Oracle survey versus Oracle survey

You spend ages waiting for a survey and then...

I found the Reg Technology Panel survey especially interesting as I've just been discussing a similar survey made by the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG), with almost double the number of respondents, with Ronan Miles, UKOUG chairman. Both surveys are professionally carried out, yet they have different results.

This is almost certainly the result of different sample selections (OUG members are probably dedicated Oracle professionals, especially as the OUG ruthlessly prunes respondents with silly email addresses; our Technology Panel has wider membership) and question semantics (a minor change in wording could easily change an "over half" positive response to an "under half" one). Nevertheless, it does make noting down the results to three sig figs a little pointless for a general audience (the OUG is interested mainly in its own members, of course).

Especially when surveys deal with terms like "happy" and "very satisfied" I'm much happier reporting that "most" or "around half" of the committed Oracle users (UKOUG members) surveyed "...were happy with..." instead of "...47.6 per cent of respondents were happy..." which perhaps conveys more precision than it should. And, of course, trends in the results over time would be more interesting than the absolute results, something that the UKOUG hopes to work on now it has five years of results.

So, what does the UKOUG's survey tell us?

Well, around two thirds of the UKOUG Siebel users responding were feeling "secure" or "very secure" over the future of their investment in Siebel - although remember that these are Oracle users too and there were issues with Oracle support in the past when Siebel was in charge.

In general, the majority of UKOUG respondents had reasonably positive feelings about Oracle applications and Oracle support, even if they came from the acquisitions (although the enthusiasm of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards users has waned slightly, as you'd expect as things bed down); while our survey results, perhaps unsurprisingly, seem rather less positive.

And take up of Oracle 10g seems good - perhaps, according to Miles, it's a more reliable release than people have been used to in the past. Seventeen per cent of UKOUG respondents were using 10g last year against 37 per cent this year (in contrast, 9i users had declined from 61 per cent to 43 per cent).

One result of the UKOUG survey that concerns Miles was that about half the UKOUG respondents were, seemingly, unaware of the Oracle Fusion Project - which is supposed to be the future of Oracle. Of those that were aware of it, slightly under half were unhappy with Oracle's plans. Interestingly, in our survey, only about a quarter of respondents claimed to know insufficient about Fusion to have an opinion on it; and, again, about half of those that did know about it had doubts, although the more people claimed to know about Fusion the more confidence in it they seemed to have.

One of our key Reg Dev survey conclusions was that: "Oracle Fusion Applications strategy probably has a lot of substance and goodness behind it, but... Oracle is not doing a particularly good job of communicating this to people in a convincing manner at the moment". This last seems to be confirmed by the UKOUG survey.

Fusion

So, what is Oracle Fusion and just why should its customers be interested in it.

Well, it's the future of Oracle, an overarching integration architecture that brings together all of its recent application acquisitions (or "mergers", as Oracle apparently prefers to think of them). It is, I think, genuinely interested in collaboration with its new people from PeopleSoft etc and maintaining the IP it has acquired - UKOUG says it has fed back the potential concerns of some of these groups and Oracle has taken them to heart.

Which is probably why Oracle's keynote speakers were talking about people "resisting being changed rather than resisting change itself". And Oracle emphasises that people can move to Fusion applications, if indeed they want to, at their own pace.

The Fusion Architecture is (of course) event and service enabled:

  • It will deliver application functionality as Web Services.
  • It is built around modular applications and business process (so business functionality can be extended as required from a catalogue of processes.
  • It has an underlying, scalable, web services and SOA architecture, with an ESB for integration services and a Registry for service location, as well as the latest industry initiatives, such as: BPEL process management and workflow, policies as Business Rules, and Business Activity Monitoring.
  • It introduces a standardised event-driven architecture accessible to both Oracle and third-party vendors.
  • It uses Grid Computing for assured scalability.

It seems to me that Oracle has to move forward, away from its own "legacy" and also to integrate PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards into a single platform without alienating the clever people it has "acquired" - and without losing the features of these acquired products (such as the PeopleSoft UI) that their customers loved.

The Oracle Fusion Architecture is the way forward in that it will do this - and help Oracle to ensure the PeopleSoft UI standards, say, migrate to its other apps, rather than the reverse.

So it makes sense for any current or potential Oracle customers to make up their own mind about Fusion (which is promised for 2008) RSN; there's a comprehensive Oracle white paper here.

Readers with questions about the UKOUG survey should contact info@ukoug.org. ®

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