1 : the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity; especially : coordinated movement of the two eyes so that the image of a single point is formed on corresponding retinal areas
2 : the state or property of being convergent
3 : independent development of similar characters (as of bodily structure of unrelated organisms or cultural traits) often associated with similarity of habits or environment
4 : the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole
"Convergence." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
We're seeing convergence in process, right now, in Oracle's enterprise applications. Some examples:
Simplified UI: Take a look at Simplified UI in Fusion Applications Release 8. Then look again at the Simplified UI recently announced for the E-Business Suite. And then take another look at the new UI for PeopleSoft 9.2. They're all looking and working in a similar fashion. Built on different technologies, to be sure, but providing a similar user experience. Functional design patterns are driving a convergence in the user experience for Oracle's packaged applications.
Continuous Delivery: PeopleSoft uses a continuous delivery model - feature packs developed incrementally, then automatically distributed to end users for review and application in an incremental fashion. Not upgrades, but incremental enhancements of the existing version...which may eventually lead to the end of major upgrade events for PeopleSoft altogether. With online patching as of release 12.2, the E-Business Suite seems headed in the same direction. With Fusion on the cloud as SaaS, moving to a continuous delivery model is not a difficult matter (in fact, short of the branding of new releases and the perception that branding creates, Fusion Applications is already built on a continuous delivery model).
Cloud: The convergence here seems to be one of industry strategy. Commercial industries on cloud, public sector industries on cloud, and the recently announced clouds directed at the higher education space. Oracle is utilizing their basic cloud applications services, then supplementing with additional services built for specific industries. Again, the higher education market is the best example of this: Student Cloud, Higher Education Cloud, and new higher education specific functionality for Fusion Applications.
These are simply the most visible examples of the convergence trend taking place within Oracle's enterprise applications. There are more taking place, and I'm sure the future holds even more. We're barely at the beginning of this trend.
The real question here: what does this mean for the customers? IMHO, it's significant...but each customer will probably come up with different answers. Just some ideas to get the gears turning: co-existence between different Oracle applications with a single, consistent user experience; hybrid platforms running transactions on-premise, but with big data processed on the cloud to provide information through a combination of transactional reporting and embedded analytics; moving from teams supporting major upgrade efforts to small teams engaged in continuous delivery, thus freeing up more resources for important, strategically-oriented work.
That's all I can jam into this post without turning it into an epistle. Hopefully I've left you with your brain cells jiggling about what convergence within Oracle's enterprise applications means to you. Thoughts? Comments? You know what to do.