I've spent some time recently attempting to develop a clear vision of Fusion Applications. It's a lot like piecing together a puzzle; although Oracle really has not come right out and described Fusion Applications in specific terms, there are numerous clues from different sources that fit together to provide an overall picture. Although the usual caveats apply, here is what I think I know:
- The whole concept of Fusion, including Fusion Middleware and Fusion Applications, is an evolutionary journey rather than a set of specific product releases. Think iterative and incremental releases rather than single, "big bang" releases. And an iterative approach is a great thing for Oracle customers.
- Fusion Applications will be more more process-centric than any of the Oracle Application suites we know today. The frame of reference, rather than a suite of applications like Purchasing, will be collections of end-to-end business processes like Procure-To-Pay grouped into lifecycle buckets like Financial Management.
- Most of the business processes will be pretty horizontal (i.e., industry generic) at first, with industry-specific vertical processes appearing as Fusion Applications continue to evolve.
- Not all customers will need to move to Fusion Applications right away. For those customers who have generally good fits out of the box between their business processes and their current applications product line, there won't be much incentive to move. These customers will get the greatest benefits from the Applications Unlimited commitment.
- I'm very happy about the flexibility provided by the Applications Unlimited commitment but, because I do believe in the Law of Diminishing Returns, I doubt the commitment will last forever. Sooner or later, all Oracle customers (whether they are apps customers or not) will probably wind up on some type of Fusion technology stack.
- For those customers moving to Fusion Applications, the best way to get going (in simple terms) is to eliminate as many customizations as possible, plan the migration of those customizations that simply cannot be eliminated, consolidate data (mainly to support the business intelligence functionality in Fusion Applications), and begin using Fusion technology components (such as BI Publisher aka XML Publisher) today.
- A pretty good preview of Fusion Applications is appearing in the form of the Applications Integration Architecture. The Applications Integration Architecture may eventually be very close to the first release of Fusion Applications, with the user interface and the unified implementation of business processes being the biggest differentiators between the two products.
- Although I may be stating the obvious, I'll so so just to clear up any misconceptions. Customers will not need to move to Fusion Applications in order to utilize the Applications Integration Architecture. However, customers who do move to Fusion Applications will still be able to leverage the Applications Integration Architecture. It's not an "either or" choice.
- I suspect that Fusion Applications, the Applications Integration Architecture, the E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Retek, and the rest of the Oracle Applications product stable will all eventually incorporate the standardization of Enterprise Business Objects.
- The greatest challenge to Oracle customers over the next few years will be to develop an understanding of the various choices Oracle has made available, so that each customer can make intelligent decisions about those choices based on the specific needs of their enterprise.
Yup, in the words of Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now"...or at least a little better than I could before.