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Oracle Launches Massive Update To All Five App Lines

Oracle gathered partners, customers and press on Wednesday to hail major new versions of all five application sets in its software lineup.
Fusion is supposed to bring together all of the best features of Oracle's diverse applications line in a modern, modular architecture. Beyond promising that Fusion will make its debut sometime next year and assuring customers that the upgrade path will be painless, Oracle has said little about what its new applications line will be like.

Oracle recently had a deep-dive session with two dozen top customer CIOs to hash out Fusion details, and it will soon start going public with its plans, according to John Wookey, Oracle's senior vice president of applications development.

"You'll hear more from us about Fusion in the next couple of months," Wookey said.

Moving to the latest versions of Oracle's applications will ease the Fusion upgrade path by bringing more of Oracle's core, standardized middleware components into customers' enterprises, Wookey said. But it won't be required: Oracle plans to enable Fusion upgrades of several of the most recent releases in each of its applications' product lines.

Channel partners generally like what they're hearing from Oracle. LS Technologies' Gallagher echoed Wookey's comments on Oracle's evolutionary approach. Oracle is gradually adding more and more system-level services that tap into all of its applications, he noted.

Gallagher and other partners said Oracle's conservative approach of continuing development on current applications while building a converged application set incorporating the "greatest hits" of each line resonates with customers.

"Their hope is that's what customers will want to buy," said Scott Jenkins, CEO of The EBS Group in Kansas City, Mo. "The 'best of the best' [would be] the HR from PeopleSoft, manufacturing from JD Edwards, analytics from Siebel, etc."

To avoid spooking customers that fear a forced march to Fusion, Oracle is heavily emphasizing its promise to be a good steward of customers' investments. In some cases, partners and customers concede that Oracle is doing a better job than the applications' previous owners. World A9.1, for instance, is a major revitalization of a product that hasn't had a full overhaul since the late 1990s.

"This is a big proof point around our commitment to applications unlimited," Wookey said.

How unlimited is "unlimited"? Pushed for details about when Oracle will sunset its current applications' lines, Wookey said, "At some point, the planet will explode and it won't matter anymore. We'll have fewer customer upgrades at that point."