End of support drives Oracle application upgrades, says survey

Mark Fontecchio

Almost three-fourths of Oracle application users say that “end of support” is the compelling reason for an Oracle application upgrade, according to a recent survey.

According to experts, the high response indicates that Oracle application pros are migrating to new versions before they find it technologically necessary – that is, they don’t need new functionality but don’t want to be off support. The next most popular reason on the list was better functionality, at 40%. The survey by the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) of 327 enterprise and application business managers was taken in November. It was done for the OAUG by Unisphere Research, and was sponsored by Oracle.

OAUG President Mark Clark said the recent struggling economy has led some companies to put off Oracle application upgrades.

“There are a lot of companies that wanted to go up to R12, but in the economic downturn they didn’t have the staff or money to do it,” he said. “Sometimes upgrades don’t make the cut for projects that need to be undertaken.”

Most of the survey takers were E-Business Suite users, with only 11% using PeopleSoft and 2% running JD Edwards.

Seth Ravin, CEO of Oracle third-party support provider Rimini Street, likened the resistance to desktop computer users.

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“We always grumble when we get a new version of (Microsoft) Office or Word,” he said. “We generally like to use what works and what we’re used to.”

That said, the survey indicated that most Oracle pros are upgrading their applications, with 80% either upgrading now or planning to in the next two years. Clark said the OAUG is planning educational events for members who are upgrading to R12. Collaborate is in April, and the OAUG has run several smaller regional events as well.

Ravin said that Rimini Street is signing new deals with some customers for products that came out in the late 1990s. Rimini Street guarantees 10 years of support, so that means it could be supporting 20-year-old Oracle applications by the time those contracts are up. Ravin argues that most customers are “extremely happy” with the Oracle applications they’re running, and that’s a testament to how well-built they are. So they’re looking to extend their existing investment as much as possible.

Ravin added that Oracle has extended support windows numerous times, which he thinks is an indication that Oracle doesn’t want to leave customers behind by forcing them to upgrade when they’re not ready. One example was in December, when Oracle announced that it would waive the extended support fee for E-Business Suite 11i for another two years.

Clark agreed that the strength and stability of previous Oracle applications leads IT pros to stick with them as long as they can.

“I was working with versions of 11i in the year 2000,” he said. “Now it’s the year 2012 and people are still on 11i. It was a stable release and had a lot of features and functions to it.”

Other findings from the survey:

  • The highest anticipated benefits for enterprise application upgrades included access to new functionality and improved performance, both at 48%.
  • 71% said their applications are deployed on-premise and they plan to keep them on-premise.
  • Top application upgrade risks included testing at 63%, limited staff at 61%, and maintaining customizations at 50%.

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