PeopleSoft users attending the Collaborate '07 Oracle database and business applications conference in Las Vegas last week got some sage advice on how to get ready for Fusion -- Oracle's plan to combine the "best" technological spoils of nearly 30 acquisitions in three years onto a single, service-enabled platform.
The first round of Oracle Fusion applications are due out in 2008, and under Oracle's Applications Unlimited program, which promises continued enhancements to all of Oracle's newly acquired applications, PeopleSoft users will not be forced to migrate.
But PeopleSoft users may want to migrate to Fusion down the road, and preparing for that day means keeping up to date with the latest PeopleSoft releases and getting IT environments ready for service-oriented architecture (SOA), increased Java development and other "next-generation" technologies, Greg Kelly, an Oracle-PeopleSoft product strategy manager, told the roomful of Collaborate '07 attendees.
Conference attendee Lorne Kaufman, the managing director of System Efficiency, a Glen Allen, Va.-based systems integrator and PeopleSoft consultancy, said it wasn't surprising that so many showed up to Kelly's presentation, given the growing number of questions that PeopleSoft users have about Fusion.
With the release of Oracle Fusion Middleware -- the Java-based technology upon which all Oracle Fusion applications will run -- Kaufman said he saw a good amount of confusion among PeopleSoft users. They simply weren't sure how to decipher Oracle's product roadmap and differentiate between Fusion middleware and Fusion the soon-to-be-released applications. But, Kaufman added, events like Collaborate '07 help to clear the air, and PeopleSoft users are starting to warm up to the value propositions of both.
"There are early adopters and there are people who will wait for the paint to dry before they decide to move into that type of application," Kaufman said. "[But] in our experience, I think people are embracing what Fusion will have to offer, as opposed to a year and a half or two years ago after [Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft] when it was 'our way or the highway.'"
Ten steps to Oracle Fusion
According to Kelly, here are ten steps that PeopleSoft users can take to get ready for the move to Oracle Fusion:
1. Determine business drivers:
First figure out exactly what the reasons are for migrating to Fusion and begin building a business case. Kelly said business drivers for migrating to Fusion vary widely and can include anything from wanting to leverage Web 2.0 collaboration technologies such as blogs and wikis to wanting to leverage the reusable aspects of a SOA. Determining business drivers will also help users assess what they have in-house and effectively build their Fusion architecture around existing investments.
2. Prepare a Fusion migration plan:
A Fusion migration plan should include short-term, medium-term and long-term goals and should incorporate the process of developing in-house Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) expertise. J2EE knowledge is the key to thriving in an SOA-based environment, he said.
3. Inventory customizations:
Kelly said it's important to take an inventory of every PeopleSoft-related application customization, document what they are and who built them, determine if they're still in use or obsolete, and decide if there is value in keeping them. This process also helps aid in getting the most out of existing investments.
4. Train staff:
In addition to developing J2EE expertise, Kelly said PeopleSoft users migrating to Fusion will also want to school IT employees in SOA-related technologies such as the Oracle Application Server. Experience with grid computing and Business Process Execution Language for creating cross-application workflows is also important.
5. Stay current:
The latest versions of PeopleSoft software include PeopleSoft Enterprise 9 and PeopleSoft Tools 8.48. Kelly said they're considered to be "extended-value releases" because they offer key Fusion-related capabilities, such as support for Web services and business flow orchestration.
6. Adopt Oracle Fusion Middleware:
Oracle is currently integrating PeopleSoft products to run on Oracle Fusion Middleware, Kelly said.
7. Consider grid computing:
Kelly said grid computing technology will help PeopleSoft users get the most out of Fusion while at the same time serving as an answer to high hardware and software costs, fragmented security, high systems management costs and intricate information management.
8. Leverage SOA-based integration:
Making use of Web services and SOA techniques to integrate PeopleSoft and other Oracle applications will put firms in a better position to leverage the Fusion application platform. Kelly said this step also aids in the previously mentioned process of documenting customizations and integration points. Remember, Kelly said, PeopleSoft Tool 8.46 includes a utility that converts public and private interfaces to loosely coupled Web services.
9. Use next-generation technologies today:
Using "next-generation technologies today" means getting outside of your comfort zone, explained System Efficiency's Kaufman. For instance, he said, use XML as opposed to COBOL or SQR, "which is an old technology, but people use it because they know it and because people fear change," he said. Kelly said other next-generation technologies that PeopleSoft users should start employing include Oracle's master data management, Fusion Analytics and Enterprise Manager technologies. "Enterprise Manager will manage the Oracle environment and presents it in a number of different ways," Kelly said.
10. Launch a pilot project using the Application Developer Framework (ADF):
As part of the process of creating a foundation for Java developers, Kelly said it's important to download ADF or its JDeveloper component, which can be downloaded independently and as a standalone product. ADF will serve as the integrated development environment, or IDE, for Fusion developers. "ADF provides a platform that you can use to deliver functionality within a PeopleSoft environment," he said.