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Oracle expands Project Fusion

The company pledges new and improved support for its J.D. Edwards World customers.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Applause broke out in the Moscone Center Tuesday when John Wookey, Oracle's senior vice president of application development, announced that the company is extending support for J.D. Edwards World customers migrating to Fusion.

In January, Oracle Corp. unveiled its plan for Project Fusion, an effort that will bring together the best technologies of Oracle's recent acquisitions under one open, standards-based architecture. Applications from PeopleSoft Inc., J.D. Edwards & Co. and Retek Inc. will all be brought together under one suite, with the first applications expected to be available in 2007. Now, a week after revealing that it plans to purchase Siebel Systems Inc., a market leader for enterprise CRM, for $5.85 billion, Oracle is extending support and migration paths for customers still running the older technology.

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Along with customers running PeopleSoft Enterprise 8.9 and 9.0, customers on 8.8 will be able to upgrade directly to Fusion. Additionally, J.D. Edwards customers are now a part of the path toward Fusion, with extended support for EnterpriseOne XE and 8.0 through 2013.

Following its acquisition of PeopleSoft -- and the J.D. Edwards business that PeopleSoft had acquired itself just a year before -- Oracle spoke with customers and heard three consistent questions about its integration plans, Wookey said. Customers wanted to know, "Can I stay and will you support me," "Can I get additional value" and "Can I move forward when I'm ready."

"The simple answer to these questions is yes," Wookey said, in an address at Oracle OpenWorld. "We are going to support your applications, and the next releases are going to focus on the areas that have the best incremental business benefit. As we evolve to the next generation, we are very focused on how we bring our customers with us."

Next year will see the releases of EnterpriseOne version 8.12, EnterpriseWorld version A9, PeopleSoft Enterprise version 9 with CRM and employee performance management, and Oracle E-Business Suite version 12.

Miami-based Lennar Corp. runs EnterpriseOne in one of its divisions and EnterpriseWorld 7.3 Q9 (formerly J.D. Edwards World) throughout the rest of the organization. Lennar has held off on migrating more of the company to EnterpriseOne until it has a clearer understanding of Fusion, and because of the customization it has done. Tuesday's news was encouraging.

"I was impressed," Nick Renteria, project manager with Lennar, said of Wookey's keynote. "I think this is positive news."

Similarly, MSC Industrial Direct Co. Inc., in Melville, N.Y., has held off on upgrades. In fact the company upgraded to World version 7.3 Q13 about a year and a half ago.

"The fact that they'll support us to 2013 is important," said Iris Martinez, financial systems analyst. "That was one of the concerns we'd had."

Once the Siebel deal is approved and completed, Oracle will have another set of applications to meld into Project Fusion. Wookey said that process should be made easier because Siebel had already embarked on an initiative to create a component assembly and standards-based architecture similar to Fusion. "The people building that at Siebel came from Oracle 10 years ago, so we know something about the way they think," Wookey said. "There are some things they've done that we find interesting that we'll include that without changing the timeline."

Additionally, Oracle is excited about adding Siebel's CRM applications that have different strengths and weaknesses, particularly with its deep vertical expertise, Wookey said. Oracle also has high hopes for on-demand applications, Wookey noted. On-demand has been Oracle's fastest growing business since 1999, and Siebel has its own fast-growing OnDemand CRM application.

"We're very excited about the model," Wookey said. "Siebel took off with multi-tenancy, but they're getting a lot more interest in single tenancy. We're getting very efficient at single tenancy. We've been surprised because the customers come from across the Oracle application spectrum." Applications built on multi-tenant architectures, like those of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com and Bozeman, Mont.-based RightNow Technologies Inc., allow companies to run their company's IT on the same hosted system. It appears Oracle is in no rush to offer that type of software.

"As we get to the point where we want to move into the small and midsized business market, we'll explore that further, but it hasn't been a critical issue in growing our business," Wookey said.

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