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Oracle cautiously pushes Fusion Applications to enterprises

Companies will continue to have choice when it comes to their business application portfolio, Oracle says

ORLANDO - Oracle is continuing to take a cautious approach in pushing its new Fusion Applications to enterprises.

At the Collaborate 11 user show here today, a senior company executive said that enterprises that want to immediately implement Fusion Applications can do so, by taking advantage of Oracle's early adopter program.

However, Oracle will also continue to fully support its existing business application portfolio for customers that don't want to immediately migrate, said Steve Miranda, Oracle's senior vice president of application development.

The goal is to give customers a way to stay on their current upgrade path with their existing products and to deploy Fusion in modular fashion, when they are ready to do so, he said.

Miranda's comments come amid some concerns that Fusion Apps will somehow result in forced migrations for users of Oracle's legacy business application portfolio, even though Oracle itself has committed to continued enhancements of existing products under its Applications Unlimited program.

Oracle's Fusion Applications is a line of open-standards based business applications similar to the technologies it has acquired over the years from its purchases of companies such as Siebel, Peoplesoft, JD Edwards and others.

The Fusion Application suite features over 100 separate modules including those for financial management, human capital management, governance, risk and compliance, CRM and supply chain management.

The company has been working on the technology for several years now and recently started shipping it to customers under the early adopter program.

Oracle says Fusion Apps integrates best-of-breed features from the various business application products the company has acquired over the year. Miranda said that more 50 enterprises so far have deployed the technology, many of them alongside existing legacy applications.

Companies will be able to seamlessly upgrade their existing business applications to Fusion Apps as long as they are using either the latest version of their legacy software or the version prior to the latest one, he said.

Enterprises will have the choice of deploying Fusion as an on-premise technology or consume it under a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model from Oracle. The tools are architected from the ground up for Web services and will form a core part of Oracle's cloud strategy going forward. "Fusion is our new Software-as-a-Service," Miranda said.

Mark Temple, information technology director at Ciena, said his company is thinking of replacing its 12 year-old Siebel customer relationship management (CRM) technology with a new Fusion CRM capability. In Ciena's case, the company will have to simply rip and replace the legacy technology because it's too old to be upgraded to Fusion, he said.

However, the innovation and the additional functionality present in Fusion will make the move worth it, Temple said.

But Mark Clark, senior partner with Oracle partner O2Works and president of the Oracle Application User Group (OAUG), said that customer response to Fusion could be somewhat muted initially.

"I'm impressed with the way Oracle is taking very cautious steps in rolling out [Fusion Apps]," Clark said. "They are taking very small, very controlled steps," to ensure that consumers are not spooked by the new technology, he said.

"This is a major change that is taking place," Clark said. "Oracle has technology it has acquired over the years, and now they are supposedly taking the best of that technology and bringing it to a common data model."

Clark said that nobody he has spoken with has any immediate plans to deploy Fusion. "They are looking at the first, early adopters. They want to see some successes," before they are willing to risk moving to the new technology, he said. "I think people know that it takes a few releases before something becomes stable."

Andy Flower, managing director of Right Triangle Consulting and president of the Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG), said that Oracle appears to be giving customers a couple of options for deploying Fusion Applications.

"The premise is you can take modules and components and integrate them into what you have, when you need it," Flower said.

Customers have the choice of installing the software on premise, or signing up for it under a cloud service or SaaS model, he said.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com .

Read more about applications in Computerworld's Applications Topic Center.


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