Oracle announces portlets at user conference

With fences mended between Oracle Corp. and the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), Cliff Godwin, senior vice-president for applications technology at Oracle, was the unscheduled but much welcomed speaker during the morning session of the OAUG 2001 Fall Conference.

Godwin used the OAUG as a platform to make several announcements, the most significant of which was the upcoming rollout of prepackaged portlets that can be integrated into Oracle’s Universal Portal, part of the 11i application suite.

The Universal Portal allows users to create a personalized “dashboard” with links to company content as well as to what Godwin called “federated” content such as news or financial feeds.

“We finally got the right technology to bring together all the supporting information from the enterprise and from other applications as well,” Godwin said.

The portlet feature will sit inside the Universal Portal and will be sold by Oracle as preconfigured packages that include key business functions and metrics for specific disciplines and industries.

Using business intelligence metrics for decision support, the portlets will take live data coming from the company’s system and measure it against a performance framework with targets set by the user.

“If I am outside the range, I can get alerted,” Godwin said.

The portlets will also include a “management by exception” alerting system to notify others when an indicator goes out of tolerance as well as the ability to drill down to get supporting information to discover why the alert was sent.

During the next year, Oracle will roll out hundreds of these prepackaged portlets for manufacturing, finance, and other industries and will include “planning performance, production quality, contract savings, and contract leakage,” Godwin said.

Godwin also announced that Version 11.5.6 of 11i is being released now. “This version contains all of the fixes needed for a substantial portion of our customers to go live,” Godwin said.

Currently, there are 1,000 live sites worldwide, Godwin said as he laid out for the user group an additional road map for forthcoming 11i features. Version 11.6 will include the CRM (customer relationship management) Family pack and be available in December. In January 2002, the company will roll out a combined maintenance pack and new version of its Rapid Install utility.

A new feature of the next version of Rapid Install will be the ability to search through all of the applications to find what components and patches are currently in use in order to make recommendations to a database administrator of steps that need to be taken before applications are upgraded.

Godwin concluded his remarks with a plea to the audience to consider the somewhat controversial proposal from Oracle chief Larry Ellison that users should build their entire company on a single Oracle database as a way to reduce costs by reducing the need for data integration, database administrators, the need for multiple data centers, and a reduction in the hardware.

The president of the OAUG, Jeremy Young, who is also the business process manager for finance at San Francisco-based DHL Worldwide Express, said that there were pluses as well as minuses to the concept.

“There is only one system to look after. But the thing that people are concerned about is putting all your eggs in one basket. I am sure companies have disaster recovery in place, but what happens when you have to upgrade? Do you need to bring the entire system down? It is a balancing act,” Young said.