Oracle Fusion Apps to headline OpenWorld

A newly released schedule for OpenWorld says that Oracle's long-awaited applications will be broadly featured at the show

Oracle's upcoming OpenWorld conference is set to broadly feature its long-awaited Fusion Applications, according to newly released agenda information for the show, which is scheduled for Sept. 19-23 in San Francisco.

During his OpenWorld keynote last year, company CEO Larry Ellison pledged that Fusion Applications would finally become available this year, but since then, the company has been nearly silent on the topic.

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But the new OpenWorld listings show Oracle plans to provide customers with fairly specific guidance on Fusion Applications, an indication that an initial release is on track.

Many sessions are scheduled on topics surrounding the software line, which is supposed to combine the best elements of Oracle's various product lines into a next-generation suite. Some sessions focus on specific Fusion releases, such as for CRM (customer relationship management), HCM (human capital management), and procurement.

Oracle is also holding a more general session regarding Fusion implementation options, which will be led by Steve Miranda, senior vice president of application development. Fusion Applications will be available in on-demand, on-premises, or hybrid form.

The company has also taken pains to assure its large installed base of E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and Siebel users that those applications will continue to be maintained and enhanced for quite some time, and that they can adopt Fusion Applications at their own pace.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to provide additional comment.

Some expected first-wave Fusion Applications, such as for projects and financials, don't appear to have dedicated sessions at the show. But it's early yet, and Oracle will probably flesh out the schedule, said Ray Wang, partner with analyst firm Altimeter Group.

If anything, customers interested in migrating from their current systems to Fusion Applications should attend Miranda's session, in order to gain insights about how to get started and what sort of technical complications the job will entail, he said.

Customers will also no doubt be looking for Oracle to finally deliver a concrete release date for Fusion Applications. "Nothing matters until it shows up on the price list," Wang said. To that end, questions remain about how much Fusion Applications will cost and which of their promised elements, such as pervasive BI (business intelligence) functionality, are included with the core license fees.

First announced in 2005, the Fusion project has suffered long delays.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing, according to Wang. "If you put a product out there too early and it's not ready, you waste R&D spending," he said. "At the end of the day, Oracle is one of a handful of vendors that have invested in completely re-architecting the products."

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.