Microsoft to Customers: Beware Blind Love of Oracle Fusion

On the eve of Oracle OpenWorld, a Microsoft exec offers a bit of trash talk on Oracle's Fusion Apps and future ERP strategies.

I'm a straight-up sucker for any type of vendor-on-vendor verbal combat: You know, the fact-challenged, occasionally petty competitive rhetoric that spews from the mouths of warring enterprise technology vendors. (Truth be told: It's why I'm such a big Larry Ellison fan.)

With the Oracle OpenWorld 2010 confab about to commence on Sept. 19, Microsoft's corporate VP of business solutions, Michael Park, fired off some salvos in Oracle's direction in a recent blog post.

To make his points, Park splashes a dash of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) regarding the status of Oracle's next-generation Fusion Applications suite; mixes in a couple of subtle Microsoft Dynamics wins over Oracle; and adds a helping of enterprise software hot-button issues to grab the reader (such as comparing each vendor's efforts on cloud computing, innovation, upgrades and maintenance & support, to name a few).

Well played, Mr. Park.

Park then serves up five key questions that should be "top of mind" for OpenWorld attendees:

1. What are Fusion Applications going to do for me? Is Oracle offering me more of the same or something innovative and different to help address my business challenges?

2. What happens to the investments I have made in my technology assets [e.g. home-grown solutions, custom ISV solutions, etc.] if they're not Oracle?

3. Will Oracle support any retraining I will need as we undertake a re-platforming project to Fusion Applications? Will it distract from the everyday running of my business?

4. Is adopting Fusion Applications a choice, or a mandate? Is it designed to keep me on the cutting edge, or is Fusion really a way for Oracle to integrate their own application portfolio?

5. If I prefer a two-tier ERP implementation strategy, will Fusion Applications provide my divisions/subsidiaries/branches with the flexibility they need, while I'm re-platforming my core system?

What Park's verbiage may lack in Ellison-like bravado and vitriol, he makes up for by offering those weighty questions for current and potential Oracle customers.

That's a good thing for Microsoft. As I've written before, Microsoft is still considered a an up-and-comer, Tier II vendor in the enterprise software market—which is, of course, dominated by SAP and Oracle.

But one should should never count Microsoft out of any software war since it controls such a large, captive base of users who are very familiar with its products. Oracle, SAP and other vendors do so at their own risk.

Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM apps might not be "top of mind" for all IT folks attending OpenWorld. But there is one indisputable fact about Microsoft's app lineup that Oracle can't claim right now with Fusion Apps: Live products customers are actually using.

Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal Productivity Apps for CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. E-mail Thomas at twailgum@cio.com.

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