Friday, November 30, 2007

Our Iceberg Is Melting

I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. This is not another plug for "Unbreakable Linux". Read on...

Lately, I've been rereading one of my favorite books on change: Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. The book shares a fable in which a colony of penguins discovers that their Antarctic iceberg is melting. If the penguins do nothing, the iceberg will shortly melt away and dump the penguins into cold, dark waters of the Antarctic Ocean, which will eventually lead to their deaths from cold and exhaustion. The manner in which the penguins deal with this change holds some great lessons for all of us.

In the normal flow of my work yesterday (Nov. 29th), with the book fresh in my mind, I had the opportunity to speak with five different Oracle E-Business customers about one thing or another. In the course of these dialogues, I discovered that all five were on version 11.5.9 or earlier. In addition, all were uncertain about where to go from their current EBS version. So I thought that right now, when many customers are focused on building their plans for 2008, might be a good time to reiterate an important message as loudly and clearly as possible: your EBS iceberg is melting!

Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy defines the three available levels for Oracle Support. Let me summarize those definitions here:

Premier Support includes:

  • Major product and technology releases
  • Technical support
  • Updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
  • Tax, legal, and regulatory updates
  • Upgrade scripts
  • Certification with most new third-party products/versions
  • Certification with most new Oracle products

Extended Support includes:

  • Major product and technology releases
  • Technical support
  • Updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
  • Tax, legal, and regulatory updates
  • Upgrade scripts
  • Certification with most existing third-party products/versions
  • Certification with most existing Oracle products
  • Note that Extended Support may not include certification with some new third-party products/versions.

Sustaining Support includes:

  • Major product and technology releases
  • Technical support
  • Access to OracleMetaLink/PeopleSoft Customer Connection/Siebel SupportWeb
  • Fixes, updates, and critical patch updates created during the Premier Support stage
  • Upgrade scripts created during the Premier Support stage

Sustaining Support does not include:

  • New updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
  • New tax, legal, and regulatory updates
  • New upgrade scripts
  • Certification with new third-party products/versions
  • Certification with new Oracle products

So, in terms of the melting iceberg analogy, Sustaining Support looks like the freezing and dark waters of the Antarctic Ocean to me – it’s not a place I desire to visit for any length of time. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some likely scenarios for EBS customers:

  • If you are an EBS Release 12 user, stop reading right here. Go see your boss and talk about the big bullet you’ve dodged by being one of the first R12 customers. Have a congratulatory donut, get back to work, then come back to this article in about three years…that’s about the time we’ll start to discuss the future changes in your EBS support levels.
  • Premier Support for EBS 11.5.10 customers expires in November 2009. These customers will be have one of four options: 1) purchase up to three years of Extended Support, 2) migrate from EBS to another Oracle or non-Oracle apps product line (a very expensive proposition), 3) upgrade to EBS Release 12, or 4) go directly to Sustaining Support.
  • If you are on 11.5.9, Premier Support expires in June 2008. No Extended Support is available for purchase, so 11.5.9 users are left with options 2 through 4 from above.
  • If you are using 11.5.8, your Premier Support! Premier Support for 11.5.8 expires November 30, 2007. Let's see: 30 days hath September, April, June and November...I'm writing this on the last day of November...yup, your Premier Support ends today! Purchasing Extended Support is not an option. Unless you've already acted on options 2 or 3 from above, you'll go directly to Sustain Support at the stroke of midnight tonight (something about a pumpkin and a slipper come to mind here, but I’ve already pushed my limit on cute stories in this article, don’t you think?).
  • If you are currently on a version prior to 11.5.8, your iceberg has done melted and you're figuratively treading the freezing water of the Antarctic're on Sustaining Support right now. By the way, could you please move over to make room in the water for the 11.5.8 users who will be joining you later today?

So, if you’re an 11i user today(regardless of version), your support agreement has either changed already or will be changing soon. What should you be doing? That answer will be different for each EBS customer. In my shop, sticking with 11.5.10 until we move to Fusion Apps looks like a good plan at this particular moment. Some customers are planning to upgrade to R12 in 2008 and that's probably the right answer for them (for example, if SarOx is a big issue in your business, I would strongly encourage you to consider R12). The key really lies in recognizing the change and addressing that change as soon as possible. In doing so, I recommend that you work through the 8 Steps of Change laid out in “Our Iceberg Is Melting”:


1. Create a Sense of Urgency: help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.

2. Pull Together the Guiding Team: make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change—one with leadership skills, bias for action, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills.


3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy: clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.


4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy-in: make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.

5. Empower Others to Act: remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.

6. Produce Short-Term Wins: create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.

7. Don’t Let Up: press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with instituting change after change until the vision becomes a reality.


8. Create a New Culture: hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become a part of the very culture of the group.

You can learn more about how to proceed here…you can also part with about $15 and buy the book (no, I’m not getting any residuals or referral fees – I just like the book and think it applies to this situation).

So enough with the talk. Do something!


Steven Chan said...

Terrific article, Floyd. At OpenWorld, one customer remarked that they're running almost 100 instances on pre-11.5.9 levels. This was alarming but not surprising.

So, every little bit of help in getting the word out counts.

Steven Chan

rimmus said...


A really good article, very thought -provoking.

One thing you did not say in your analysis of options for customers on melting/melted icebergs (11.5.8, 11.5.9) is that they could move to 11.5.10. I know this would not deliver great functional benefit, but it would put them back on more solid ice - premier support to Nov 2009 and then the option of extended support for 3 years. This gives a breathing space to see what Fusion Applications delivers.

I'm new to your blog so expect some further comment/questions as I go through some of your previous posts.

fteter said...

@rimmus: you're right about moving to 11.5.10. In fact, when you read the "Roadmap" articles, you'll see that's pretty much the plan laid out for my own shop. Thanks for raising the point.

I'll be looking forward to more comments from you. Welcome to the blog!

Randy Ottinger said...


I work with Dr. Kotter at Sage|Kotter, and quite enjoyed your blog. It nicely captures the essence of Dr. Kotter's 8 Step Process for organizational change. It is also good to see how you are using the 8 Step process in action for practical purposes.