Oracle's Fused Future: Support and Interoperability
San Francisco's population grew by some 35,000 people today as the Oracle Open World conference began. President Charles Phillips welcomed attendees to the Moscone Center with a brief rundown of Oracle's size ($11.8 billion in revenue, making it the world's largest enterprise software vendor), and its commitment to delivering on its core strategies and goals. More important, Phillips introduced new ISV and customer support options, and he discussed Project Fusion, Oracle's services-oriented architecture, at length.
Phillips provided concrete examples of Oracle's strength in support: a survey of PeopleSoft customers reported an increase of satisfaction in several key areas from the mid-70 percents to a range of 85 to 93 percent. This anecdote was a springboard to announce the first of the day's new initiatives: One Stop Support, a program providing qualified independent software vendors (ISVs) with multivendor support and a single point of contact. "With this new, integrated support program, we will continue to train Oracle people to support partner applications," Phillips said. According to Phillips, select providers would benefit from this new, seamless support model and remove delays caused by handing off support issues from vendor to vendor. Phillips also promised a lifetime support option for all current and future Oracle applications, including those gained through acquisition. "We want to assure our customers that their application investments will be protected," Phillips said.
Even more critical to Oracle's future, however, was Phillips's announcement of Oracle Fusion Architecture (OFA), the company's massive SOA, combining the flexibility of model-driven process design and service- and event-enabled applications with ease of integration from its open, standards-based, hot-pluggable platform, and the scalability inherent in Oracle's grid computing architecture. "In 1925 business consultant Frederick Taylor said, 'Business processes are work processes tucked away in manuals.' The same thing is true today, but with applications instead of manuals," Phillips said. "The Oracle Fusion Architecture is a unifying model of emerging trends in grid computing architecture, service-oriented architecture, and enterprise information architecture. It gives customers and partners a good view of the direction that Oracle is taking to make the most of our core strengths in database, middleware, and business applications."
According to Phillips, this next step in the evolution of SOA allows continuous re-engineering of processes and technology, and is inter-enterprise, meaning processes are no longer restricted to individual organizations. "The Oracle Service Registry is a Yellow Pages of services, allowing companies to pick and choose Web services to create apps," he added. Phillips claimed that this "Fusion Effect" would allow companies to execute changes with insight, have real-time usage and behavioral analytics, and link transactions to their context for better intelligence. "Project Fusion will create a single suite of applications over time, fuse the best of the best, unite them with OFA, and deliver superior ownership experience," Phillips said. He noted that the Fusion middleware component was ranked No. 1 by Forrester Research and was hailed by Gartner as the fastest-growing middleware platform.
One question (or series of questions) on the minds of customers and industry experts alike was the future of soon-to-be-acquired Siebel Systems. At a Q&A following the keynote, Phillips addressed concerns. "Even though we have said there is no risk and no change, it's still important to put Siebel customers at ease. We've set up a call center for Siebel customers within Oracle to speak with them, and to stay out in front of the press to keep people informed." Phillips reiterated his promise of lifetime support, countering the sarcastic musings of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff as to whether Oracle would ever support a product based on DB2 and IBM middleware. "We will support Siebel applications," Phillips repeated, noting that PeopleSoft and Retek applications also run on DB2. As to Siebel CRM OnDemand, Phillips said, "We're very impressed with what they've done, especially in such a short time. We're looking very carefully at how best to handle the on-demand product line."
The Siebel integration into Oracle will not be difficult from a human consideration standpoint either, Phillips said. "How will we put the companies together? Many Siebel employees worked at Oracle once before. The cultures are not as different as people on the outside may think." This included Tom Siebel. "Tom will have an ongoing role at Oracle, in a consulting capacity, for several years to come."
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