Dialling up Fusion Applications

ORACLE has further enhanced its suite of Fusion Applications. First announced in 2007, these are a suite of business intelligence applications made up of solutions it inherited from acquiring companies PeopleSoft, Siebel and JDEdwards.

These applications can either be delivered via software-as-a-service or as an on-premises solution.

Prior to being acquired by Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel and JDEdwards dealt in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management and Human Resource Management systems.

“We’ll be bringing together the best features from PeopleSoft, Siebel and JDEdwards, and will implement them on top of a modern middleware infrastructure that is written in Java,” said Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison at OpenWorld.

Each of these applications used to run on its own custom middleware and Oracle had to build different standards of middleware for its customers to support these applications.

“We had two separate middleware teams building different products, which was a complete duplication of effort. One aimed at our applications, the other aimed to support our customers’ custom applications,” he said.

Oracle decided to change this and streamlined on industry-standard Java middleware technology. According to Ellison, Fusion Applications running on industry-standard middleware is the first of its kind in the market. “Nobody until now has successfully built large-scale ERP applications on top of industry-standard middleware,” he said.

Running on standard middleware will also simplify matters for technicians and business users, he said, adding that if a technician knows Java, he or she will also know how to run Fusion Applications, or at the least are on their way to knowing.

“It’s not an exotic language like SQL forms was for Oracle e-Business Suite, or like ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) is for SAP. There are no proprietary language in this,” he said.

Streamlining on industry-standard middleware also allows Fusion Applications to integrate easily with other solutions in the market, like SAP for example.

Business intelligence

Ellison said Fusion Applications is more than about processing purchase orders. “It’s about figuring out who are your best vendors, who delivers on time at the lowest cost .... Automating this process is different from providing insights into who I should be buying from,” he explained.

He said Fusion Applications is made to manage and understand all business processes, from sales to procurement, and when it becomes generally available next year, customers will have about 100 applications to choose from.

These business-intelligence-centric applications, Ellison said, raise issues in a particular business and lets the organisations understand what they need to do to hit those sales targets and who to collaborate with to do so.

“These collaborations are all built-in because business intelligence will help you get what you want. This is very different from ERP systems that merely process purchase requests,” he said.

Fusion Applications are also designed to be user friendly and Ellison promised that they will be as easy to navigate as a Facebook page.

He said Fusion Applications had gone through side-by-side testing with rival products and that Oracle worked with customers to get their feedback.

“If it takes say 20 clicks to complete a process on a competitors’ product, we won’t be happy until it takes about 15 to do the same thing on Fusion Applications,” he said.

But even after reiterating how great an addition Fusion Applications will be to businesses, Ellison isn’t calling on them to rush off to the nearest Oracle distributor to have them installed. “You can move to Fusion Applications when you want to. Every company has its priorities,” he said.

But even with a controlled release, Ellison reckons there will be about 100 early adopters and predicts that it will gain mass appeal over the next five years.

Ellison said Oracle will continue to do more tests on Fusion Applications to keep them current.

“We’ve already spent about US$4bil (RM13bil) in R&D to finish and enhance Fusion Applications but we will continue to make enhancements,” he said.

Oracle will be delivering these applications to customers at year end, and will make them generally available in the next quarter.­ — JO TIMBUONG

Related Stories: Oracle boxes up the cloud What’s in store for Java

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