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One year later, Oracle touts progress of Fusion

Top Oracle executives took to the stage yesterday to detail the progress of Fusion thus far and to lay out a Fusion roadmap for the future.

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Oracle executives took to the stage at San Francisco City Hall yesterday to reassure customers and investors that the year-old Fusion initiative -- Oracle's effort to combine the spoils of more than a dozen high-profile acquisitions -- is making progress.

The executives said Oracle will unveil its first full-fledged Fusion applications as scheduled in 2008 and this year will release three new sets of applications with Fusion application integration and workflow tools, including Oracle E-Business Suite 12, PeopleSoft 9 and J.D. Edwards 8.12.

"Oracle is halfway to Fusion," said Oracle president Charles Phillips, who appeared first to summarize the progress of Fusion thus far. "One year later, half the job is done and it's the toughest half."

Phillips said the "toughest" half of the process of getting to Fusion included building the necessary tool sets, defining the platform's functionality map and getting the customers' requirements right.


The Oracle president also sought to debunk what he called myths about Fusion, telling the audience that the company is not merging code from their various acquisitions, nor are they starting from scratch.

He also said that the company is working with customers to make sure that upgrading to Fusion is not an expensive process and attacked the assertion that an initiative like Fusion has never been undertaken before.

"Let's suppose we hadn't made any acquisitions. We'd still have to introduce the next generation of technology," he said. "The only difference is we now have more customers."

Phillips also said that Oracle has accepted industry standards such as Java at the application and middleware layers, and he highlighted the fact that customers don't have to upgrade to Fusion if they don't want to.

"We've announced lifetime support," Phillips said. "It's up to us to put enough value in there that you plan to [upgrade]."

The Fusion initiative began a year ago following Oracle's $10 billion takeover of CRM applications mainstay PeopleSoft Corp. Oracle describes Fusion as the process of integrating into a single standards-based platform the "best of" functionality from that acquisition and more than a dozen others, including J.D. Edwards, Retek Inc., Oblix Inc., Profit Logic and the soon-to-be-acquired Siebel Systems Inc.

Oracle's investors seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach in regards to the firm's strategy of growth by acquisition. The company's stock has bounced between $12 and $14 over the past 12 months, down significantly from years past. During the last fiscal quarter Oracle posted lower than expected profits, attributing the loss to slowed growth in its database business.

Other Oracle executives speaking at yesterday's event included Thomas Kurian, senior vice president for Fusion middleware development, and senior vice president John Wookie. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had been scheduled to speak at the event but cancelled due to a case of the flu.

SAP launches pre-emptive strike

Oracle has stated that one of the key goals of Fusion is to unseat SAP AG as the leader in the $50 billion market for business applications. And SAP has taken notice.

Yesterday, the German company released a press release ahead of the event taking issue with, among other things, Oracle's focus on the middleware components of Fusion.

"The reason Oracle chose to re-brand existing middleware components as Fusion is simply based on the fact that they do not have an applications message to deliver to the market," the statement read. "Positioning the battle for the applications software space around middleware is pure marketing spin. In reality, the applications race should be centered on applications."

It was a move that Phillips joked about during his speech yesterday.

"A lot of our competitors know about [this event and] they're putting out press releases," he said. "I'm glad they're interested in driving people to our event. Thank you, SAP."

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