Oracle Promises Easier Upgrade to E-Business Software Suite

Rolls out first major release in six years, hopes to avoid previous migration woes

NEW YORK -- For the first time in six years, Oracle Corp. is shipping a new version of its flagship E-Business Suite applications, and company officials vowed last week that upgrading won’t be as challenging as moving to the last release was.

During a launch event here, Oracle announced the availability of E-Business Suite 12, saying the new software is easier to use than its 11i predecessor and more tightly integrated with the company’s Fusion Middleware technology and the various other business applications Oracle has acquired in recent years.

In addition, Oracle said Version 12 has been tested thoroughly in an attempt to avoid the upgrade headaches many users experienced with 11i, which had glitches that required extensive patching and testing when it was first released. John Wookey, senior vice president of applications development at Oracle, called Version 12 “bulletproof” and said the company had focused on ensuring an easy migration from 11i.

A Positive Sign

Jan Wagner, president of the independent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), said Version 12 demonstrates Oracle’s commitment to continued investment in its existing applications, even as it moves forward with a plan to combine them into a best-of-breed product line. “It shows users have chosen an application with a future,” he said.

Wagner is the London-based director of financial operations and internal review at NATO, which uses Oracle’s 11i financial applications. Having seen previews of Version 12 before the launch, he noted that one of the enhancements is an improved reporting capability using Oracle’s Java-based XML Publisher software, which is part of the Fusion Middleware suite.

XML Publisher enables nontechnical users to create their own reports in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat for easier collaboration with co-workers. NATO has strict financial reporting rules, and Wagner said the new reporting functions could make it easier to generate shared reports without the help of a database administrator.

David Rudzinsky, CIO at Hologic Inc., a Bedford, Mass.-based medical instruments maker, said he hopes the quality of the Version 12 software is as good as that of the 5.10 release of E-Business Suite 11i, which his company currently uses. He added that Hologic will put Version 12 through extensive testing before deciding whether undertaking an upgrade would be worthwhile.

Oracle's E-Business Suite 12 apps include:

•  A modified graphical user interface that uses technology from Oracles PeopleSoft Enterprise applications.•  Tools designed to help multinational companies better analyze profitability across their global lines of business.•  Thirty new human resources localization enhancements aimed at compliance with international regulations. •  A role-based HR template that can be used to more easily manage the entire hiring process.

“The cost of upgrading makes us look closer to be sure there is payback,” Rudzinsky said, adding that Hologic is happy with 11i 5.10 and could wait and then upgrade directly to the best-of-breed Fusion Applications without investing in Version 12. He said he also wants to hear more about Oracle’s plans for its Siebel CRM applications and how they fit into the Fusion strategy.

Basheer Khan, a member of the OAUG executive committee, said that Oracle has been touting an overall commitment to product quality and that he doesn’t think there should be any fears about Version 12 being buggy.

OAUG members did have some concerns about pricing, said Khan, who is president and CEO of Oracle consulting firm Innowave Technology LLC in Irvine, Calif. “But now Oracle has said there are no upgrade fees,” he added. “It’s just like another upgrade.”

China Martens of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon