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Ellison's announcement about the availability of the Fusion applications was expected, but the announcement of the Oracle Social Network was not. The social networking software, which can be used for communicating inside an organization, as well as with external partners and customers, will compete head-to-head with Salesforce.com's Chatter on-demand social networking service.
Development of the social networking capabilities sprung from the Fusion application project, Ellison said. One of the original Fusion design parameters was to create a next-generation user interface. But in the six years since the project began social networking has become a common way for people to communicate with each other.
"We think this has huge implications [for] how we build modern applications," Ellison said, introducing the Oracle Social Network. "And we had to integrate it with all our applications."
Ellison said more than 100 Fusion application modules are now generally available, including financial, human capital management and CRM applications. While more modules are in the pipeline, Ellison called the Fusion products "complete, integrated and finally here."
"It was a huge, huge engineering project," Ellison said. "It took a little longer than planned. But I think it was worth the wait"
Already about 200 customers have licensed early versions of the Fusion applications, according to the company, and about 100 have already deployed them. Some are implementing Fusion to replace older applications while others are augmenting existing applications, said Chris Leone, group vice president of Oracle's applications strategy, in a press briefing earlier in the day. Early customers include Boeing, Principal Financial Group and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
Fusion applications are designed to run either on-premise or in the cloud. Ellison generated applause when he said they also support a range of mobile devices.
Ellison contrasted the integrated Fusion applications with Software-as-a-Service applications from Workday, Taleo and Salesforce that he described as "siloed."
As with the Oracle Public Cloud, Ellison emphasized the use of industry standards to develop the Fusion applications, including the Java programming language. That's in contrast to competing applications built on proprietary technology, including Oracle's own E-Business Suite that's built on Oracle Forms and PeopleSoft applications built on PeopleTools.
Oracle also built core functions such as security into the company's middleware, database and virtualization software that support the Fusion applications, rather than into the applications themselves.
The Fusion applications are designed as an upgrade to Oracle's current application lines, including the E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards and other applications. Oracle has promised to continue supporting those older apps under its Oracle Lifetime Support Policy for Oracle Applications