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I’ve been poring over the latest studies of information technology spending from the big research firms and, while I hate to say it, the numbers are looking increasingly ugly. For weeks, analysts have been slashing their forecasts faster than Wal-Mart’s “smiley face” can slap lower prices on underwear and cheap TVs.

Take Gartner Group, for instance. Earlier this year, the Connecticut-based firm forecasted that 2009 IT spending would increase by 5.8 percent over 2008 levels. In October, the company lowered that figure to 2.3 percent. Last week, Gartner confessed that its 2009 forecast now hovers between 0 and 2.3 percent. It also said that if recession strikes the major economies hard, spending could go into reverse and shrink by up to 2.5 percent.

By contrast, International Data Corporation (IDC) is a little more optimistic, if a meager 2.6 percent growth rate could be called good news. The bad news is that IDC expects 2009 spending to grow by less than 1 percent in the developed parts of the world, with most of the forecasted increase coming from developing countries.

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While JD Edwards customers have lots of business issues on their minds nowadays, there are several problems that our team at Andrews Consulting Group hears about more often than others. Among those problems, here are two that rank up there with the best (or worst) of them:

  • Containing shipping expenditures at a time when transportation costs are skyrocketing and corporate executives are demanding expense reductions
     
  • Implementing IT systems to support corporate governance, risk management, and regulatory compliance that don’t cost a million and eat up precious staff resources

Fortunately, some software vendors are working on solutions to these dilemmas that are tailored to JD Edwards customers. Two of those vendors — Ategrity Limited and Varsity Logistics — have crafted products that focus on JD Edwards World users. Ategrity offers TRACE for JD Edwards World™, a tool that integrates with World’s Database Audit Manager (DBAM) to deliver advanced auditing of system and data changes. Varsity Logistics provides ShipSoft™ for YourWorld, a shipping automation and control solution that is priced for small-to-midsized businesses.

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Over the last several months, Oracle has provided significant evidence that it will continue to enhance JD Edwards World well after it rolls out the first release of its Fusion Applications. This is an encouraging sign that the software giant is living up to its Applications Unlimited pledge to invest in JD Edwards software rather than orchestrate a forced march to new products.

The latest evidence of Oracle’s commitment to World surfaced at the COLLABORATE 08 user conference last month. Here is a summary of what we learned from the sessions we attended and the executives we interviewed at the event.

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Now that IBM has announced a new line of Power Systems and a new version of the i5/OS operating system, JD Edwards customers are asking, “Should I run my applications on this stuff?” To help you answer that question, here are some important things you need to know before you give Big Blue a call.

The Basics

First off, here are the essential facts about what IBM has done. This month, the company completely replaced its System i and System p servers with new line of Power Systems. All of the systems run on the latest POWER6 processors. Each model in the Power Systems line comes in IBM i, AIX, and Linux Editions. These editions are configured to meet the unique requirements of each operating system and the customer bases that use them. Here’s an IBM diagram that shows how the computer giant unified the System i and System p lines.

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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.

As I explained in the previous article in this series, Oracle wants to make it easy for users of its Applications Unlimited (AU) products — including JD Edwards — to invoke “best of breed” functions from other Oracle applications. Oracle is repackaging these functions as composite business processes that other applications can access via service-oriented architectures (SOAs). The technologies that make all of this possible are contained in Oracle’s Application Integration Architecture (AIA).

Over the next one to two years, Oracle plans to implement AIA fully within almost all of its applications. This could make it possible for the then-current JD Edwards releases to invoke functions from other AU applications, Fusion Applications, and software that Oracle has acquired from Agile, Demantra, G-Log, and other vendors.

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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.

As I explained in our first article in this series, Oracle has set an ambitious goal for itself. That goal is to make it easy for all of its Applications Unlimited (AU) offerings—including JD Edwards—to invoke functions from the rest of Oracle’s vast application portfolio. This would make each AU product significantly more complete than it is today.

If Oracle realizes its vision, it could make life dramatically different for JD Edwards customers. A company might, for instance, integrate functions from Oracle’s Agile, Demantra, G-Log, and Siebel products under the covers of EnterpriseOne or World. Indeed, it might even integrate some of the latest Fusion Applications in the same way. In some cases, these integrations would require the deployment of selected components of the integrated applications. In other cases, the customer would invoke the functions from an Oracle-hosted site. Either way, the resulting integrations would be virtually seamless, with data flowing almost effortlessly between the new functions and the underlying JD Edwards applications.

How could Oracle make it so easy for JD Edwards and other AU customers to close the functionality gaps in their existing applications? The answer lies in two strategic initiatives that the software giant has been pursuing for more than two years. The first initiative is to repackage much of the “best of breed” functionality in its applications as composite business processes. These processes will integrate with AU applications and each other via a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The second initiative is to create an “integration platform” that governs how composite business processes are created and defines how they interoperate with AU applications over SOAs.

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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.

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 When local and regional governments put out RFPs for business software, many overlook JD Edwards applications as viable options. That, however, is something that Oracle is trying to change with EnterpriseOne. Over the last several months, the company has been quietly focusing its resources on promoting EnterpriseOne among local governments. In response, we have just published a new white paper that examines what EnterpriseOne has to offer the public sector. You can download the paper from our white papers section or from Oracle’s web site.

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During the challenging period from 2003 to 2005, our studies of the JD Edwards user base indicate that the EnterpriseOne product line was losing more accounts than it was winning. Today, however, EnterpriseOne is experiencing a modest yet significant reversal. Based on discussions with sources inside and outside of Oracle, Andrews Consulting Group concludes that EnterpriseOne is once again experiencing a net gain in customers. Moreover, existing customers are stepping up their investments in the software as well. Interestingly, much of the new account growth is coming from emerging economies and from companies that are smaller than typical customers.

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On behalf of everyone at Andrews Consulting Group, I’d like to welcome you to  our new blog about all things JD Edwards. As a company that specializes in helping JD Edwards users realize the value of their IT systems, we’ve accumulated a lot of intelligence about EnterpriseOne, World, and the systems and software that support them. Over the past two years, we’ve also worked hard to understand what is going on inside Oracle and how it will affect our clients. Indeed, you may have seen some of the white papers we’ve published on this topic, such as The Road Ahead for JD Edwards Customers.

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