Fusion Applications are supposed to combine the best attributes of Oracle's various application lines into a next-generation suite. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said they will make their initial debut sometime this year, and many observers are expecting a release announcement at OpenWorld.
The conference sessions include deep-dives into individual Fusion modules, the suite's architectural underpinnings, and its pervasive use of BI (business intelligence).
While the presentations will apparently include a wealth of granular detail about the software, OpenWorld also presents a crucial opportunity for Oracle to educate customers on some broader aspects of the Fusion launch, according to some users and analysts.
"The big thing for me is the deployment strategy," said Forrester Research analyst Paul Hamerman.
Ellison told last year's OpenWorld audience that Fusion Applications are built to be deliverable as SaaS (software as a service). But it is not clear if Oracle itself will sell all the applications this way, Hamerman said.
"I think that Oracle's just not ready to jump into SaaS too much, really, for financial reasons," he said. "Ellison's on record saying nobody's making any money with SaaS, and it's pretty much true."
Fusion Applications will obviously be sold in on-premises form as well as via hosting services like Oracle's own On Demand division, Hamerman added. But it may be up to partners to deliver the software as true multi-tenant SaaS, which provides cost savings and cuts management chores, since multiple customers share the same application instance.
Oracle would definitely do well to further spell out the deployment options for Fusion, said Floyd Teter, vice president of the Oracle Applications Users Group. Teter is also on the group's Fusion Council, which has served as a liaison between Oracle and customers regarding the applications.
Teter, who works as director of the program management office for system integrator Innowave Technologies, comes in contact with many small and medium-sized companies, he said.
"One of the things they're interested in terms of Fusion Apps is, 'Do I really have to host this environment myself,'" Teter said. "[Oracle needs] to be explicit about that."
Fusion Applications' technical underpinnings, which include Oracle Fusion Middleware and the JDeveloper toolkit, may result in change for many users of Oracle's existing ERP (enterprise resource planning) products, which include JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite.
The SaaS deployment option may therefore be more attractive to smaller companies with fewer resources and desire to make such a transition.
There's also the possibility of Fusion Applications being delivered in appliance form, perhaps powered by Oracle's Exadata platform.
But users can't make any substantial decisions until the software is actually released.
At the least, Hamerman is expecting Oracle to announce a general-availability date for Fusion's first wave at OpenWorld. While few customers may leap to buy it, Oracle still needs to set some expectations for the market, he said.