About face: The re-architecting of Oracle's Fusion strategy

Oracle announced a major shift in its strategy today [see News.com report], signaling a significant change in how the company will be dealing with its PeopleSoft, J.

Oracle announced a major shift in its strategy today [see News.com report], signaling a significant change in how the company will be dealing with its PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and Siebel customers over the coming years. Gone is the notion that each of these former company’s code lines are dead-ends: Oracle is now going to do significant functional enhancements to each product line, and is effectively promising a PeopleSoft 10, a Siebel 9, a JDE 10, and so on into the future.

This is a stunning recognition that customers weren’t necessarily ready to sign on to Oracle’s Fusion Applications vision, certainly not by its intended delivery date some time in 2008. It’s obvious that the move to retain the individual product lines, while continuing to promise a Fusion Applications delivery in 2008, is meant to stem the tide of defections to SAP, Microsoft, and other rivals.

But there’s a couple of gotchas here for customers looking for PeopleSoft 10 or Siebel 9. Neither product could possibly see the light of day before 2009 at a minimum, if not longer. Which means, if Oracle meets its Fusion Applications timeline, you’ll be forgoing existing Fusion functionality in order to wait on your new PeopleSoft or Siebel or JDE code. That may not be worth the wait. And, even so, your wait may be in vain: If there aren’t enough users to cost justify the enhancement you need, Oracle won’t put it in your code line. Which means you may end up on Fusion – or someone else’s code – anyway.

By and large this is still a positive move for Oracle’s "legacy" customers – and evidence that skipper Larry Ellison knows how to turn his ship around when the seas get too rough. There are still a lot of details to be fleshed out, but one thing is clear: Oracle’s Fusion Applications plans continue to evolve, and the Oracle is still capable of a surprising move or two. And of listening to its customers, which is always a brilliant idea.

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