Nowadays, most JD Edwards users know something about Oracle’s Applications Unlimited (AU) strategy that it announced in April 2006. However, I’ve been surprised — indeed, shocked — at how most people fail to recognize one of the most important implications of the strategy.

To understand what I’m talking about, allow me to provide a little background information. Under AU, Oracle will support and enhance its JD Edwards, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Siebel product lines indefinitely. The vendor will develop new releases of these products and continue to certify them on the latest releases of third-party products that support them. For instance, Oracle will continue to certify EnterpriseOne and World on new releases of IBM’s DB2 database and WebSphere middleware.

As part of AU, Oracle will incorporate technologies from its Fusion Applications — including support for service-oriented architectures — into all of its current applications. The vendor’s long-term goal is to create a body of web services that can be used not only by Fusion Applications, but also by its current products.

It is this incorporation of Fusion technologies into existing applications that carries such important and often unrecognized  implications for Oracle users. If Oracle executes on its AU vision, its multiple product lines will be able to invoke a common body of web services — which will include robust vertical industry functionality — via a common set of open standards. This could significantly expand their capabilities while enabling tighter integration between product lines.

What does this all this mean? It means that AU is not just about removing limits to Oracle’s support for its existing product lines. It is also about removing the architectural and functional limits on those applications so that they can support the expanding requirements of their users. Surprisingly, industry observers and customers have not understood this aspect of Oracle’s strategy, nor has Oracle done a good job of helping them understand it. Let’s hope that changes as the strategy plays itself out.