In his first keynote address at OAUG (a conference that now includes users from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel Systems, companies Oracle has acquired over the past year and a half) Phillips outlined the companys Applications Unlimited program.
The bottom line: Oracle will continue to upgrade its existing E-Business, PeopleSoft, JDE and Siebel applications beyond 2013, the cut-off date it had initially given when it announced the Fusion road map in 2005.
The announcement, according to Phillips, means no forced upgrades for customers.
The goal of Fusion Applications is to bring together the best of functionality from Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JDE and Siebel into a sort of super-suite. The applications will be based on Oracles Fusion Middleware platform, utilizing the Fusion Architecture, which takes a services-based approach to infrastructure development.
With the first Fusion applications expected around 2008, users have been sitting on the fence, waiting to determine Oracles plans before making upgrade (or migration, as the case may be) decisions.
"Fusion is a make-or-break effort for Oracle," said one JDE developer in the pharmaceutical industry who is attending the OAUG event to determine whether to move forward with Oracle or look to rival SAP.
With the Applications Unlimited announcement, Phillips said, Oracle is also providing more "visibility" into product road maps—critical functionality information the company has been short with in the past. Its also improving customer support, an area where Oracle is working to change its once notoriously negative reputation.
"Customers are pretty happy," Phillips said. "On Day One [of the PeopleSoft acquisition] they feared the worst. Now theyre saying, Hey, Im getting pretty good customer service."
Phillips, more jocular than in previous keynotes, likened Oracles Applications Unlimited program to trains running on parallel tracks.
"Were committed to additional features," Phillips said. "The concept is [to deliver] the next release, but its unlimited. It goes on in parallel [to Fusion]. Its different train tracks. You can ride on the one you want and jump on the next track when youre ready. Its all going together in parallel. All were doing is adding another track with Fusion. You can jump on when you want to."
As with the Fusion applications, Oracle plans to work with customer advisory boards and user groups to help design new releases and functional enhancements for the individual suites. At the same time, it will build in "Fusion-esque" capabilities like XML reporting and industry-based analytics, he said.
During his address Phillips also talked about some additional initiatives underway, including Project Genesis, the integration road map between Oracle and Siebel applications—and the certification of those integrations—and a partnership with IBM to support the Series I platform—formerly known as the AS/400 platform—for JDE users.
"You have choice. You can move forward with System I technology and do this in a very evolutionary way," Mark Shearer, general manager for System I in the IBM System and Technology Group, said during the keynote address. "This is exactly what youve been asking for, for the past 18 months."