• January 31, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Oracle's World of Unlimited Possibilities

At its Applications Unlimited event held in New York City today, Oracle unveiled new versions of its five major product lines while outlining its integration and Project Fusion strategy moving forward. Project Fusion will continue to pull Oracle's various product lines into one end-all be-all architecture, but Applications Unlimited will let customers "continue to get innovation in existing releases and choose when they are ready to move to the next generation technology" in the meantime, said John Wookey, senior vice president of application development. The widely expected updates fulfill the promise Oracle made before closing its contentious PeopleSoft acquisition two years ago: that it would continue developing its acquired applications and meet its road maps for next-generation releases. Applications Unlimited is Oracle's slogan for its pledge to continue enhancing and supporting its various applications lines for as long as customers require. The company has promised eternal support on current applications and plans at least one more major release for each application family before its new, converged Fusion applications line in 2008. The Applications Unlimited launch showcased the releases of five new products: Oracle E-Business Suite 12, PeopleSoft Enterprise 9, Siebel CRM 8, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12, and JD Edwards World A9.1. "These releases are proof that Oracle is delivering on its strategy to protect and extend customers' current investments in Oracle's leading suite solutions," said Oracle president Charles Phillips, during his keynote. Major enhancements to the products include:
  • Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.0: The 18 new products and 2,443 enhancements are designed to help businesses think globally, according to Wookey. Enhancements include new profitability, human capital, and project portfolio managers, as well as a centralized financial architecture.
  • PeopleSoft Enterprise Release 9.0: This product includes PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Capital Management (HCM) 9.0. The new release of HCM delivers talent management capabilities and leverages Fusion Middleware.
  • Siebel CRM 8: The new version has ten new products and 366 enhancements, the biggest being a new task-based user interface, enterprise search capabilities, SOA-enabled CRM, and embedded intelligence and analytics to drive real-time analysis during a customer interaction.
  • JD Edwards World A9.1: This is the first major release of JD Edwards World in 10 years, according to Wookey. Enhancements will provide customers with compliance support, operational excellence, technology improvements, and capabilities for global operations.
  • JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12: Delivered in the spring of 2006, the latest release of EnterpriseOne includes a new operational sourcing module and three new modules for the food and beverage industry, as well as 291 enhancements. Integrating on a release-by-release process remains the key to Oracle's strategy moving forward, and all five releases are certified on Fusion Middleware, providing a common framework for shared capabilities such as BI, business process analysis, and identity and access management, according to Phillips. The company currently places applications into four domains--ERP/CRM, industry suites, ISV applications built by partners, and custom applications built by customers--all of which will be converged utilizing Fusion. "In a perfect world, we'll have a common platform to maintain and develop all these applications using open standards," Phillips said, referring to Project Fusion. Fusion, the company's next generation enterprise application suite that will bundle all existing applications and middleware together, is "still on schedule to release its first version in 2008," Phillips said. In addition to the applications, Fusion will also bring a new middleware suite. Both the applications and middleware will be based on Java and aim to enable SOA. Wookey said that customers could expect to see increased emphasis in future releases on next generation technologies, including Web 2.0, SOA, Fusion Middleware, and open-based standards, which he says are the four key technologies that are enabling Fusion. While Web 2.0 will provide Oracle with the ability to integrate and deploy the desktop tools that match business workflows, SOA will let Oracle create componentized applications that give customers more IT flexibility in relation to changing business processes and environments. Fusion Middleware will provide the underlying integration platform while Java open-based standards will provide application customization. "Java open-based standards has always won over the IT industry, and we're betting on that moving forward," Wookey said. Analytics and BI also remain at the top of Oracle's priority list, with many of the new product releases incorporating analytic and reporting enhancements. These enhancements follow the launch of release 3 of Oracle's Enterprise Business Intelligence Suite, which the company announced Monday. In terms of its vertical solutions, Phillips says customers can expect more vertically focused acquisitions within the "foreseeable future." Currently, the company operates four divisions--retail, communications, utilities, and financial services--all of which are run by CEOs of companies that were previously acquired, Phillips says, referring to purchases such as Retek (in retail) and i-flex (in banking). While the majority of Oracle's functionality footprint within these verticals has been filled in, Phillips did allude to future acquisitions of companies providing application functionality for fund management, mortgage, and trading/investment banking for their financial services division, and risk management for their utilities division. "We're filling in the remaining blanks," Phillips said. "We think vertical suites and solutions is where a big portion of our business is going to come from." Related articles: Oracle Makes Intelligence Accessible Oracle Looks to Get More Out of Data
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