Gartner has released a research note covering the departure of John Wookey and the subsequent reorganization of the Fusion team. In our Irregulars Google Group, Josh Greenbaum said that whatever happens at the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld event, the company would likely spin the story. Gartner seems to confirm this, noting that:
We don't think there will be a delay in delivery, but Oracle has left enough room in its communications for a change in the breadth and depth of the initial release.
More interesting was the acknowledgment that:
Will there be a change from Fusion Applications being a full-suite replacement to a coexistence strategy where Fusion Applications will become another product line integrated with installed applications via middleware? In conversations following the management change, Oracle stated that this was in fact the strategy – the first time Oracle has publicly said so. Although users may like this strategy, it will take many customers years to realize a full-suite service-oriented-architecture-based set of applications. In the meantime, Oracle's commitment to its Applications Unlimited plan and its Applications Integration Architecture (AIA) platform will likely remain intact. (my italicized emphasis added)
Questions remain. At the time of Wookey's departure, Vinnie Mirchandani asked:
...customers should again ask - if all we will get is tweaks to existing product, and Fusion apps will take a while to be rolled out, why exactly are we paying Oracle full maintenance?
This was not something Gartner chose to ask and in my opinion missed a golden opportunity on which to seek clarification over what looks like an extended period of uncertainty.
As might be expected, Gartner's upgrade advice is tinged with caution but is less than laser sharp. Those with long memories will likely remember the pain of the 10.7 to 11i upgrade in the 2000-1 time frame. Relationships with customers were at best tetchy and at worst acrimonious. Then, Gartner noted:
In Gartner's opinion, Oracle’s deteriorating relationship with its customer base hit a low in 2001 when Oracle pulled its support from the OAUG conference sponsored by its users and declared that it would halt support for 10.7 in June 2002 (subsequently pushed back to December 2002) even though Oracle 11i continued to suffer from substantial quality problems.
Caveats about quality will apply when Fusion finally emerges. What's more, managing Fusion could be an order of magnitude more complex requiring companies to juggle middleware integrations plus reworked applications, many of which will carry customizations that need rework. Oracle may use this as a justification for holding the line on maintenance costs. Those with long memories will not be so forgiving.