Oracle apps development head outlines Fusion

As senior vice president of applications development at ERP and database software maker Oracle Corp., John Wookey faces the considerable task of crafting the vendor’s next-generation suite of business software, dubbed Fusion. In the wake of Oracle’s latest healthy earnings report, Wookey spent time this week talking about progress on Fusion and on some expected milestones.

Excerpts from that interview follow:

You had a strong quarter. Can you connect the financial results with the Fusion work you’re doing?

Over the last few months, we’ve seen working with the CIO advisory board, and the customer committees that customers have been getting comfortable and conversant with what the [Fusion] plan is, and they’re translating what it means into their own current deployments in PeopleSoft or the E-Business Suite. We have very happy customers coming back and buying additional products. We’re doing very, very well going head to head with SAP.

Can you give an update on the work with Siebel?

There are two pieces. One is the analytics. Siebel had really good technology, and we’re embracing that in Oracle. [Another piece] on the CRM side is that we have integrated the organizations. We’re planning Siebel 8.0, with some enhancements and a service-oriented architecture. One of the things in the [Siebel] product set is that each [functional] area actually will have its own task-based user interface flow. Siebel 8.0 is under way and targeted for late this year.

In addition, we plan to work aggressively to integrate Siebel CRM capabilities into Oracle and PeopleSoft ERP systems. We’re looking at packaged integration, and we have a project under way, and this year, we’ll deliver integration. Horizontally, it will be around quoting and order management flows and integrating Siebel OnDemand into the PeopleSoft and Oracle ERP back-end systems. Vertically, Siebel has financial industry service sales force automation, and we’ll integrate it into our core banking applications. Also, their life sciences product had good [sales force automation], and they had a clinical trial management system similar to our own academic research applications and that will be integrated. It’s all laid out, but we haven’t announced specific timing.

What about other applications?

Later this year, there will be a major release of the Oracle E-Business Suite, Version 12, and PeopleSoft Enterprise, Version 9. J.D. Edwards Version 8.12 will come out in the next few months. There will also be another release of J.D. Edwards, EnterpriseOne 9.0, approximately 18-month months after that, focused on very specific customer requested enhancements. We’ll also come out with J.D. Edwards World, No. A9.1, early next year. What happens to Oracle’s existing CRM lines? There is a major set of enhancements for both Oracle 12 and PeopleSoft 9 [CRM] coming out.

Customers have reiterated that the most troubling thing about the mergers is the Fusion road map. Can you give them some words of comfort?

We have a pretty good set of design-pattern flows for the applications, and we’ve started to take the customer groups through them. It gives them a sense of how the user interface will work and how we’re mapping the job functions. In going through the assessments, we’ve been dealing with advisory boards, and we saw gaps between various products. A lot came down to the approach — the same business problems were attacked differently [by the vendors]. We’d work with the J.D. Edwards users on a process, and we’d talk to the E-Business Suite users and see how they looked at it. If something was better managed on the Oracle side, we’d go back to talk to the J.D. Edwards users about it. The nice thing is, now there are a lot of specific plans and you can see exactly what is going on and we can get feedback on it.

And the deadline for Fusion remains the same?

The year 2008 is when the Fusion Suite hits the streets. But, there are a lot of things happening later this year. We’re releasing libraries of Fusion reports. Using XML, customers can see how they can extract and manipulate information for reporting. We’re building libraries for reports on top of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards and the E-Business Suite that customers can use today. This will be the basis of Fusion reporting. And Fusion has much better tools for doing reports.

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