Monday, April 28, 2008

Fusion On A Shoestring

You ever have one of those days when you realize the workload has gotten overwhelming? Too many things to do for too many different people who all want their stuff now? For me, today is one of those days. I handle days like this by going incommunicado...I don't go to work, I don't take calls, I don't check my email, I don't Twitter. No contact with the outside world until I knock a few things off the list. That's what I'm doing today. Now, the fact that I've been feeling a bit under the weather and took a sick day to get better helps this strategy work. Nevertheless, I must admit that I'm home mostly to knock some work out - the rest time is almost secondary.

One of those items I need to knock out is this particular post. The ideas here have been on my mind for a few weeks but really just started insisting that I write about them in the last week. When an idea grabs hold like that, I don't get much sleep until I write it up. I'd really like to get some sleep tonight (despite my discounting the importance of rest in the last paragraph, you've got to get some sooner or later), so here we go.

Just before and during Collaborate, I spoke with quite a few customers in a quandary over the whole Oracle Fusion thing. They want to get going with moving to Fusion, but most just lack the budget or funding to really get going. It's an expensive proposition and, in the current economy, finding money to upgrade is a challenge. So the issue is "what can I do now without spending a lot of money"? In other words, how you prepare for Oracle Fusion on a shoestring budget? After kicking the idea around a bit and talking it over with a few people, I have five brief ideas.

Patch Up To Current

Patch up to the latest version of software you already own, while not free, is relatively inexpensive. It's also a great way to eliminate many problems that you may run into if you're not current on your Oracle patches.

What to I mean by patch up to current? If you're on E-Business Suite 11i, get to If you're on E-Business Release 12, be on 12.04. As part of doing so, check Oracle Metalink's "Certify" and make sure that you're on the latest releases of your middleware, database, and operating system products certified for your particular apps version - patch up or upgrade those components if you're not (and it's usually a good idea to patch up or upgrade these components before upgrading the apps suite).

Identify Your Customizations and Work Out A Plan For Each One

The most difficult and, frankly, the riskiest part of an upgrade to Fusion Architecture is and will be migrating customizations into that new environment. For example, if you've got some custom mod/plsql work, that stuff won't run in R12 (there is no supported mod/plsql in R12). Custom views or tables? You can't look to Oracle to anticipate your customizations and build a migration path as part of the product, for obvious cost reasons. Don't even get me started on custom Oracle Workflow processes.

My advice to avoid the pain and cost of moving your customizations forward? First, identify them. Second, map the functionality to the E-Business Suite and see if they can be eliminated. Some of those customizations you've been moving forward since 10.7SC can now be replaced by "vanilla" functionality. Third, if you can't replace the customization, plan out exactly how you'll bring it into the Oracle Fusion Architecture. Will you remodel a custom business process in BPEL? How about moving custom reports to BI Publisher?

Learn the Middleware Technology

The Fusion Architecture is really dominated by Fusion Middleware...if you understand the middleware, you're well on your way to understanding the entire Fusion Architecture. The difficult part? Fusion Middleware is a large and rapidly expanding category of Oracle products. It's a challenge to develop the needed detailed technical understanding of these products just due to the breadth of the product line. My suggestion here is to take an incremental approach, learning one key component or group of components (such as ADF or the Business Process Analysis tools) at a time through hands-on experience. And the best way to do this is by leveraging the Oracle Technology Network.

I'm continually amazed by the number of customers who don't know about the Oracle Technology Network ("OTN"). Great forums for talking about and trouble-shooting Oracle technology, best practice centers for extending Oracle applications with Fusion Middleware (EBS, PeopleSoft and Siebel), opportunities to download and try out Oracle technology and tools...the list goes on and on. You'll find most of the Fusion Middleware components available for download and exploration for free, the limitation here being that you can't build anything for a production environment without purchasing the appropriate license. OTN is the best means for learning the technology and taking a "try before you buy" approach to ramping up your knowledge and skills.

Build a Roadmap

Consider the core functions of your enterprise. Then consider what Oracle's Fusion-related products offer in terms of enhancing those core functions or expanding into new ones. You'll see some elements of Fusion Architecture that add value for you and some that don't. Limit your uptake to only those that offer enough value to make sense for you. Then build a plan with tasks and dates for the uptake. That's all there is to roadmapping...but it's a lot tougher than it sounds here.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The Oracle Fusion domain is changing rapidly. New products, sunsetting technologies, more acquisitions...the rate of change is dizzying. You'll need to keep track of those changes and adapt where appropriate. There are several great ways to keep track of the changes, but I've personally had my best luck with the Oracle Applications Users Group ("OAUG"). I get quite a bit of benefit from hearing the discussions between users about the changes and developments in the Fusion domain. I think these discussions and information exchanges will have even more value with the release of the Knowledge Factory.

As Chair of the OAUG Fusion Council this year, I'll do my best to get info pushed out for everyone as soon as it happens, both through the Knowledge Factory and this blog. In fact, the Fusion Council has a surprise or two in the works for sharing information about the evolution of the Fusion Architecture. Stay tuned!

At any rate, that's what I've got on my mind. As always, I encourage your thoughts and comments...


Gaby said...

Hi Floyd!

In regards to preparing to Fusion, what we did at my organization when we upgraded to last year is moving all the mod_plsql applications into Portlets leveraging still pl/sql generating the HTML. This made the conversion pretty easy as our staff had the skillset and tools available to them.

fteter said...

@Gaby: Nice - seems like an easy solution. I'll be interested to see how that works out for you as the technology continues to change.