Project Fusion: Coming Together or Falling Apart?
Oracle is building its Project Fusion initiative, but some PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers still have questions about pricing, migration paths and product road maps, and database support. In January the company announced plans to merge functionality from Oracle, PeopleSoft, and J.D. Edwards product lines using a Java-based service-oriented architecture, with the initial Project Fusion applications expected to be available in 2007 and Project Fusion applications suite delivery in 2008. Oracle says it will provide support for the PeopleSoft Enterprise, J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne, and J.D. Edwards World product lines through 2013.
"What [customers are] worried about--if they're worried--is what the migration path's going to be," especially customers who recently deployed PeopleSoft Enterprise applications, says Ray Wang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Oracle's made those commitments to support [PeopleSoft] products and find a migration path."
That's encouraging to the Florida school district of Manatee County, a JDE World customer. "If JDEWorld was no longer supported, I would have huge concerns about Project Fusion, due to the fear of the unknown," says Elizabeth Goins, systems analyst at the school district. "For now, we are very happy with World." John Matelski, president of Quest International User Group and CSO and deputy CIO for the city of Orlando, a J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne customer, agrees. "My confidence is bolstered by knowing that based on Oracle's current commitment, my current implementation will be supported through 2013, so the city of Orlando does not need to rush into a hasty decision," he says.
Part of the uncertainty among the PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards customer base circles back to Oracle's unclear message, says Jim Sheperd, senior vice president at AMR Research. "They arrived at a brand called Fusion, and then promptly applied it to everything, so you've got Fusion Middleware, you've got a Project Fusion, and you have Fusion, which is an end-state, next-generation product," he says. "So when people talk about Fusion, it gets all mixed up together. Generally, what we hear from PeopleSoft customers is that things are much better than expected."
A big concern specific to the PeopleSoft line amongst customers is the rollout schedules of all the PeopleSoft modules, says Roger Rudenstein, president of the PeopleSoft Northeast Regional User Group. "Will all existing PeopleSoft modules be part of Fusion, including Pension, Time and Labor, EPM? These questions have yet to be clearly answered." Customers also want to know how maintenance and pricing will evolve, how Oracle will execute its product development strategy, if the needs of small to midmarket customers will be heard, and if Oracle will support the iSeries platform and DB2 databases under the Fusion road map, according to Matelski. Dave Hyzy, IT director at Benderson Development Company, and president of the JDEWorld User Group, says his most significant long-term concern is Oracle's continued commitment to the iSeries platform, especially DB2 and WebSphere. "It would take a truly enlightened company to create software that ran on products in competition with products from other divisions of its own company. In the short term my concern is for the brain drain that inevitably results from the focus on development of a new product."
Overall, though, "Oracle has a shot at creating a super product line that will alleviate the main problems of the current PeopleSoft product, which are too much complexity, a cobbled-together nature that exists due to trying to fit a Windows product into a Web paradigm, and [that it's] difficult and time consuming to upgrade," Rudenstein says. "If Oracle truly listens to the customer base and assigns talented people to the development effort, it should succeed in this endeavor."