Of the major ERP vendors, Oracle faces the biggest challenge. Its next-generation Fusion applications line will combine elements of the acquired PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel software with Oracle's own E-Business Suite. And the vendor has promised to enhance and maintain those older applications for as long as customers demand it.
Oracle has introduced pieces of PeopleSoft 9.0, the next major upgrade to PeopleSoft's popular apps, with more to come during the year. PeopleSoft 10 will follow in 12 to 18 months. Last week, Oracle released PeopleTools 8.48, a new version of the PeopleSoft development toolset with support for service-oriented architectures.
Later this year Oracle will roll out E-Business Suite 12i, and new releases of Siebel and JD Edwards apps are due in 2007. All will offer upgrade paths to Fusion, which is slated for delivery in 2008.
Fusion is being designed to run on Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based Web servers, including IBM's WebSphere and BEA Systems' WebLogic, as well as Oracle's application server. Less clear is whether Fusion will support other databases. Fusion applications are being developed to take advantage of capabilities in the Oracle database, such as materialized views and features that minimize downtime. That tight integration could make Fusion incompatible with IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server, though there's reason to be hopeful. Oracle president Charles Phillips last month indicated Oracle is talking to the other database vendors about Fusion support. Says Oracle senior VP John Wookey, "We're really not rushing to make that decision."