Oracle's Fusion Applications are finally generally available to all customers, the company announced Wednesday at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco as part of the most extensive public demonstration of the long-awaited software to date.
Fusion Applications are the result of a massive engineering effort spanning more than six years. They constitute a superset of the best elements of Oracle's JD Edwards, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and Siebel systems, along with a theme of "pervasive" BI (business intelligence) throughout the user experience.
Oracle wants to make upgrading to Fusion "a business-value-driven decision rather than a vendor-forced decision" for customers, said Steve Miranda, senior vice president of application development, during a keynote on Wednesday.
They will be made available in on-premises, hosted, and SaaS (software-as-a-service) form, but some details of the latter option, including subscription pricing information, haven't yet been released. The same codebase is used for all versions, meaning customers can switch as their needs change, Miranda said.
For some time, Oracle has discussed how its installed base can "coexist" with Fusion Applications, running the new software side-by-side. This week at OpenWorld, Oracle announced a series of "coexistence processes" that tie various E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel applications with like-featured Fusion modules.
Oracle's strategy is pragmatic for a number of reasons. One, a more aggressive attempt to push upgrades could frighten or anger customers who are heavily invested in older Oracle software suites. Secondly, Oracle will continue to collect lucrative maintenance dollars from those users even if they don't move to Fusion.
Also, Fusion Applications are still new, and after years of delays getting them to market, Oracle is probably happy to have a relatively small number of customers check out version 1.0, so any final kinks can be worked out before the software is sold at significant scale.
In the meantime, on Wednesday Oracle sought to dazzle customers with Fusion Applications' new capabilities.
Oracle spent a lot of time talking to customers to figure out how best to embed BI within the Fusion experience, according to Miranda.
"We really want to change the way people think about BI," Miranda said. It's not just dashboards, KPIs and metrics. It's sometimes just simple things you need to move your job forward."
He showed how a manager working inside a Fusion human-resources application could mull whether a solid employee would leave the company by visually drilling into her personnel file to find historical pay-increase and promotion information and contrasting that with performance reviews. The manager could then initiate a salary bump or promotion process directly from the same workflow.
Fusion Applications will also target two of the hotter areas in enterprise software of late: social media and mobility.
Enterprise applications being built today have to follow a new set of rules thanks to the usability of today's consumer Web services and sites, Miranda argued.
"All of us in this room expect search to work in a certain fashion," he said. "We all know and expect how the [Web] shopping experience should work. And we all know how it should work and feel in the context of mobile applications."