Larry Ellison, the swashbuckling buccaneer and yachtsman of the consolidating enterprise software industry, left it to his chief lieutenant and deal maker Charles Phillips to kick off Oracle Open World at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. One of high-tech Oracle/BMW racing yachts--Ellison's preferred sailing vessel--spanned the floor at the Moscone North entrance to the keynotes. I expected it to be decorated with the flags of Oracle’s latest conquests--six in the last nine months, including J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft, Retek, and most recently, and as yet unconsummated, Siebel--and renamed 'Fusion."
Phillips outlined the latest iteration of Oracle’s philosophy [video clip] as it deals with digesting multiple companies at once before a packed house. An estimated 35,000 customers, partners, vendors and press for the growing Oracle portfolio registered for the event, Phillips said.
The big news for customers was committing to sustaining, meaning no time limit, support for the product portfolio. It’s part of a new three word mantra: Protect, Extend, Evolve. “First, while making changes and innovating, we don’t want to forget to protect existing investments. Extending applications gives more value for what they are already using. We are evolving the technology to the next generation at a reasonable pace and giving you the choice of having it now or waiting,” Phillips said.
The next generation is the Oracle Fusion Architecture (OFA), breaking all the applications into service-enabled components. Chief competitor SAP has the same idea (although a less complicated product set), as does every other company that wants to exist in the next decade. OFA is model driven, services and event enabled, standards based, information centric and grid ready, Phillips said. It’s the Oracle stack reengineered top to bottom for SOA.
The massive reengineering effort, called Project Fusion, will “fuse the best of breed of all the functions and feature and turns those into services so you can build composite applications,” Phillips said. Oracle plans to turn its business flows (process schemas) into services that will be available in the Fusion service directory. The fused and service-enabled components will start rolling out in 2007 and major elements, such as financials and accounting, in 2008, Phillips said. Oracle hasn’t yet figured out the pricing model for Fusion products, but Phillips said they may sell by business flow (a set of components for a particular business process) or per component.
In the name of openness and good business sense, Phillips announced that the Fusion applications will work with IBM’s WebSphere middleware. In fact, Phillips and other executives sounded more like Sun executives, talking about how they are more open standards- based than competitors, and willing to compete on implementation.
However, Phillips was cagey about support for multiple databases, such as DB2 or Microsoft SQL Server, for Fusion. He said that Oracle will take input from a Fusion Strategy Council and make a decision in “hopefully under a year,” but that database internals and optimizations were less standard than middleware. Regarding whether Oracle would eliminate DB2 as the database for Siebel On Demand, Phillips dodged the question. “We don’t know enough about the on demand service. Whether we re-host and try to do it more efficiently, we’ll look at the appropriate time once we own it.”
A few predictions: Fusion applications/components will always run better on Oracle’s database. Oracle isn't done shopping...