Oracle to extend support for J.D. Edwards iSeries apps

Oracle Corp. this week is expected to announce plans to continue upgrading and supporting J.D. Edwards applications running on IBM’s iSeries platform beyond 2013. The move is part of an Oracle effort to reassure the 5,000 or so users inherited with its acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc. who run applications on IBM hardware.

The announcement is expected during the Collaborate 2006 user conference in Nashville this week. At the time of the acquisition in 2004, Oracle had pledged to support iSeries-based World and Enterprise-One applications through 2013.

Several new Oracle users had questioned whether support for the iSeries would continue long after the acquisition, since Oracle and IBM are strong rivals in the database business.

Some users had feared that Oracle’s next-generation middleware technology, called Fusion, would lead to an effort to wean World and EnterpriseOne users off of IBM hardware, databases and middleware.

Lenley Hensarling, Oracle vice president and general manager of J.D. Edwards EnterpriseOne products, last week said Oracle will continue to support the iSeries-based applications as long as the business remains viable.

“Some of those that are on the iSeries are very religious about that platform,” he said. Hensarling said the company will continue to update the products. For example, Oracle this week also plans to announce EnterpriseOne 8.12, which will offer enhancements for the automotive and the food and beverage industries.

Robert Robinson, business systems administrator at Durr Systems Inc., said this week’s moves could encourage users of other applications to buy World or EnterpriseOne. The Plymouth, Mich.-based automotive supplier runs both World and EnterpriseOne ERP applications. The announcement should also reassure customers already running J.D. Edwards and the IBM hardware that their investments are protected, Robinson said.

The Fusion Option

The indefinite support will be good for customers, but an Oracle application integrated with the Oracle database and middleware could be a better solution for users, according to John Matelski, president of the independent Quest International Users Group, an organization of J.D. Edwards software users. The group is a co-sponsor of the Collaborate user conference.

Matelski, who is also deputy CIO of Orlando, said that migrating to Oracle technology would likely provide most users with the best technology.

“The city of Orlando is going to evaluate all of its options based on features and functionality as it is unveiled,” said Matelski. If Oracle Fusion is optimized to run Oracle software, then the city would likely buy it, he said. The city currently runs EnterpriseOne on iSeries hardware and uses IBM’s DB2 database.

“Supporting the iSeries customer was always a cash cow for J.D. Edwards,” noted Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif. “These systems are extremely stable and rarely, if ever, need any maintenance or upgrades.”

Greenbaum said Oracle’s decision to extend support for the system isn’t surprising because “the 18 per cent to 22 per cent [estimated average] maintenance fee paid by these customers has a huge profit margin attached to it, so it makes sense for Oracle to support them indefinitely.”