Industry analysts on Thursday questioned whether Oracle Corp. is anywhere close to reaching the halfway point in its effort to create the Fusion Applications.
Oracle executives briefed media and analysts on the companys progress in developing the data model and specifications for its Fusion Applications, at an event Wednesday at San Franciscos City Hall.
Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware Development, also disclosed that the company will add new features to its Fusion Middleware by the weeks end that will enable developers to create composite applications using a visual container.
Kurians middleware presentation followed Oracle president Charles Phillips comment that “were halfway there” with the development of the Fusion applications.
That statement is plausible when Fusion Middleware is put into perspective: Its a group of products that Oracle has had for quite some time—an application server, BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) engine, BAM (business activity monitoring) capabilities and more—that it combined to form Fusion Middleware a couple of years ago.
What Oracle has done to date is refine that product, and it has made a good deal of progress.
But Oracle missed a beat in Wednesdays Fusion road map presentation by failing to provide any real detail about the Fusion Applications themselves—where any changes will impact Oracles huge ERP (enterprise resource planning) customer base.
The omission of any substantive details leads some analysts to conclude that Oracle is nowhere close to half way there when it comes to bringing together the E-Business Suite with the PeopleSoft and JD Edwards suites to create Fusion Applications.
“Whats misleading is Charles Phillips saying theyre halfway there, because there is no way you can parse what theyre saying and come up with half. A quarter of the way there, maybe,” said Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Berkeley, Calif.
“They were very sparse on details about the applications. They said its going to be an upgrade, not a reimplementation. You are going to be reimplementing; I dont care what they say,” Greenbaum said.
What Oracle still has left to do, in terms of building out Fusion Applications, is lay out a functionality road map, he said.
“They are missing functionality, process and data models that are going to go into the functional areas,” Greenbaum said. “These are very complicated things that have to be dealt with to build the suite. At the end of the day, I walked away saying Oracle is going to have serious trouble meeting a 2008 deadline.”
Fusion Wont Just Be
While Phillips did say that Oracle will standardize on the E-Business Suite data model for Fusion Applications, Greenbaum said this was a misleading statement.
“Theyre going to use the E-Business data model for a lot of things, but CRM [customer relationship management] is coming from Siebel [Systems Inc.], and with that comes a lot of verticalized data models that Siebel already developed, that therefore have to be synched with whats happening in the other functional areas,” Greenbaum said.
Oracles acquisition of Seibel is expected to close by months end. The bottom line with Oracles Fusion Applications road map is that its going to be disruptive to users, said Gartner Inc. analyst Yvonne Genovese, in Stamford, Conn.
“The likelihood of them having a product [by 2008] is pretty likely because theyre basing most of what theyre doing on a current product—the E-Business Suite,” Genovese said.
She added that it is also “pretty likely” that Oracle will succeed in delivering the Fusion applications “because theyre basing most of what theyre doing on a current product—the E-Business Suite.”
However, the results will be more than what Oracle is describing as an upgrade from one level to another, she said.
“Its really a migration. Its going to change the customers business process,” Genovese said. “Even E-Business Suite users will have to use new processes and a new user experience. And [training is] most of the cost,” she said.
Genovese said she believes its those process changes that will open up the market to Oracles vast user base, which, faced with the prospect of implementing a new product, will choose to look around.
“SAP is not the automatic answer there,” Genovese said. Many users perceive SAP as expensive or they just dont want to go that route, she said, adding, “I think it will open up [the market] to a lot of different players—the Lawsons of the world. It doesnt automatically mean that Oracle is going to lose either.”
What users have to do next is build a business case to determine the value of implementing a new version of either Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards, knowing theyre going to implement a totally new product in the future, according to Genovese.
At least one user, though, said he doesnt see much reason to think about what might happen in 2008.
“Im trying to figure out why anyone would care, outside of Oracle,” said William Lawson, vice president and CIO of Ametek Inc., in Paoli, Penn.
“We own both JD Edwards and Oracle [11i] and were doing our best to take advantage of what we have now. I dont see this as a 2006, or maybe not even a 2007 problem. My thinking is there will be a time when the next logical path forward for us will be some next version of Oracle, and the fact that its Fusion doesnt matter to me.”