by Alex Woodie
Ever since Oracle obtained JD Edwards several years ago, some JD Edwards customers have been skeptical about Oracle's commitment to the products, its commitment to customers, and its business application roadmap. Last week at the Oracle OpenWorld 09 conference in San Francisco, the software giant did its best to turn the skeptics into believers when it committed to supporting JD Edwards products for a decade, and promised to deliver the next-generation Fusion applications next year.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is not normally known for being the touchy-feely type. His hostile takeover of PeopleSoft in 2004 was both brutal and personal, and was an excellent example of his ruthless approach to achieving supremacy in the cutthroat enterprise application business.
But in a keynote speech from Oracle OpenWorld last Wednesday, Ellison made a rare display of understanding and compassion for his acquired customers. There was nothing emotional in Ellison's statement, nor anything to suggest that Oracle's strategy was wrong. But it does give a rare glimpse into the Oracle chief's outlook, and tells us that he doesn't always view customers as pawns in his power plays.
Here is what Ellison said:
"We understand that our customers have an enormous investment in Siebel applications, in E Business Suite applications, in JD Edwards applications, in PeopleSoft applications, a huge investment and commitment to those technologies," he told the audience. "And we're going to continue to enhance those applications for the next decade and beyond, we're absolutely committed to doing that."
He added: "We can afford to not only maintain the software you're running today, but also build the software you may want to move to tomorrow."
This is significant for JD Edwards shops that run on IBM Power Systems and System i technology because it shows that Oracle will continue to support and enhance products that run on i OS and i5/OS. Now, whether rivals Oracle and IBM will actually drop their gloves long enough to work together toward their System i and Power Systems customers' best interests will always be debated. But it's a show of good faith, which is something that has sometimes been lacking when Oracle discusses its overall strategy.
Ellison's statements are also significant because it suggests Oracle is continuing to be pragmatic about Fusion Applications, which the company said will become available sometime in 2010.
Oracle made a number of other announcements--it made a total of 47 announcements over the three-day show--and some of them had a JD Edwards angle. For example, a new release of Oracle's BI Applications now features a prebuilt integration for JD Edwards World, the company's only ERP product that runs exclusively on the IBM System i platform.
The BI integration was accomplished through a new adapter that integrates Oracle Financial Analytics, a module of the Oracle BI Applications, with Oracle's JD Edwards World Financial Management version A9.2.
According to Oracle, the integration enables front-line managers relying on JD Edwards World to improve the financial performance of their companies by giving them complete and timely information on their departments' expenses, payables, receivables, and revenue contributions.
Company executives at the show also showcased how the Primavera project management software works with its various ERP suites, including JD Edwards. Oracle acquired Primavera in October 2008.
Oracle also gave a heads up on a massive issue of security patches expected to be released this week. A total of 38 patches will be issued, including at least one for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.