This content is part of the Essential Guide: Oracle cloud architecture push spawns new tools, issues for users

The evolution of Oracle Fusion Cloud Services

Robert Sheldon explains the history of Oracle Fusion Applications and the important choice between software-as-a-service and on-premises deployment.

Over seven years ago, Oracle embarked on a mission to rewrite and modernize its applications. It invested billions of dollars and dedicated thousands of developers and acquired JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Seibel. In the fall of 2011, the company released its line of Fusion Applications, seven enterprise-grade product suites that addressed financials, procurement and human capital management.

Fusion Applications were designed from the ground up based on open standards, making it possible for them to coexist with legacy Oracle products. Fusion Applications can also take full advantage of Fusion Middleware capabilities, providing for applications that can span complete business processes with a consistent user experience.

Fusion Applications have simpler, more user-friendly user interfaces. In addition, Oracle embedded social networking capabilities directly into business processes.

Fusion Applications also provide mobility capabilities that support both real-time and offline data access. Organizations can use Fusion's open standards to build custom mobile apps. Fusion Applications have business intelligence features for collecting data on individual application transactions built in.

Oracle software-as-a-service

Fusion Applications have been built to support two delivery models: on-premises and cloud services. Fusion Applications are Oracle's first applications to be designed specifically to provide cloud-based delivery, while still offering the same native functionality available in the on-premises products.

As with any software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, Fusion's cloud services promise faster implementation times with fewer implementation headaches. In addition, start-up costs are lower, as are the demands on internal resources. SaaS also offers the capacity to upgrade without IT having to coordinate a complex upgrade processes or invest in rapidly-obsolescing software. Cloud solutions provide a flexible, scalable infrastructure that expands and contracts to meet changing needs.

You can deploy Fusion cloud applications in a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud, as well as a private cloud built and managed by Oracle through Oracle Cloud Services. In addition, Fusion services can coexist with your existing Oracle systems.

One of the challenges with on-premises Fusion Applications is that installing them can represent a complex undertaking, especially if you don't have the in-house expertise. Fusion Applications require a multilayered security framework added on top of an extensive collection of Oracle middleware. The resources necessary to pull off such a solution can be both costly and time-consuming.

By going with cloud-based services, you turn many of your implementation challenges over to Oracle.

Convenience comes at a price. Oracle's subscription pricing is fairly steep. Oracle has been early to the market with many of its offerings, putting it into a position to reduce competition and push up subscription rates. On the other hand, Fusion SaaS comes with a level of cloud portability and the ability to switch cloud networks, which can help address changing business needs.

Oracle Fusion services

The Fusion SaaS offerings can be divided into four primary service categories: Human Capital Management Service, Customer Relationship Management Service, Enterprise Resource Planning Service and Enterprise Performance Management Service. For each category, Oracle offers one or more services, and for each service, supports one or more modules.

For example, the Human Capital Management Service category includes about a dozen services. One of those services is Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management Base Cloud Service-Hosted Employee. Customers who subscribe to the service currently have access to seven human capital management-related modules, including Oracle Fusion Global Human Resources, Oracle Fusion Network at Work, Oracle Fusion Absence Management and Oracle Fusion Benefits.

In addition to the basic four categories of service types, the Fusion cloud services also include Oracle Cloud Priority Service and a number of add-on services, such as the Oracle Fusion Additional Storage Cloud Service and the Oracle Additional Test Environment for Oracle Fusion CRM Cloud Service.

Oracle Fusion cloud services

Oracle has positioned itself well in the SaaS market with many of its cloud application offerings and the company will only continue to invest in its cloud portfolio. That said, other companies are adding cloud-based services to the mix every day, many of which specialize in specific functional areas or cover areas Oracle has missed. Often the services come with lower price tags and without the possibility of vendor-lock. However, the open-standards nature of Fusion Applications and their ability to integrate with legacy systems, while supporting modular implementation strategies, make them a worthwhile consideration for the company looking to update or expand its operations, especially if the company has already invested heavily in Oracle products.

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