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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.
On the functionality side, the biggest change is that for the first time, Oracle's entire applications suite will have business intelligence integrated throughout, including technologies from its Hyperion acquisition, Kurian said.

That means, for example, an order-entry function in the Fusion supply chain management application offers the ability for a retail user to analyze which suppliers have products that are frequently returned, Kurian said. He calls it the "unification of transaction processing and analytics." Fusion apps also will share a modernized user interface that provides users with guidance on how to use the analytic features.

There also are technical improvements over existing Oracle applications. Users will be able to customize their Fusion applications, such as defining new attributes not included in the original application model. Metadata on the changes is captured and made available to Fusion middleware, which then recognizes the attributes and makes them work in connection with the rest of the application. When an application upgrade occurs, the customization automatically gets added to the upgrade rather than requiring the user to engineer it into the upgrade all over again, Kurian explained.

Unlike non-Fusion applications, "the design of the app from the ground up is to allow changeability after it ships," Kurian said. Fusion applications allow this changeability because they're being built along a model-view-controller architecture, which separates data from business logic and user presentation. In addition, Oracle is using Service Data Objects, a simplified approach to architecting Java objects for use as services.

"We wanted to make the applications less monolithic. ... So when you get a new version app, you can upgrade to it to preserve the customer's customization," Kurian noted.

The Fusion approach also is designed to lend itself to more flexible business process isolation and modification. Kurian indicated that Toys "R" Us, which uses Oracle technologies and applications from two of its acquisitions, Retek and ProfitLogic, is an early adopter. The majority of the retailer's business happens in the Christmas season, Kurian noted, and during that time it must expedite order fulfillment to all of its suppliers.

But making temporary, seasonal changes on how to process orders in a supply chain system is complicated, since the process is buried inside the app. Fusion applications allow the business process to be redefined with the season, such as raising a $1,000 limit on customer orders during the holidays when orders are routinely much larger.

Kurian said users who stay up to date on Oracle application upgrades will have the easiest transition to Fusion apps, since the Fusion data models will be a superset of the most recent data models in the most current version of its apps. Their business processes will "already be adopted to what you'll be doing in Fusion," he said.