The Long and Windy Road to Oracle's Fusion Applications

Oracle has laid out the Fusion Apps roadmap for its customers. But how each customer actually gets to the Fusion Apps destination is another question altogether.

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But Will Oracle Customers Care?

It's obvious Oracle took its time with Fusion Apps. It had, in fact, plenty of time. Oracle's customer base—mired in a global economic recession for two years and facing flat or declining budgets—was barely ready for the challenges of the next fiscal quarter, never mind laying out millions on next-gen, expensive and untested technology from Oracle.

In a recent blog post, Why Don't People Understand Fusion?, the U.K. Oracle User Group's Debra Lilley writes: "Most people have spent the last year or so trying to avoid big IT projects, so why look at what you are not going to do?"

Enterprise-class ERP packages from the likes Oracle, SAP and other vendors also still suffer from administration inefficiencies, exorbitant legacy costs, and over-customization and shelfware problems. Of the 350 respondents to MorganFranklin's survey at Oracle's Collaborate 2010 show, 53 percent were not aware of all of the functionalities that their ERP applications had to offer.

Therefore the crucial question, now that we've moved into 2011 and FA will be GA, is just how will Oracle customers approach Fusion Apps?

So far, the response has been a mixture of curious technological interest and corporate indifference. A recent survey of Oracle's apps customer base by Computer Economics found that Fusion Apps "are not on the radar for most customers, with only 10 percent planning to migrate to Fusion."

To Constellation Research's Wang, FA adoption will depend on each customer's existing landscape. Oracle's customer base typically falls into three categories, he says: Die-Hard Red Stack Believers, Best-of-Breed Customers by Accident, and Net-New Greenfield. Here's how each category will likely approach FA, according to Wang:

"Expect Net-New Greenfields to consider the full Fusion App suites as they compare existing Apps Unlimited products and SAP. Best-of-Breed Customers by Accident will most likely be drawn to the 100 modules to be delivered on demand and on premises. Die-Hard Red Stackers most likely have upgraded to the latest Fusion Middleware and will consider product replacements and module adoption. Fusion Apps remains fairly horizontal and those customers with rich and stable vertical capabilities will most likely hold off for future releases."

As 2010 wound down, Oracle execs made sure to talk up the Fusion Applications roadmap and the customer flexibility FA offered via its modular design.

"This mix and match [approach to Fusion Apps with different modules] and the clarity of the roadmap we've given our existing customers and the fact that Fusion is here now so you can see it and touch it hugely de-risks the question for customers," stated Oracle EVP of Product Development Thomas Kurian, at a meeting with financial analysts in September 2010. "The choice of when they go and how they go to Fusion, and if they go to Fusion, is theirs and theirs alone, OK? No other applications vendor has this breadth of capability or the choice."

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