Oracle's 'X' FactorBy Renee Boucher Ferguson | Print
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"Project X" would make it easier for users to get software without a major upgrade.Oracle is developing a new service-oriented architecture strategy that could overtake the momentum around its Fusion Applications initiative, according to sources close to the company.
In his keynote address April 16 at the annual Oracle Applications Users Group conference in Las Vegas, Oracle Co-President Charles Phillips is expected to announce a composite application strategy, code-named Project X, that is essentially an application integration framework designed to enable users to pull together the best functionality from Oracle's various application stacks, based on a specific business process, the sources said.
"It's a set of processes that take the best of pieces from [for example] I-flex, Siebel [and] Oracle and deliver that to the customer as a single process," said a source, who requested anonymity. "Behind the scene, [the integration framework] grabs different pieces from the Oracle architectureyou have to have a basic underpinning that's going to define a customer across all the suitesthen [adds] process orchestration to define the best-of-breed workflows you can do."
While the technical details and scope of processes defined in the integration framework are unclear, the general idea is that Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., will develop its own composite applications as well as provide users with the services necessary to stitch together their own composites based on a process.
One example is the customer on-boarding process for the telecommunications industry that might pull functionality from Siebel, Oracle E-Business Suite and Net4Call. All users will need, according to sources, is the latest version of Fusion Middleware to use the integration framework.
More important, a migration to Fusion Applications, expected next year, will not be necessary to access functionality from the myriad suites Oracle has amassed through acquisitionsa total of 28 companies since January 2005. So a JD Edwards customer using the integration framework could have access to G-Log's logistics hub, Demantra's demand planning capabilities or Siebel's CRM (customer relationship management) functionality without having to license the suites themselves or wait for Fusion Applications, Oracle's effort to bring together functionality from Oracle E-Business Suite and a number of its acquired suites.
However, the development of Project X raises the question of whether an integration framework negates the need for Fusion Applications. The integration framework "doesn't take away the need for Oracle to develop Fusion Applications, but the likelihood that this overshadows Fusion Applications is pretty high," said Gartner analyst Yvonne Genovese. "What Oracle missed when they first made the announcement of Fusion is that users are very committed to the applications they have acquired, and they don't want to take them out."
Other observers say the integration framework negates the need for Fusion Applicationsunless there's an instance where a user wants to replace his or her current implementation to get the latest technology from Oracle.
Oracle is late to the game with a composite application strategy. SAP started talking about composite applications, or xApps, around 2003 with its Enterprise Services Architecture Strategy. The company has developed a composite application framework that supports model-driven application composition, a user interface layer and a collaboration framework to relate any service or object from SAP's Netweaver to any other business object, according to the company's Web site.
Infor Global Solutions, which has acquired a number of companies to become the third-largest business applications provider behind SAP and Oracle, also has an SOA strategy that enables users to build composites based on a process, using a framework the company developed.
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