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Global CIO: Oracle's New Fusion Apps: An Inside Look

Here's an advance look at some of the features and product strategy behind the Fusion Apps that Larry Ellison will introduce today at Oracle Open World.

Oracle has devoted five years and invested probably somewhere around $4 billion in developing its almost-ready Fusion applications, a project Larry Ellison has called "an enormous engineering undertaking" and a "stunningly large project."

And while Ellison was supposed to save the Fusion apps introduction for his Wednesday keynote at Oracle Open World, his excitement got the best of him Sunday night as he couldn't resist giving just a glimpse of what this megaproject has been all about.

I want to share the key points from that sneak-peek Ellison offered but also give you a much more substantial overview of what to expect from Fusion apps courtesy of a long conversation I had two months ago at Oracle headquarters with executive vice-president and head of product strategy Thomas Kurian, who described in significant detail Oracle's goals and objectives for the applications that Ellison believes will allow his company to overtake SAP as the world leader in enterprise applications.

So first here are some key points from Ellison's preview, and then much more-detailed analysis and perspective from Kurian. From Ellison:

  • "We took all of the best features from all of our applications—E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards,etc.—and totally re-implemented them on our modern middleware architecture. First we built all that modern Fusion middleware, and then we were able to build the apps."

  • "We'll be starting to deliver Fusion apps to real customers at the end of this year—maybe 50 or 100. By the end of the first quarter of 2011, we'll be moving to general availability."

  • "Our key design principle was that these would be business-intelligence-driven apps—not process driven, but BI-driven. It's truly 'Information Age' ERP and CRM and HRMS, where you can not only create purchase orders but also ask questions and get answers to things like, 'Which of my vendors is best? Who always delivers on time and at the lowest cost?"

  • "Our new Fusion apps are built on top of 100% vanilla Fusion Middleware, nothing added, nothing customized. So not only does Fusion Middleware completely support Fusion apps, but also, because we've deployed it with a service-oriented architecture, we've made it very easy for you to integrate Fusion apps with not only current Oracle apps but also SAP apps, for example—we weren't looking to create any rip-and-replace requirements."

  • "The user interface should be very familiar—it will look a lot like Facebook or any other modern application—it doesn't look like E-Business suite, or like SAP—it's a fully modern application. It's got social networking built-in, and collaboration built-in, and it'll all be available on-premise or through the public cloud."

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    And here are some key insights from Kurian on the strategic objectives Oracle intends that Fusion applications will fulfill. (For the full range of Kurian's comments, you can read Global CIO: Oracle Product Chief Offers Glimpse At New Fusion Apps.)

    Like Ellison, Kurian stressed the BI-centric nature of Fusion Apps plus their native social networking and collaboration features, and below you'll find Kurian's analysis for Fusion Apps for CRM, Financials, and Supply Chain, as well as his explanation of how Oracle is trying a number of new approaches to give customers a variety of unintimidating approaches to try out the new applications:

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