Over the last couple of years, a number of JD Edwards customers have asked me whether it makes sense to consider migrating to SAP applications. In most cases, these customers are OneWorld Xe users who have heavily customized their software. They want to take advantage of the new functionality in current EnterpriseOne releases, but shudder at the thought of the work they’ll have to do to migrate their customizations. That leaves them (and often their CEO) asking me, “Since it will probably take as much time to migrate our customizations as it would take to migrate to an entirely different application, why shouldn’t we consider jumping boat to SAP as a second option?”

In most cases, this is what I tell them. Migrating to another enterprise application vendor is the corporate equivalent of heart transplant surgery. It may be necessary under certain circumstances, but it is not something to be undertaken lightly. The complications can be severe, and even when the operation goes well there is lots of pain, lost time, and expense. While life may turn out to be wonderful after the procedure, the patient will have to face considerable risks to realize any reward.

On the other hand, JD Edwards users who upgrade their applications can often realize significant benefits at a fraction of the cost, risk, and pain associated with a migration. Such upgrades also let users take advantage of the SOA technologies that Oracle is baking into new JD Edwards releases. These technologies will also enable users to integrate their EnterpriseOne and World applications more easily with other software and with Oracle’s next-generation Fusion Applications. It will even help them to convert to Fusion Applications if they choose to do so at some time in the future. It is still not clear when Fusion Applications will be ready for JD Edwards customers to use or how they will stack up to SAP’s latest offerings. What is clear is that now is a poor time to bet on SAP unless there is an immediate and compelling reason to do so.

The questions that JD Edwards customers need to ask themselves are therefore:

  • How well is our existing software meeting our needs?
  • How long can we live effectively with what we have in place?
  • What is involved in upgrading to current JD Edwards releases?
  • What customizations do we have in place, how were they made, and how could they be retired as part of an upgrade?

It makes sense to consider vendors other than Oracle if the answer is that the current applications are inadequate and beyond repair, a situation that few will discover to be the case. Otherwise the question becomes: How can we make our existing applications easier to upgrade when our business requirements change?