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Full Oracle Fusion due 2009, beta 2008

Customizations will break

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Exclusive Oracle will hit its goal of delivering Fusion applications next year in name only, with applications ready for testing but the full suite not due until 2009.

Fusion applications will be available during 2008 as an "early adopter beta suite" and the "full suite won't be until 2009", according the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), which is close to the database giant's plans.

Coding on Fusion, at least, has begun, with Fusion apparently combining 80 per cent of the functionality from Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel.

News on the dates provides the first real insight into Oracle's roadmap plans, which have hovered in a state of non-committal limbo since the company made an open-ended promise to ship Fusion during 2008.

We inched closed to getting a measure of the gap between Oracle's commitment and reality at last month's OpenWorld where chief executive Larry Ellison pledged three applications from Oracle's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suite would ship under the Fusion banner during the first half of 2008.

News on timing will provide welcome breathing room to developers on the sharp end of implementing Fusion, as it's also becoming apparent that they're facing the huge workload and re-skilling effort in migrating existing Oracle systems to Fusion.

All customizations for old versions of Oracle's E-Business Suite software will break and must be re-written using Java and XML.

The root cause is Fusion will not use Oracle's mod_plsql, with forms written in Java and reports written using XML. The few number of customers that are already running the latest version of Oracle E-Business Suite, version 12, could avoid potential problems, as they will already have stopped using mod_plsql.

For the thousands of customers out there running pre version 12, though, it's a grim picture. Developers will not only need to re-write Oracle installations that will be multiple terabytes in size, they will also need to re-skill, or IT shops will need to hire Java and XML programmers in order to complete the upgrade task.

"The number-one thing that's going to break is your customizations," John Stouffer, co-chairman of the OAUG's Fusion Council recently told customers. It's a message Stouffer has apparently been delivering to groups of Oracle users lucky enough to attend his valuable briefings around the country demystifying Fusion.

Stouffer also advised users to be wary of software currently available that Oracle calls Fusion, saying this is actually "pre-Fusion" software. Applications such as Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) manager are currently written on 11g, and do not use that 12g architecture as a jumping off point into Fusion.

Other so-called jumping off points to Fusion from Oracle's packaged software are Oracle E-Business Suite 10.2 and 11.5, PeopleSoft 8.8, 8.9 and 9.0, JD Edwards Enterprise 8.11 and 8.12, JD Edwards World A7.3, A8.1 and A 9.1. Jump off points for Siebel, Retek and iFlex have yet to be determined.

Another apparent problem with Fusion that's not being talked about by Oracle, is an increase in demands that Fusion's Java-based applications will place on server processing and server memory. Loads will increase, requiring that organizations either install bigger servers or link more servers together using Oracle's grid architecture. Stouffer warned of "exponential" database growth.

The advice is to use Fusion's non-release next year to get up to speed. The OAUG believes consultants will want to get in on the early adopter program during 2008 while end-users might want to wait until the following year before joining up.

Oracle was unavailable for comment despite requests.®

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