Oracle is hoping to make a big splash with its upcoming Fusion Applications launch, but in the meantime has the perennial and less glitzy task of persuading users to upgrade from older releases of E-Business Suite.
"If I were in your situation, I would be making a plan," said Cliff Godwin, senior vice president of applications development, during a keynote address Monday at the New England Oracle Applications User Group conference in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Godwin ran down a long list of features and improvements in the current release, EBS 12.1, covering areas such as manufacturing, warehouse management, global tax calculation, patch automation, and mobile integration.
Premier Support for EBS 11.5.10 officially ends in November, meaning users who choose to stay on that edition would normally face additional maintenance fees for Extended Support. Last year, citing the bad economy, Oracle announced that it would waive Extended Support fees (pdf) for one year on a number of products, including 11.5.10.
In any event, it seems that few EBS users have upgraded to R12 so far. Altimeter Group estimates that roughly 5 percent of EBS installed base is running either version 12 or 12.1, said Ray Wang, a partner in the analyst firm.
That number "is about right" given the circumstances, Wang said. "People initially shy away from the first release of any product." R12 was released in early 2007, while R12.1 arrived in May 2009. "It was not till 12.1 that we started to see momentum in adoption."
Moreover, "the downturn in the economy and stability of the 11.5 product has probably been a key reason for slower adoption than normal," Wang added.
Indeed, during a conference session on R12 upgrades held by Oracle systems integrator USJade, the presenter asked how many of the roughly 100 attendees present had such a project under way, and it appeared that nobody raised a hand.
But one user who attended the session said her company is now in the planning stages for an upgrade.
"[The system has] been very stable. But you we're at the point where we need to do more. We're getting requests from users for enhanced functionality that we see will probably or possibly be available in R12," said the user, an Oracle business analyst for a U.S. manufacturing company who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Moreover, the company is using EBS 11.5.9, which is already on Sustaining Support, a maintenance option for older platforms that does not includes services like critical patch updates. "So any problem that comes along, we are pretty much having to solve ourselves," she said. Add in a "tiny" IT staff with which to serve the company's users, and the situation has become difficult, she added.
The recent rough economy took its toll on the company, which put off an upgrade, which she now hopes will begin soon.
Upgrade projects could pick up pace soon, according to another Oracle user.