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Oracle forced migration fears a matter of education, OAUG says

Many Siebel and PeopleSoft users continue to fear a forced migration to Oracle's upcoming Fusion application suite, according to a new OAUG survey.

Despite Oracle's best attempts to convince them otherwise, a majority of PeopleSoft Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. users questioned in a recent survey continue to fear forced migration to Oracle's upcoming Jan Wagner, president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) , says those fears are unfounded.

The survey of 449 OAUG members -- conducted last October in conjunction with Unisphere Media -- found that 61% of PeopleSoft and Siebel users believe Oracle will one day force them to migrate to Fusion, while 55% of all Oracle customers believe the database and business application giant's product roadmap is at least "somewhat clear."

Oracle, which has scooped up more than 30 software firms since 2003, acquired PeopleSoft and Siebel to ramp up its customer relationship management and business intelligence offerings. Oracle officials -- citing the company's Applications Unlimited program -- have repeatedly promised not to force Siebel and PeopleSoft users onto Fusion, which promises to combine "the best" spoils of Oracle's acquisitions in a single, service-enabled platform. The  

"I think it's a matter of education and knowledge, and I'm glad we did this survey because it gives us an instrument to serve our members a lot better and see where we need to focus," Wagner said. "I think this is just an indication of a communication issue."

Will time heal open wounds?

Forced migration fears are perfectly natural following any major acquisition or merger, but it's particularly understandable in the case of PeopleSoft users, who watched for more than a year as their software vendor resisted Oracle's hostile takeover in court, one Oracle end user said.

Dan Reick, an Oracle business systems administrator with Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc., an Edina, Minn.-based manufacturer of customized employee training materials, says it wouldn't be surprising if some animosity against Oracle trickled down from PeopleSoft executives to PeopleSoft customers.

"But time moves on, and as long as Oracle continues at its present rate of not pushing anyone, I would expect the forced migration fears to go away," said Reick, whose company runs Oracle E-Business Suite 11i.

The middleware dilemma

Better communication may also be the key when it comes to Oracle's Fusion Middleware Suite. Not to be mistaken for the upcoming Fusion application suite, the already available Fusion Middleware offering consists of myriad products meant to serve as a stepping stone to the new application platform.

According to the survey, the majority of Oracle-based enterprises intend to upgrade to Oracle's Fusion middleware infrastructure within the next two years, while two out of every five Oracle-based enterprises plan to increase spending on middleware in 2008. Despite these plans, however, the survey also found that many Oracle users still aren't clear on middleware's true value to their organizations.

In Wagner's personal experience conducting sessions at OAUG conferences, some of the middleware confusion centers on the fact that many IT workers don't know which Oracle products are considered to be Fusion middleware, he said, while many others don't understand how those products fit into Oracle's larger application plans.

"If you ask people if they're on a path to Fusion, a lot of them say, 'No, we haven't done anything,' but many have actually adopted some of the Fusion middleware products without actually knowing that they are on the path to Fusion," Wagner said. "I shouldn't generalize, of course, because it depends on who you talk to. If it's the core DBA or the CIO of the company, I'm sure they know what they've implemented -- absolutely."

OAUG reacts

In response to the survey results, the OAUG says it will focus more on Oracle product roadmap education at its upcoming training sessions, including its Fusion Middleware Boot Camp program, which launched last year.

"We are coming up with some [new] tools to make sure that people have the knowledge," Wagner said. "We will continue that in 2008 on the application side and on the middleware."

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