Friday, August 17, 2007

The Applications Layer

So let's talk about the layer of the roadmap that, as a former business systems analyst, is near and dear to my heart: the applications layer. This is also where I diverge a bit from Oracle's recommendations for moving forward, due to the needs of my specific enterprise. That divergence consists of choices regarding which version of the E-Business Suite will provide our "jumping off point" for Fusion Applications and the timing of that jump.

In examining the new functionality Release 12, JPL has not uncovered substantial value for our business end users. It's not that we don't like R12 - the SWAN user interface and the chance to run on Fusion Middleware are both pretty appealing. It's just that, in our particular business environment, R12 does not seem to give us much value over So, we've decided to leverage Oracle's "Lifetime Support" to sticking with 11i until we jump off to Fusion Applications (both 11.5.10 and R12 are certified "jump off points" for migrating to Fusion Applications).

The next divergence from Oracle's recommendations is based on our historical experience: we don't want to be first...nor anywhere near the "bleeding edge". When 11i became generally available, JPL was among the first Oracle customers to implement the new version into our production environment. Unfortunately, the early versions of 11i were just not "ready for prime time" least not in JPL's environment. It was not a fun experience, especially when our users began planning to hang IT managers in effigy...okay, it wasn't quite that bad, but the relations with our internal customers did get a bit "frosty." As we've talked with our internal customers about our plans to migrate to Fusion Applications, they've asked us to exercise some caution about migrating too early in the product lifecycle. We intend to listen to the concerns of those customers. So, as you examine the roadmap, you'll see that we don't plan move to Fusion Applications in our production environment until about two years after the first planned release of an integrated Fusion Applications suite in 2008. In the meantime, we plan to begin our evolution to Fusion by implementing Fusion Middleware and utilize that technology with the 11i E-Business Suite in an Oracle-supported configuration.

So, now that we've covered the strategy, let's briefly cover the three intitiatives needed at JPL to support a successful move to Fusion Applications:
  • Catalog/Reduce/Plan Migration - Customizations: JPL has developed some significant customizations to the E-Business Suite (and I suspect we're not alone in this regard). We need to catalog our customizations, eliminate customizatons with newer "vanilla" functionality where possible, and plan for the migration of those customizations that cannot be replaced.
  • 11i Functionality Mapping and Implementation: We'll be making one last pass at discovering functionality newly provided by 11i, mapping that functionality to our business processes, and implementing that functionality where it adds value to our business. In other words, let's take one more look at 11i functionality to be sure that we're maximizing the value of what we already own. The idea here is to make our baseline environment for the migration to Fusion Applications as feature-rich and valuable as possible.
  • Fusion Applications Mapping and Implementation: As we learn more about the functionality in Fusion Applications, we'll map that functionality to our business processes, identify any gains and gaps, then build a plan for filling the gaps.

NEXT UP: The Data Repository Layer

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