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Oracle claims Fusion and integration milestone

But double-checks strategy, just to be sure

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Oracle has "clarified" its applications and middleware vision by dispelling "myths" surrounding, and announcing a halfway point in, its Fusion strategy while sniping at SAP.

The company crammed a press, analyst and customer event in San Francisco yesterday to announce tools and roadmaps, while assigning existing and acquired Oracle products into one of three categories branded "Fusion".

Oracle is now talking of Fusion applications, Fusion middleware and the Oracle Fusion architecture. "Project Fusion" - the term that described integration between the PeopleSoft and existing Oracle applications - is dead.

Company president Charles Phillips said the word "project" is no longer applicable as Oracle is "half-way there" in reaching its Fusion vision, adding "the toughest part is done", even though integration with PeopleSoft, JDE and Siebel will continue into 2008.

Supporting the claim to integration, Oracle demonstrated construction of a portal-based application in JDeveloper 10gR3, available before the end of this week, using a declarative process in Java and AJAX, with business processes built using BPEL.

Looking ahead, Oracle promised new versions of JDE, PeopleSoft and Oracle's eBusiness Suite in 2006 that support components of Fusion. These elements include the ability to migrate JDE and PeopleSoft reports from SQR to XML and BPEL-based business flows and business process maps that integrate Oracle with Siebel. Oracle re-committed to delivering the full Fusion suite in 2008.

So what is Fusion?

Fusion consists of existing products such as the eBusiness suite's data model - which is being shared by the PeoleSoft and JDE software - and the Grid architecture running on low-cost Intel hardware, spiced-up with all-ready-familiar concepts and technologies that include services oriented architectures (SOAs), workflows, business processes and programming interfaces built in Java, AJAX and BPEL.

Phillips tackled four "myths" saying "I want to clear up some misunderstandings around Fusion". Of course, Oracle was largely responsible for sowing confusion by coming up with Project Fusion and the Oracle Fusion Middleware concept simultaneously and then failing to clearly explain the difference.

According to Phillips, the myths are that: Oracle is merging product code; Oracle is starting from a blank sheet of paper; Oracle has never done this before; and that large customers will experience unanticipated costs.

Underlining the event was a need to carry JDE and PeopleSoft customers seamlessly into the world of Oracle. The company must also convince observers that - since buying PeopleSoft in January 2005 -it has a clear vision and that integration between its disparate products will progress more quickly than similar work at SAP - Oracle's main rival. SAP's own vision and integration strategy is NetWeaver.

Oracle's re-stated vision was delivered as SAP's products and technology chief Shai Agassi yesterday claimed that it was "fundamentally impossible" for Oracle to integrate its own applications with those it bought last year. Agassi was speaking at AMR Research's Strategy 21 in California's Half Moon Bay on Wednesday morning, ahead of Oracle's event.

Phillips retorted in the afternoon, saying: "We are here to talk about Oracle. They [SAP] can talk about us if they want and they can put out press releases."

At the conference, Thomas Kurian, Oracle's senior vice-president of middleware development, announced that Oracle already has 625 customers on Fusion. "More customers use Oracle middleware to integrate SAP... than they do use SAP, because it's standards-based," he said.

Phillips closed Wednesday's event with a parting shot at hosted CRM pioneer Salesforce.com. Looking beyond the 2008 integration deadline to 2010, Phillips said Oracle wanted to lead on-demand software.

"We have more on-demand customers. A big percentage over time will want us to choose those applications. We will have enough power products at this layer for it to makes sense," Phillips said. Phillips was speaking for Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, who was unable to close the event as planned, owing to a bad case of flu.

The Fusion announcement was originally timed to coincide with the anniversary of the PeopleSoft acquisition and closure of the Siebel deal; but Siebel is now expected to close on January 31. ®

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