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Oracle's Customer Crusade

Company outlines ambitious program to develop a suite of merged software.
John Wookey, an Oracle senior VP, will lead an application strategy team to align future releases of PeopleSoft Enterprise, J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne and World, and Oracle's E-Business Suite on a common platform. Under the Project Fusion road map, Oracle will develop a single set of applications to replace current Oracle, PeopleSoft, and J.D. Edwards software. Individual applications from Project Fusion will be available starting in 2007, with a complete suite promised by 2008.

"We're trying to combine the functionality and the ideas, [but] we're not meshing actual code together," Phillips said. "We're looking at all the assets we have across all the products and saying, 'These are good ideas. Let's make sure these ideas show up in the Fusion products.'"

Oracle's biggest focus will be on Project Fusion, Larry Ellison says.

Oracle's biggest focus will be on Project Fusion, Larry Ellison says.
While Fusion is in the works, Oracle will continue developing the next releases of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards software, PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0 and J.D. Edwards 8.12, for release next year. Development of version 12 of Oracle's E-Business Suite also will continue for a 2006 release.

Oracle's commitment to support older versions of J.D. Edwards' applications is an "olive branch" to J.D. Edwards customers, says Robert Robinson, business system supervisor at manufacturing equipment maker Durr Industries Inc. and VP of the Big 10 Users Group, a PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards user group. However, SAP's moves intrigue Robinson, given that Durr Industries' German parent uses SAP and has urged its U.S. subsidiary to consider converting. "We have a lot to consider," Robinson says. "I'm in a quandary. It's like watching a game of chess between two grand masters." The TomorrowNow acquisition increases SAP's appeal, he adds.

Oracle faces the complexity of maintaining Oracle, PeopleSoft, and J.D. Edwards code bases while developing Fusion architecture, Wachovia Securities analyst Kash Rangan says. SAP already has begun its Project Vienna, targeted for 2007 to 2008, which also is expected to fully support a services-oriented architecture. "SAP has a two- to three-year headstart in the race to deliver the next-generation application suite," Rangan wrote in a report last week.

Oracle's moves could strengthen its relationship with IBM, particularly with its Global Services division, which implements Oracle and PeopleSoft apps.

Oracle sells its own infrastructure software, including its application server and database, the default underlying technology for all of its applications. But the company will continue certifying application compatibility with other leading platforms such as IBM's WebSphere, Phillips said. "I think the worry over vendor lock-in is overblown compared to the worry about the cost of integration," he said.

PeopleSoft had a lot of loyal customers like Manpower and the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and Oracle has its work cut out to keep them in the Oracle fold and convince them to migrate to Fusion when it's ready. Says the housing authority's Greene, "To get us to leave the PeopleSoft platform, Oracle is going to have to offer us something better."

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