Oracle OpenWorld – Fusion antidote to ERP confusion, says Oracle president


Oracle Corp. president Charles Phillips flagged off Oracle OracleWorld 2006 on Sunday promising that his company is well on its way to completely redefining how people view enterprise software.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle, he said, is engineering a technology stack around middleware, databases and applications that will resolve the biggest and most long lasting problem in the enterprise software space: that of complex, incompatible systems. “There’s a joke that it’s harder to get these apps to work together than to get the United Nations to cooperate – but in the end the joke’s on the customer.”

Oracle’s Fusion Architecture is the antidote to the problem of complex, discordant systems, Phillips told attendees at his keynote held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. “It changes the customer experience.”

“Enriching the customer experience” is the overriding motif that informs his company’s acquisition strategy, Phillips said. “We buy companies with world class technology – and add then add value to that technology.” Oracle has spent more than US$20 billion in acquisitions over the past few years.

Phillips cited several examples of what he called the Oracle value-add:

Quality assurance and testing – At Oracle’s data centre in Austen, Texas, he said, thousands of severs test acquired companies products to ensure they are truly best in class;

International market exposure – “Many products aren’t ready for international market. We get them there providing multicurrency support and several other features”;

New capabilities – Acquired companies’ products have been enhanced with SOA capabilities, identity management and several other features that “these companies could never have built on their own,” Phillips said. These are enhancements their customers have been clamouring for – but never got until the company was acquired by Oracle;

Global support – He said Oracle plugged the applications of some of the smaller companies it has acquired into Oracle’s global support infrastructure.

He said – on their part – the acquired companies have offered their proven R&D to Oracle. “These companies invested in R&D that worked. They’ve brought [to Oracle] their specialized expertise around a broad range of products and industries – and that list is growing every quarter.”

On that note, Phillips emphasized that Oracle’s industry strategy is not just an extension to ERP. “Instead, we’re getting best industry processes to customers – and that’s crucial to C-level executives, as these best practices drive revenues.” He said each of these industries has their own club, and Oracle has created separate global industry units for communications, retail and other sectors.

Oracle can afford to do all this, he said, because it has simplified its own organization. “We cleaned up our back office and are now running [the entire company] on a single global instance of Oracle.”

At the heart of Oracle’s success, he said, is its umbrella strategy. “Basically, we have a core technology foundation – middleware and database – and the range of applications harnesses the capabilities of that stack.” From the customer’s standpoint this umbrella strategy offers several dramatic advantages, the Oracle president said. “We can monitor end user response time and collect configurations across the stack quickly as the entire stack is ours.” He said in future hot deployment of patches with no downtime whatsoever will be possible. “That’s the value of a reengineered stack.”

Other customer benefits from this strategy include: easier testing and debugging of applications (as there’s a single tool to visually debug and test across all processes), comprehensive compliance and better support management.

On the issue of support, Phillips said Oracle would be announcing the availability of Configuration Support Manager on Monday – a new tool that will significantly improve the issue resolution process. The tool, which will allows customers to track and manage support of their Oracle environment can lead to 40 per cent faster issue resolution, Phillips said. And the kicker: “It’s part of your support package; it doesn’t cost extra.”