Ellison Forswears Customer Upgrade Coercion

Instead of the familiar high-pressure sales pitch, CEO Larry Ellison says that Oracle won't force customers into upgrading to the company's forthcoming Project Fusion line of enterprise applications.

SAN FRANCISCO—Making a rare speech from prepared notes, Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison drove home the theme of this weeks OpenWorld conference: that his company will refrain from dragooning customers into upgrading to the new Fusion products before they are ready to move.

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.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read Lisa Vaas reporters notebook from Oracle OpenWorld.

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.

Next Page: Supporting on-demand applications.

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s eWEEK.com since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...