In 2006, Andrews Consulting Group released a white paper entitled The Transformation of JD Edwards Applications that you can download from our white papers section. This year, we are revisiting the subject of how Oracle is transforming our applications with a new series of articles. We welcome your comments and questions as the series evolves.
When Oracle President Charles Phillips delivered his keynote speech at the vendor’s annual OpenWorld user conference last November, he gave the audience a simple roadmap to Oracle’s strategy for its products, including JD Edwards applications. As Phillips put it, the strategy consists of three deceptively simple mandates:
Be more complete. Give customers the functionality they need to seamlessly automate all their business processes without the functional fragmentation that is still common.
Be better integrated. Take the task of integrating software off the shoulders of customers by delivering a platform for integration.
Embrace open standards. Make the integration platform as open as possible so that IT professionals and vendors can access it regardless of their technology choices.
This article is the first in a series of columns that will take this simple strategy and explore what it means for the future of JD Edwards applications. In the articles, we will examine how Oracle plans to transform our applications of choice along the three dimensions of functional completeness, integration, and openness.
Since the subject of “functional completeness” is a hot but very big topic, we’re going to divide it up into at least two articles. In this article, we’ll give you a “big picture” view of what Oracle plans to do to make JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World more complete. Then, we’ll dive into the “secret sauce” that will make them more complete…how Oracle will improve their integration with the rest of its application portfolio. Next, we’ll explore the open standards that will make Oracle’s integration framework hang together and connect with the rest of the software world. Finally, we’ll return to the “functional completeness” topic to take a closer look at specific software functions that Oracle plans to integrate with JD Edwards applications.
Oracle’s Vision of Completeness
What do Phillips and his boss Larry Ellison mean when they talk about being “more complete”? When the dynamic duo is speaking with users of Oracle’s Application Unlimited (AU) products (E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Siebel), they have something very specific in mind. They envision a future in which all AU applications are all capable of automating a much broader array of horizontal and vertical industry business processes. Just as importantly, each AU application will source this added functionality from other Oracle applications and automate additional processes in much the same way. That is because each AU application will access the same functions (mainly in the form of web services) and the use the same methods to automate them.
To understand how sweeping of a vision this is, consider the following fact. Until recently, the AU products have largely been enhanced in isolation from each other. Each AU development team has developed most of its new functions from scratch. This is expensive and inefficient compared to having a single team work on new functions that could be shared among all four product families. If all the AU development teams worked together to automate new business processes just once for all AU products, the functional footprint of each product could expand much more rapidly. However, given the different development tools, middleware, and data models that each product uses, it has been virtually impossible for the AU development teams to work together in this fashion except in limited areas.
That, however, has been changing gradually within Oracle over the last couple of years. That is because each new release of the AU applications and their development toolsets is now certified on a growing number of Oracle’s Fusion Middleware products, its JDeveloper development environment, and the latest release of Oracle’s database.
This is making it easier for the AU development teams to leverage each other’s work to expand their functional footprints faster. Just as importantly, it is making it easier for these teams to leverage the code of other application vendors that Oracle has acquired. Many of these vendors have developed “best of breed” vertical and horizontal functionality that most of the AU products lack. They include Agile for product lifecycle management, Demantra for demand planning and management, G-Log for transportation management, Hyperion for financial and performance management, and several other vendors. These and other Oracle acquisitions are certifying their offerings to the same Fusion Middleware and tools as the AU products. That will make it easier for the AU products to act as integration gateways to much of the functionality in these “edge applications”, as Oracle calls them.
In short, Oracle envisions a world where users of its AU applications, including JD Edwards, can easily consume functions from other applications in its extensive portfolio as well as from those of Oracle’s partners. If there is a business process that a JD Edwards application does not automate, you will (ideally) be able to discover it, invoke it, and integrate it easily with your existing systems. In some cases, that integration will be provided via standard web services technologies in Oracle Fusion Middleware. In other cases, it will be delivered via separately packaged Oracle offerings that will integrate specific functions from other applications.
Clearly, Oracle wants its AU applications to assume broader functional footprints within the companies that use them. It wants to see functionality from its other applications take root in departments and business units that are poorly automated or use offerings from other vendors to manage their operations. Just as importantly, it wants this wave of new functionality to integrate seamlessly with the Oracle code that is already running at customer sites. Of course, that won’t happen within our community unless the added functionality the software giant offers is top rate and truly does integrate easily with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World. Just how Oracle will pull off the “integrate easily” part of this equation will be the subject for our next article, so stay tuned.