Oracle still has some kinks to work out in its next-generation Fusion Applications and implementing them on-premises remains a daunting task, but customers on older product lines have good things to look forward to if and when they upgrade, according to one veteran of many early Fusion projects.
The mistake is when new Fusion customers try to move their legacy processes to the new platform, said Floyd Teter, executive vice president of strategy and products for systems integrator EiS Technologies, during the New England Oracle Application Users Group conference in Worcester, Massachusetts, Monday.
"You have to be ready for change," he said. "The way you work [in Fusion] is not the way you worked before."
What Oracle hasn't done an effective job of highlighting, however, is that Fusion Applications is built on a "huge repository" of industry best practices, according to Teter. "Nobody ever talks about it," he said. "When you talk about considering Fusion Applications, as a business, this is where you should start."
It's also crucial for Fusion customers to envision their project as a "solution-driven" effort, not one meant to fit a set of independently developed requirements, he said.
After bringing a Fusion system online, customers can then determine which built-in processes fit their existing needs, according to Teter.
A tool Oracle has developed for Fusion called Functional Setup Manager can help with the initial configuration. Any unmet requirements will then become clear and can be addressed through more focused projects, Teter added.
"I'm in my seventh round of implementing for a Fusion customer, and I have yet to have a situation without gaps," he said. "It's not all peaches and cream."
By using the composer tools made for the software, the work to finish desired tweaks "will be smaller than you expect," he said. However, "sometimes you're going to have to put on the big-boy pants and do some custom development," Teter added.
There are some other challenges to Fusion Applications, such as the sizable infrastructure footprint required to run the software, and the underlying complexity of the Fusion architecture. To this end, Oracle has said most initial customers have gone with a cloud-based deployment rather than to install and manage the software in-house.
Teter urged those at the well-attended session to go this route as well. "You're not going to do this on-premises," he said. "The footprint is simply too large. Forget it."
Since pushing Fusion Applications into general availability in October 2011 after a long development process, Oracle has taken up a SaaS-like release pace, delivering new versions multiple times per year.
Despite this, the products are still showing signs of immaturity, such as error messages that are far from user friendly and can confuse end users, according to Teter. "I have no doubt Oracle will go back and clean those error messages up so they mean something to a functional user," he said.
Fusion Applications documentation was at one time "very poor," but is now improving, according to Teter. But training options are "almost nonexistent," he added. Oracle's training group may be in "catch-up mode" due to Fusion's newness and frequent updates, he said. "When you're a trainer, you like to deal with stable material."