Oracle Upgrades E-Business Apps, Improves Integration Among Product Lines

Oracle is shipping E-Business Suite Release 12, a major upgrade of its ERP application suite, as well as upgrades of its acquired PeopleSoft, Siebel and J.D. Edwards applications. In a New York City press conference Wednesday, Oracle executives said the company is offering improved integration between the disparate product lines -- and improved integration capabilities for third-party software developers -- in addition to hundreds of enhancements to each application suite.

Oracle president Charles Phillips said the new releases fulfill the promise of Oracle's "Applications Unlimited" program under which the vendor pledges to update and support its application products. That includes products the company has acquired in recent years, even after the next-generation Fusion applications begin shipping sometime next year.

"When we made all these acquisitions, understandably there were some concerns," Phillips said. "What is Oracle going to do with all these products?"

Oracle has built closer ties between its E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel and J.D. Edwards applications in part by linking all the applications to its Oracle Fusion Middleware, providing a common management framework and shared capabilities such as business intelligence, business process analysis, and identity and access management. Customers, for example, can use a single set of business intelligence dashboards to examine data from Oracle financial applications, Siebel CRM apps and J.D. Edwards manufacturing software. Oracle also makes use of Web services and the Business Process Execution Language to integrate the multiple product lines.

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Fusion, which will incorporate capabilities of all of its applications in a single, service-oriented architecture-based product line, remains on schedule for delivery sometime in 2008, said John Wookey, senior vice president of applications development. He said Oracle would start to release details about the new software over the next few months.

But he repeated Oracle's promise that customers will not be forced to migrate to Fusion from existing products and that Fusion will support upgrades from at least two generations of those products. Oracle's acquired applications also continue to support non-Oracle databases and middleware, Wookey said.

Oracle execs also said the company is expanding its partner program to provide independent software vendors with technical services and training to help them integrate their solutions with Oracle apps using the service-oriented capabilities of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle's E-Business Suite Release 12 includes 18 new products and 2,443 enhancements, according to Oracle. First previewed at Oracle OpenWorld last fall, the new software provides a centralized financial architecture for enforcing financial controls and accounting rules throughout a global company. The suite, which began shipping last week, also offers new profitability management, human capital management and project portfolio analysis capabilities.

PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Capital Management 9.0, a major component of the PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0 suite that began shipping last year, is now available with new "talent management" capabilities. Also shipping is Siebel CRM Release 8 with new search capabilities and the ability for users to quickly change business rules and processes. And J.D. Edwards World A9.1, the first major release of that application in 10 years, is also now available. Oracle began shipping a new release of its other J.D. Edwards software, EnterpriseOne 8.12, last year. All the applications are available as on-premise and hosted applications.

"The next generation of application functionality doesn't begin with Fusion," Wookey said. "We're delivering it now."

He said the next releases of all the applications are under development, along with Oracle's Fusion development project. Phillips said Oracle's application product lines still have gaps in specific functionality or vertical market capabilities and that more acquisitions are possible.