SAN FRANCISCO: One of the biggest announcements at the OpenWorld 2010 show this week has been the launch of the long-awaited Oracle Fusion Applications suite. The complex suite has been five years in the making so there is a lot riding on its success.
The idea behind Fusion is to offer firms a one-stop shop for their business applications, combining separate customer relationship management (CRM), financials and other apps into one package. This sounds like a big ask for businesses for several reasons.
Firstly, most of the target audience will already be running the apps on offer, so what would be the advantage of switching over to a combined suite? There is also the issue of vendor lock-in.
The Oracle suite is tied to Fusion middleware, with business processes and application development embedded into the platform, so firms that have already invested in infrastructure from vendors such as IBM could prove difficult to convince.
Paul Hamerman, vice president of enterprise applications at Forrester Research, said that Fusion customers would also be pushed in the direction of an Oracle database.
"Fusion is optimised for the Oracle database, just like E-Business Suite," he explained. "It's my opinion that Fusion will only be on Oracle databases."
Despite the prospect of vendor lock-in, and the potential need to rip out and replace existing rival middleware and databases, Hamerman felt that the configurability and flexibility of the Fusion suite would be tempting for customers, and would be enough to convince them to switch to a fully Oracle infrastructure.
However, Hamerman was less convinced over the pricing model.
"Oracle hasn't disclosed the Fusion Applications pricing, but I think it'll be like the E-Business Suite, with apps sold on a per-user or number of employees metric," he said.
"Oracle has said that, for current customers, it won't cost anything to switch between the standalone and Fusion apps. In reality I think some money will change hands for the embedded components like business intelligence. Also you'll have to pay for the infrastructure like the Oracle database and middleware."
Oracle has set a release date of the first quarter 2011 for its first Fusion Applications release, but has acknowledged that there will be components missing. For example, the CRM offering will not ship with its call centre module.
"The applications are still six months away from availability, and it will be a couple more years before all the features customers want are available," Hamerman said. "There's very little live customer adoption even at a beta level, so Oracle still needs to prove the apps will scale in large enterprises."
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