SAN FRANCISCO—Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called in sick with the flu to the Oracle Fusion Event Wednesday evening at City Hall here, leaving company President Charles Phillips to take the lead in presenting in painstaking detail the technical specifications for next-generation enterprise application suite.
What had been called Project Fusion is now named Fusion Applications because the “project” part “sounds too exploratory,” Phillips said. Other essential components include Fusion Middleware and Fusion Architecture.
Oracle executives insist the company is about halfway to completing the suite even though it only announced it a year ago. In fact, Oracle is ahead of schedule, according to Phillips.
“Weve got the blueprint. Weve got the data model. We believe in a single data model, single instance. Well just extend that with great functionality and strongly established middleware,” said Phillips. He pointed to four key areas as proof points: Oracles existing applications are certified on Fusion Middleware, the “best of” functions are defined, Fusion Architecture is defined, and the middleware tools are ready.
“The hardest part—the requirements—have been done,” said Phillips.
Oracle executives also outlined how functionality is being culled from Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft and JD Edwards suites—although it appears most of the features are coming mainly from PeopleSoft—to be written into the new Fusion Applications suite, due around 2008.
Steve Miranda, senior vice president of Financial Application Development at Oracle, gave a rundown of the development process moving toward Fusion Applications thats being used to cull both horizontal functionality across the applications and more specific functionality used, for example, in financial applications.
“We gathered requirements from our customers, from the field, and looked at market trends and changes in technology,” said Miranda. “Starting from the E-Business Suite data model, we extended that to take some key features of PeopleSoft Enterprise.”
For horizontal functionality, Oracle will look to port over some development techniques used in PeopleSoft applications. For example, PeopleSoft had something called Trees, which are different data access hierarchies within businesses for which PeopleSoft provided a set of tools and a user interface for report generation. The Trees data model, it turns out, can exist quite nicely—and moved fairly easily—in the Oracle data model.
At the same time, PeopleSoft and Oracle applications have similar mechanisms to distribute data and determine how users map their business to the software—basically the functionality that governs who can view and manipulate the data.
“On the PeopleSoft side there is a lower level of granularity thats given [users] increased decisions on who can transact on data, so weve taken those concepts in Enterprise and extended that into e-business,” said Miranda.
As Oracle sees it, a lot of the development techniques used at Oracle, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards are similar. By bringing over the more subtle and granular functionality from PeopleSoft, users will, in effect, have a more seamless upgrade path.
“Going to a more granular data model for the e-business customer is pretty simple. [It just] introduces more granularity and still upgrades as one,” said Miranda. “For Enterprise [users] since the new schema looks very much like what you had, the upgrade is very straightforward. Its exactly what they understand, what they know.”
On the front end of the applications, Oracle will take a very PeopleSoft-centric approach by using the work done by PeopleSoft usability engineers. The caveat is the user interface will be “skin-able,” or customizable if users dont fancy the PeopleSoft UI.
In terms of module functionality, Oracle is taking in requirements from customers and assuring that there will be no loss of functionality.
“In financials, there will be lots of focus around receivables, comprehensive budgeting, travel authorization,” said Miranda. “Across human resources there will be a compensation workbench from PeopleSoft and an object management system.”
In the middle of last year Oracle started migrating from building applications in Oracle Forms to building in Java—the basis for Fusion Applications moving forward.