Oracle execs talk up Fusion plans

By Stacy Cowley, IDG News Service |  Software

Two top Oracle Corp. executives met with analysts and customers in New York on Monday as part of an Oracle road show aimed at reassuring those nervous about Oracle's recent buying spree and its plans for a merged applications set, dubbed Fusion, incorporating its purchases.

"I know you're all wondering: is there some strategy behind all this bizarre behavior over the last six months, us buying all these companies, or is it just Oracle being Oracle?" company President Charles Phillips said at the event's start.

Phillips and John Wookey, Oracle's applications development head, reiterated the points Oracle first laid out in January, when it introduced its Fusion road map. Oracle will deliver one more major update, due in 2006, in each of its three applications lines -- its own E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, and EnterpriseOne (formerly J.D. Edwards) -- and release an applications set built on a new, Java-based architecture, Fusion, in 2008. Customers on all of the product lines will be able to smoothly upgrade to Fusion without any greater pain than they encounter in a standard applications upgrade, executives said.

Since unveiling their Fusion plans, Oracle executives have taken great care to deliver a consistent message about their PeopleSoft support plans -- mindful that before the contentious merger went through, PeopleSoft's customers were confused and upset about the uncertain future of their ERP (enterprise resource planning) technology. Still, when it comes to specifics of how Oracle will blend its heterogeneous applications architectures, the answer is often "still to be determined."

One customer at Monday's event asked how Oracle would reconcile a difference in database support. Because PeopleSoft supports a number of different databases, it stores much of its business logic elsewhere, while Oracle builds most of its business logic into the database layer. Phillips said Oracle is in the process of talking with customers about its options, and will make a decision later.

"We decided to see how important that is to customers," Phillips said. "We can do a lot more for you if we can optimize and take advantage [of the database]. We can't do that for an unlimited number of [database] configurations." Wookey said Oracle is looking to push more business logic into the middleware layer, potentially ameliorating the problem.

Oracle will also limit its bundled database with Fusion to its own software -- it won't offer IBM Corp.'s DB2, as it has in the past. It will instead work with IBM and other database vendors to certify their products for use with Fusion applications.

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