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Oracle launches five new products

Oracle today detailed enhancements to five of its products at once, upgrading Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and the E-Business Suite as part of its Applications Unlimited program.

NEW YORK -- Oracle Corp. today outlined the latest phase of its Applications Unlimited program, detailing releases to five of the product suites it has amassed over a two-year acquisition spree.

Taking the stage at the Hudson Theater, Oracle president Charles Phillips and John Wookey, senior vice president of Applications Unlimited, headlined a global launch of E-Business Suite release 12, Siebel 8.0, PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12, and JD Edwards World A9.1.

"Most software companies would be happy to get one out on time. We did five," Phillips said.

Today's news touched on the old -- Oracle's continued pledge of support; the new -- Oracle's new versions; and the future -- Oracle's plan to move to service-oriented architecture (SOA), which Oracle will reach through its Fusion Middleware, according to Phillips. The announcement was trumpeted as a continuation of Oracle's Applications Unlimited program, through which the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company has pledged not only to continue to support but to develop the application suites it has acquired.

"When we made these acquisitions, understandably there was some concern, so we announced Applications Unlimited to give people a framework and [an idea of] what they can anticipate," Phillips said. "Whatever product you're using, we'll support that product for a lifetime -- not just support but continued new releases."

All five products have been certified on Oracle's Fusion Middleware, allowing users to form tighter integrations and take advantage of Oracle Business Intelligence. Additionally, Fusion Middleware will underpin all of the applications Oracle will build and update under Fusion, the effort to combine its many applications under one umbrella. Fusion is still on schedule for 2008, according to Wookey.

"We'll evolve to a service-oriented architecture -- and middleware, that is how we're gong to do that," Phillips said. "It's fundamental to the way we build applications. You won't have to wait for five years out to take advantage of SOA. It's fundamental if you plan to move to Fusion in the future."

The applications detailed today also come with pre-built integrations. For example, Siebel On Demand, its Software as a Service product, will now be integrated with Oracle E-Business Suite on the back end. Oracle has also integrated some of its smaller acquisitions like Demantra and G-Log.

Alongside the ERP and CRM sector of the applications market, Oracle has identified four key industries which it is approaching with separate business units and specific business goals. Each unit is lead by the CEO of one of Oracle's recent acquisitions: Retek's CEO heads up the retail vertical; Portal's the communications vertical; SBL's the utilities vertical; and i-Flex's the banking vertical.

"These people would be CEOs outside of Oracle, and we want to incent them to be CEOs inside Oracle," Phillips said.

Siebel 8.0 features new search capabilities, a new user interface and task-based management tools. Oracle E-Business Suite 12 features enhancements to make the product perform globally while lowering cost. PeopleSoft Enterprise 9 features expanded talent management tools and hiring processes. JD Edwards World A9.1 is the first major release in 10 years and provides new compliance support and global operations capabilities. JD EnterpriseOne 8.12 has new operational sourcing and three modules for the food and beverage industry.

For all the enhancements, much of Oracle's customer base is still not ready.

"The end-to-end integration is very appealing, but it's way too early," said Robert Woodward, business manager at MSC Industrial Direct Co. in Melville, N.Y. "We're not a company that swings too early to the state of the art."

Woodward came to check out some of the new features in Siebel 8.0, though his company is not currently a Siebel customer. The hesitance of some customers to upgrade is acknowledged at Oracle, whether it is to the latest releases or ultimately to Fusion.

"Our strategy is providing customers the choice," Wookey said. "They can choose based on the benefits to their business, and they can at some point choose when and if they move to our new applications."

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