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1/12/2009
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Oracle Customers About To Begin Testing Fusion Apps

Oracle senior VP Thomas Kurian gives advanced details on what to expect from a product set compiled from more than 40 software company acquisitions.

Since 2005, Oracle has said it's working on a next-generation set of applications, called Fusion, that pull together the best features of more than 40 software company acquisitions. Yet some customers, analysts, and others have questioned Fusion's fate, since Oracle hasn't provided such details as a product road map and delivery timetable.

In a sit-down interview with InformationWeek last week, Oracle senior VP Thomas Kurian, who heads Fusion development, provided new details that indicate an early version of the suite is near completion, and customers will begin formally testing it this year. In each case, a former PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems or JD Edwards customer is supposed to be able to upgrade to an equivalent Fusion application, with a match in functionality.

At InformationWeek's briefing, Kurian went further and said the way Fusion applications are being designed means that analytical information gathering will be built into application processes, and customers will have the option of implementing more business intelligence in connection with their applications.

In addition, Kurian said, no customers will be pushed or forced to move to Fusion if they don't want to. Development teams for each product line are working on new versions of all major applications, independent of the Fusion team.

About 450 customers are participating in Fusion App development and providing feedback to Oracle, Kurian said, and another 130 are working even more closely with Oracle on Fusion in an early-adopter program. This year, Oracle will launch a "formal beta" of the Fusion application development suite, he added.

While Kurian wouldn't discuss a timeframe for final completion, a 2009 beta likely means it will be at least 2010 or 2011 before Fusion is available to all of its customers.

Kurian said Oracle has stayed consistent with its plan, and built applications -- including financial apps, human resources, supply change management, procurement, and human capital management -- that combine the best functionality from the many applications it now sells, including JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and its own Oracle E-Business Suite.

The software will be offered in a full product suite sometime after the beta program is completed, but also can be adopted as individual apps. Kurian said Oracle hopes customers will adopt the full Fusion suite and gain application integration advantages in doing so, but that decision will be left to customers.

Customers who have software and maintenance contracts for existing Oracle apps can transition to the new applications under those same agreements at no charge. There are various modules in each application family. For example, financials includes accounts receivable, general ledger, and cost management.

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