Oracle Users Say App Support Is Good, Fusion Plans Still Up in the Air

Published: February 19, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

In the wake of Oracle's "Applications Unlimited" upgrade to four of its five software suites that happened two weeks ago, it seemed appropriate to reach out to the Independent Oracle Users Group to see what the users it represent think about Oracle and how it is taking care of them.

As previously reported, two weeks ago Oracle launched updates to four software suites: J.D. Edwards World A9.1, Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, PeopleSoft Enterprise Release 9.0, and Siebel Release 8.0; late last year, Oracle rolled out J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12. This is the most comprehensive refresh of Oracle's vast software portfolio since Oracle acquired PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems two years ago. (PeopleSoft acquired JDE before Oracle did a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.) Rather than talk up its broad vision of its future "Fusion" applications, which will be coded in Java and other SOA technologies, Oracle has been trying to reassure the customers who use its existing products that they can stay right where they are and that Oracle will continue to upgrade their existing software with new features and functions.

Ari Kaplan, president of IOUG, said that, in general, Oracle has done a good job rolling out new technology, including the updates to its application software but also with its Fusion middleware suite (not to be confused with the future "Fusion" applications) and the upcoming Oracle 10g R3 database, which is imminent. "Oracle has made a big push with Fusion middleware, and it has already reached $2 billion in annual sales," says Kaplan. "In fact, Fusion middleware--including the JDeveloper development environment, application servers, and other related middleware--is the fastest growing unit inside of Oracle."

Where customers appear to be happy, according to Kaplan, is with Oracle support. Which is odd, considering that one of the first things that customers often complain about in the wake of an acquisition is that support gets worse. In this case, Oracle's support seems to have improved the overall support for its acquired suites. (Some of you may argue otherwise, and just hit the Contact button at the top of this page to tell me all about it.) "People are happy with Oracle's customer support," explains Kaplan. "The quality of support and the level of customer interaction with Oracle's application developers and program managers are all good."

Where Oracle has not been successful--and the backpedaling on the Fusion applications during the Applications Unlimited announcement in New York two weeks ago show--is in assuring customers that they are not going to be somehow forced to migration to Fusion. Oracle has said this is the case, even after promising that an upgrade to Fusion from the existing five suites would be an upgrade, not a major push-pull scenario. (This seems so unlikely, which is why people do not fully trust what Oracle is saying.)

Kaplan is very clear about what Oracle will and will not do. "Oracle is not going to force anyone to upgrade to the future Fusion applications," he says. "This strategy has been well received, and it is the key to this marketplace. Some customers will find value with the Fusion applications, but they will still have to go through implementation and training to move. But, to be fair, even point releases of ERP software suites have this same problem. Oracle has been very clear in its marketing, but until Fusion applications exist, people will always question the unknown."

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