, observing that he had heard a lot of comments from people who "thought we were going to force, coerce" customers to use Oracles middleware and database.
But he noted that Oracle announced that its recently acquired I-Flex banking applications, which were based on Oracle will offer versions supported DB2. It also confirmed DB2 support for the Retek retail applications that it acquired this spring.