Slow Product Ramp-ups Challenge Oracle and SAP

Both companies still have some things to prove to customers as they continue to unveil their product strategies around Oracle's Fusion Apps and SAP's HANA technologies, according to one analyst.

For the last five years, Oracle's product road map has been leading to one major goal: The Oracle Fusion Applications Suite, which has been long touted as its next-generation suite of open-standards-based enterprise software.

Meanwhile, SAP launched the promise of its HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) in-memory computing platform more than a year ago to bring new high-performance capabilities to critical enterprise apps.

Both companies, though, are still working to deliver these things they've been promising to corporate users and that's creating some challenges for both vendors, says Jon Reed, an independent enterprise software analyst and principal at

So what are the key remaining issues that are on the minds of potential customers?

"Oracle's Fusion Apps just went into General Availability, but it's still kind of a selective GA," Reed says. "They are staking a lot of their application future on Fusion but there are still a lot of questions on pricing and other things."

At the same time, SAP has been generating a lot of questions of its own among customers as it continues its development and release of its HANA. HANA, which will be available in appliance form, places data to be processed in RAM instead of reading it off disks, adding a performance boost, according to a story from the IDG News Service. HANA has been generally available to customers since June.

"SAP has a lot going on with HANA," Reed says. "Both companies are banking a lot on these two different plays."

The recent Oracle Fusion GA release news, though, does offer some progress for customers if it's really happening, Reed says. "User companies have been waiting on the promised functionality for a long time, and now Oracle is rounding a little bit of a corner there. Now companies can really look and see if it is going to be a good fit for them."

One of the keys in Oracle's Fusion strategy has been to develop a clear upgrade path for existing customers of JD Edwards and PeopleSoft applications, both of which were acquired by Oracle in the past. "Oracle's ultimate game plan was that Fusion would be a bridge for those customers to become full-fledged Oracle customers," Reed says. "They're trying to provide more perceived value in ERP for their customers" by making it easier to deploy and bringing in cloud-based options. "So it is important for Oracle to be able to show that to new and existing customers."

The problem with that, he says, is that the GA for Fusion may not be all it's cracked up to be at this point. "It is generally available but it doesn't meet my criteria for what that should be because they are still evaluating customers to use it," he says. Since it's only being distributed to evaluation customers, Reed doesn't see this as a true GA release yet. "They're coming along with it and certainly by the fall it should be much easier for users to kick the tires."

Another remaining question, he says, is what cloud-based options Fusion will really contain. "I haven't been able to get answers," Reed says. "There are some questions in some people's minds, even about how much it's really cloud based."

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