Oracle EVP of Apps Outlines Strategy

Q&A: John Wookey, Oracle's senior vice president of application development, speaks with about the company's philosophy on SOA and its steps toward Fusion.

With the goal of finding common ground, assuaging fears and moving forward after the PeopleSoft acquisition, this weeks Oracle Application User Group annual conference in Grapevine, Texas brought together for the first time Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards users.

The conference also brought some small revelations about what users can expect from Oracle in the future.

John Wookey, Oracles senior vice president of application development (appointed to the top spot following the controversial acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc. last December) spoke with, detailing the companys philosophy on SOA (service-oriented architecture) and application development.

That philosophy, backed by concrete development plans, will see early iterations in the next major releases of Oracles software—Oracle E-Business 12, Enterprise 9 and EnterpriseOne 8.12—and come to fruition in Fusion, Oracles next-generation application suite and underlying technology stack.

The big message to the current customers is that the responsibility for us is to try to simultaneously invest … wait, let me back up. If you look at this industry over the past 20 years, theres been evolution in architecture and in technology—file system to database, client server evolved, the Internet became infrastructure. Each was needed because of evolution of technology, or new ways to solve business problems we wanted to address.

We realized there was a category of problems, not with our core applications, but with how applications fit into the broader strategy for business.

We started realizing there are ways to handle issues that our current applications didnt address, through a service-oriented architecture. Not the age-old illusion of plug and play, but ways to think about architecting applications so there is more flexibility in terms of how [users] integrate and extend applications—and to do it in a much more cost-effective, low risk way.

We started working on this several years ago … we needed to have a way that would allow an end customer to take advantage of what we delivered as standard, but who also needed to be able to adapt to their business. With 11iX we are embracing this architecture.

Where does PeopleSoft fit in?

With PeopleTools X, they were working on this [SOA path]—it was exactly the same project, but we didnt have a lot of robust lifecycle management tools that effectively manage applications and move forward with a lot of very slick declarative tools. But with PeopleTools, because they were proprietary, [PeopleSoft] was starting to determine how they were going to move to a Java-based, standards-based platform.

The term Project Fusion actually came from the PeopleSoft team, working with Oracle. They said, You know, we have one project here, not two. We were working toward the same end—what we were going to was fusion, and the name stuck.

When we talk to people about Fusion and its evolution, the classic thing that happens is they think about the new thing, and not reality. Every customer we have is running on the E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards.

So when we started with the next-generation [suite], we wanted to continue to move applications forward, and add critical functionality that would make it more successful.

The other thing is in thinking differently about the architecture—we had this great opportunity to look at how JDE, PeopleSoft and Oracle solved problems, and take advantage of the best of that, and leverage better than the best.

As were doing this, one of the ways you make applications more adaptive, is you leverage what are increasingly more mature BPM [business process management] tools—which is increasingly in the application server—called BPEL [Business Process Execution Language].

We realized that as a foundation design point, there is nothing that keeps us from introducing that in the current version of our software.

In PeopleSoft 9, for example, we have a much more configured business flow together with the applications. So as much as Fusion is a destination point, we also see it as an evolution by taking advantage of [process capabilities].

Next page: "Fusion" capabilities in individual suites.