Oracle Fusion apps: Is 2010 delivery too little, too late?

In the world of high-tech product announcements, 18 January, 2006, seems like an awfully long time ago. On that date, Oracle executives, including President Charles Phillips, boasted that they were halfway through the Oracle Fusion Applications development process.

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Fusion Apps was envisioned and pitched as a killer enterprise application suite: a combination of the best features and functionalities taken from Oracle's expansive E-Business Suite, J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines.

Oracle's master plan, noted Phillips, was to "build the next-generation of applications that are completely standard; to be the first company on the planet to build a full suite of applications for large and small companies based on standards."

Almost three years later, the planet is still waiting for the first generation of Oracle's suite of Fusion Apps.

Was Oracle too ambitious, on a technology level? "The delay is not all that surprising given the scope of what Oracle is attempting to undertake with Fusion Apps," says Dwight Davis, a senior analyst at Ovum. "There's just so much that Oracle has taken on its plate with Fusion: It's not just SOA; it's web 2.0, integrating business intelligence as sort of a pervasive element of Fusion Apps. They're making a clear shift from siloed applications to focusing on more end-to-end business processes that flow across the modules."

In addition to the technical complexities of the last few years, two notable Oracle executives have left, casting a dark cloud over the Fusion project: SVP of Oracle applications John Wookey departed in October 2007, and Jesper Andersen exited in late summer 2008. Andersen was known internally as "Mr. Fusion."

"With Fusion," Davis says, "given the ambitious nature and the scope-how it's looking to be all things to all technologies-makes it quite a daunting undertaking."

But some other analysts say that Oracle has seemingly been talking the talk and not walking the walk. "This was bigger than Oracle thought in the first place," says Yvonne Genovese, a VP and analyst at Gartner. The fact that Oracle has acquired dozens of vendors' product sets over the years, including the recent BEA deal, and that Oracle wants to include those products' features into the Fusion Apps, which could change its underlying architecture, makes finishing Fusion Apps that much more complicated.

"It's difficult to build on a moving target," Genovese adds.

What's the real holdup, Larry?

Industry speculation as to why the Fusion Apps Suite hasn't been released abounds, mostly because Oracle executives have been so tight-lipped about the product set for so long. At the OpenWorld 2008 show in September, for instance, CEO Larry Ellison spent hardly any time discussing it.

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