After an intense 18-month battle that brought some bitter recriminations from PeopleSoft customers, Oracle in December 2004 succeeded in acquiring its rival PeopleSoft. With the purchase, Oracle also acquired J.D. Edwards, a midmarket enterprise-resource-planning company that PeopleSoft had acquired earlier that year.
At the Oracle Applications User Group Connection Point conference in Grapevine, Texas, last week, users from all three companies, now under the aegis of Oracle Corp., came together for the first time. OAUG (Oracle Applications User Group) president Patricia Dues spoke with eWEEK senior writer Renee Boucher Ferguson about the conference, and about the common goals of the attendees.
Particularly with the combination of Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc. and J.D. Edwards & Co. users, hows the conference going?
Weve had a wonderful turnout. Were getting great comments from attendees and exhibitors. Theres a lot of synergy—not so much what application you use, but being able to share information among industries.
There area a lot of companies from government here, for example, that Ive been able to share information with. Thats why theres a lot of energy. Were also able to go to any session [whether youre a user or not]. Its very open, so its giving you two conferences in one, basically.
We talked last year about OAUGs special-interest groups that funnel functionality requests up to Oracle. How is that effort going to work with the combined user groups?
We started the Fusion council. The enhancement process was in pilot stage [last year], and the enhancements programs worked extremely well for a couple pilots we tried. And now wed like to use that process for Fusion—the path to one application for all of us.
The council will be representing all industries, all product lines, all user groups, applications and technology globally.
That seems like a pretty tall order.
All of the groups … all belong to the International Oracle User Council. We will have representatives [from each] that are going to represent applications and technology. The key is, what functionality do we have today that we definitely need going forward—[so Oracle] doesnt pull any functionality—and what are the enhancements and added functionality wed like to see.
Were trying to get the best of all worlds in this. And then we have to look at the technology stack, too—it has to be something all of us can run on our system.
Were just starting to structure the group. The overall council will consist of 20 to 30 companies. Under that, there will be separate groups with specific areas to represent; then it will keep funneling down. Wed like to see the enhancement process we put in place [with the special-interest groups] feeding back to Oracle.
What is the enhancement process?
It was put in place last year. This year, we ran our pilots and it worked fine; it worked very successfully. The special-interest groups are comprised of customers for applications. We did it for self-service human resources and order management. The groups got together, evaluated functionality and identified what theyd like to see. The group then ranked the requested functionality and voted.
The ones that got highest ranked were the ones electronically submitted to Oracle. Oracle could pull a file up and a project manager evaluated [the request] to see if it was something that was already planned, something that could go into a new release, or something theyre just not going to do.
What percentage of suggestions made it in?
Some made it in.
Do you feel you have enough information regarding Fusion to go on?
It isnt just a product; its a path. It isnt something thats going to be tomorrow; its something thats going to be slowly integrated to what were using today, though there will be a leap-off at some point. Oracle did identify the versions you will leap from there into Fusion. They are putting together a project roadmap and will identify them.
What are your thoughts on a platform that will work for everyone?
Of course it will have the Oracle database. I have to believe that Oracle database is going to be the database of choice. I know they know what all users use; I dont know if we have any decision yet [as to what Oracle will support]. [Microsoft] SQL and all sorts could be running [on the stack]. Theyre evaluating all that.
When will you start sending functionality requests up to Oracle?
We have a list serve for the Fusion Council opened up to people that are interested, and they can start logging some functionality. Its a slow process. That will get converted into an official process and software.
Were thinking in 60 to 90 days, we should have this structure in place. We need to also tie into Oracles roadmap—they need to identify that. It doesnt make sense to work on higher education if its going to be financials that theyre concentrating on.
Is there one area of priority you would like to see over another?
No, we dont have a specific priority. Wed like to hear from Oracle what their thoughts are on it.