I spent most of last week in Nashville at the Collaborate 06 conference. The conference was a merger of three Oracle Users Groups: Quest Direct (traditionally the JD Edwards users group but now extends to include PeopleSoft), IOUG (Independent Oracle Users Group) and OAUG (Oracle Applications Users Group). Despite the alphabet soup of user group names, some very interesting themes emerged from the conference. I’ll try this week to cover the most interesting ones that I saw.
Repeat after Me, “Protect, Extend, Evolve”
Apparently the folks in Oracle’s marketing group have been talking to the folks in Oracle’s PR group. I guess the existing “Not a rip and replace” messaging wasn’t really making the customers swoon. So, after a small shift in gears, they have launched a new “Protect, Extend, Evolve” messaging campaign. This was clearly Oracle’s mantra at Collaborate. It appeared on every presentation given by an Oracle executive that I saw.
Setting aside catchy phrase work, this actually signals a pretty dramatic shift in strategy for Oracle with regard to its installed customer base, especially PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. Basically it appears that most of Oracle’s non-EBS customers were in a wait and see holding pattern after Oracle’s Fusion announcements in January. As the industry’s analysis has turned from luke warm to luke cold on this announcement (you can see my write up or take a look at some of the more Gartner’s recent commentary on the practical costs of moving to Fusion), this has made PeopleSoft and JD Edwards very ripe targets for SAP (and its subsidiary TomorrowNow [full disclosure – TomorrowNow is a customer of Newmerix]). My guess is that the customer exodus has been quicker than anyone at Oracle expected and the folks at Redwood Shores are trying to stem the tide a bit.
And, as usual, Oracle messaging is not just rhetoric – they are actually trying to back it up with product announcements. A few notable announcements from the Collaborate conference:
- PeopleSoft 8.48 is coming and PeopleSoft 8.49 is planned (a vague 2007 date was given)
- PeopleSoft 9.x applications are coming and there is “commitment” to a release after 9.0 (although no specifics could be given by John Webb, VP Application Strategy who filled in for Jesper at Collaborate)
- A new release of JD Edwards is now available with more features on the way
- The Announcement of an “Applications Unlimited” program claiming Oracle will continue to develop all application platforms for the foreseeable future
I am sure in the next few weeks we’ll see even more buttressing of this new positioning – that you won’t have to retire your applications, that Oracle will support them, and that moving to Fusion will be on the customers’ terms and not Oracles.