Oracle Lays Out Busy Apps Road Map

Speaking at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, Executive Vice President John Wookey laid out a busy road map for application upgrades, including E-business Suite Release 12, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12, JD Edwards World 8.91, Siebel 8.0 and CRM OnDemand 12 in the near term and followup products to all of those lines going forward.

In theory, that means customers and solution providers wouldn't be forced to relinquish familiar applications and code bases. Earlier this week, Oracle Co-President Charles Phillips reiterated that there will be "no forced march" migrations.

Oracle's "Fusion" plan for a single code base with the best of all its applications' functionality also remains on the map.

Some longtime Oracle partners were skeptical that the Redwood Shores, Calif., company would actually deliver on this "apps unlimited" promise over time but indicated that they're willing to wait and see.

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Wookey said each of the ongoing product lines will start to incorporate Oracle's own enterprise search, XML reporting tool, role-based analytics and integration of vertical expertise. He also reaffirmed prior "good citizenship" promises to support outside databases. Likewise, the company has pledged to support outside application servers and middleware in its databases and applications.

"We are sincere and passionate about continuing to support [IBM] DB2 and [Microsoft] SQL Server. You will continue to see great support for those platforms," Wookey said.

With its burgeoning applications base, Oracle is in a bit of a conundrum regarding database support. Oracle's database remains its flagship product. On Sunday, Phillips said the company would continue to tightly integrate its core foundational database and middleware technology into its applications. That integration would seem to indicate that third-party databases and middleware would become second-class citizens in Oracle's world.

Several industry observers, including Oracle rivals, were quick to point out the dilemma. "Oracle is being schizophrenic. On the one hand, they want to take over the world in every market -- apps, database, middleware and, who knows, operating systems. And yet they want to be open. If this were occurring in an actual human being instead of a company, he'd need therapy," quipped Bill Roth, vice president of BEA Systems' workshop business unit.

Wookey didn't give a product timetable, but an Oracle spokesman said E-business Suite 12 will be out within 12 months. A company spokesman previously told CRN that Seibel 8 is due out by the year's end. Chief among E-business Suite 12's perks are a redesigned user interface that eliminates popups and redundant screens, improved workflows and fewer steps to perform common tasks.

In related news, Oracle also announced that its next database, Oracle 11g, is now in beta. Oracle database vice president Andy Mendelsohn told reporters the database will ship in mid 2007.