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Oracle Fusion Will Come In With A Whimper

Posted by Bob Warfield on November 16, 2007

I just read over on ZDNet that Oracle’s initial Fusion offerings will not be real applications at all.  Rather, they’re CRM applets.  Apparently Larry Ellison really floundered with questions about where the real suite would come from.

It gets worse.  When I saw the screenshots, I realized these are the modules Oracle is building Flex UI’s for.  What’s wrong with that?  Nothing, I love the Adobe Flex product, I’m using it myself to build the SmoothSpan client.  But, and this is a big but, Flex is an extremely powerful tool for producing Flashy UI.  It makes me wonder whether Oracle has invested at all in the backend behind that UI.  When I hear they’re building minor modules, not real applications, and the minor modules are Flex, I start to have visions of very very few people actually working on Fusion at all, or at least very few working on anything that’s coming out near term.

That’s in huge contrast to SAP’s boil-the-ocean By Design product, but it’s completely in keeping with what I’ve heard from Oracle people I’ve talked to.  For them, Fusion was something someone else, someone they didn’t even know was working on.

I see this latest news as further confirmation of what I surmised when John Wookey left:  Fusion is badly off track.  We may or may not ever see a real rewrite of the ERP suite to produce a modern architecture.  What is certain is we won’t see it any time soon.

What remains is to ponder what impact this will have on the company.  They’re doing extremely well, so it may not matter.  What pressure they’re feeling comes from SAP, SaaS, and Open Source.  SAP isn’t exactly racing By Design to market for their own reasons.  SaaS and Open Source are much bigger threats.  If the world finally figures out that MySQL can be made to scale as well as Oracle as many of the biggest web businesses have proven, it will be a dark day for Oracle because the DB franchise is the heart and soul of that company.

Oracle has tried some counterpunches.  They went after RedHat, but that doesn’t appear to have produced results.  They say they’re going after the SaaS CRM market for big enterprise.  We will see how much impact that has.  Currently, their own SaaS business is large by most standards at over half a billion dollars, but very unprofitable according to their last 10K. 

Still Oracle can keep doing what it has learned to do best: it can keep acquiring.  At least for a while.  At some point, it will hard to find enough fish of sufficient size to gobble up that will make a difference.

One Response to “Oracle Fusion Will Come In With A Whimper”

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