Review


John Wookey now works for Oracle's archrival SAP

Last night, rumors began spreading that John Wookey, the former head of applications development at Oracle, has accepted a new post at Oracle archrival SAP. Today, SAP confirmed the news. Wookey, who left Oracle 13 months ago for reasons that the company has never disclosed, is now Executive Vice President of Large Enterprise On Demand at SAP. In his new position, Wookey will play a critical role in crafting the software as a service (SaaS) capabilities of SAP’s flagship products. That, by extension, will affect how SAP competes with Oracle for enterprise accounts.

According to an SAP spokesman, Wookey began work at the German software giant this Monday. He is reporting to Jim Hagemann Snabe, a member of the company’s executive board who is responsible for development of its SAP Business Suite applications and NetWeaver middleware products. In a statement issued today, SAP said that “Wookey will work with several of our large enterprise on-demand solution offerings (including SAP CRM on-demand solutions) and develop more relevant on-demand offerings. It is our aim to unite these offerings with a singular strategy for increased innovation and enhancement under Wookey’s leadership.”

As this quote indicates, SAP intends to get much more serious about creating a compelling SaaS strategy for large enterprises over the next several years. Does this mean that SAP will unveil a comprehensive hosted product for enterprises similar to its Business ByDesign for mid-sized companies? I sincerely doubt it, as the scope and complexity of such a product would make it ill suited for delivery via a 100% SaaS model. What is more likely is that SAP will, over time, move Business Suite to a hybrid “software plus services” model in which new capabilities are delivered via the Internet cloud. This model, which is similar to the one that SAP ally Microsoft is pursuing, could make it easier for Business Suite users to deploy new functionality.

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Back in September, Oracle used its OpenWorld user conference to pledge that it would deliver more training via the web and other virtual channels. Over the last several weeks, the software giant has begun to deliver on its promise. New training resources are coming on line that will make it easier and less expensive to get up to speed on JD Edwards products. That’s welcome news in these tough economic times.

If you have ever traveled hundreds of miles to attend an Oracle University workshop, you know that such training can burn a hole in the pockets of your corporate budget. Acknowledging this problem, Oracle University used OpenWorld to announce a new Live Virtual Class format. In this format, instructors teach the same content provided in off-site workshops, but do so over the web. Participants are able to ask questions, get answers, and perform exercises in much the same way as they would in a traditional classroom. The Live Virtual format lets JD Edwards professionals enhance their skills no matter where they may live, eliminate expensive travel, and minimize productivity losses.

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Last week, we offered four of our top takeaways from Oracle’s OpenWorld 2008 user conference. This week, we’re back to offer more, and with a special emphasis on JD Edwards applications to boot. So join with me as we share not only what we learned from the sessions we attended, but also what we picked up from private talks with the JD Edwards team. To maintain continuity with our previous article and its four takeaways, we’ll start with…

Takeaway #5 — The EnterpriseOne and World development teams are adopting a more collaborative approach to how they enhance the two product suites. At OpenWorld sessions and casual meetings, managers and developers from both teams stated that they are working more closely with each other to roll out the same technologies on both products. In most cases, these projects involve the World team taking technologies from the EnterpriseOne team and adapting them to World’s unique architecture. A good example of such collaboration is the recently announced integration between World A9.1 and Demantra Demand Planning. This offering appeared first for EnterpriseOne 8.11 SP1 and 8.12, then was reworked for the World A9.1 environment.

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With Oracle’s OpenWorld 2008 conference behind us, it’s time to share our insights from this annual mother of all software meetings. Because of the sheer size and scope of OpenWorld, it is best to start any analysis of it from the proverbial 40,000-foot level, then drill down on the more interesting features. With that in mind, this article offers four of our high-level takeaways from the show. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Takeaway #1 — Oracle’s roadmap for JD Edwards applications remains clear and promising. During the conference, Oracle took great pains to demonstrate its commitment to enhancing and evolving both EnterpriseOne and World for years to come. It announced EnterpriseOne 9.0 and EnterpriseOne Tools 8.98. It also unveiled an integration between World A9.1 and Demantra Demand Planning as well as the first User Productivity Kits for World.

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Among the technology projects that companies are pursuing today, one of the most risky, expensive, and failure-prone among them is building a data warehouse. While data warehouses can deliver enormous benefits, creating and maintaining one on your own is fraught with difficulties that can easily undermine your efforts. In this article, I will explain why this is the case. I will also offer a way to implement a data warehouse that can deliver greater benefits than a homegrown warehouse with considerably less risk.

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Last week, Oracle announced plans to retire Web Services Gateway (WSG) and Extended Process Integration (XPI) from JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. While the company has made noises about putting these offerings out to pasture for some time, the announcement puts definite dates on the event.

Beginning September 1, 2008, Oracle will no longer offer WSG with EnterpriseOne Tools. However, existing users will still be able to access WSG via the Update Center. In addition, Oracle will provide Premier Support for the offering through October 1, 2010. This means that WSG will continue to receive updates, fixes, and certifications for new EnterpriseOne releases. After October 1, 2010, WSG will move to Sustaining Support, which provides technical assistance and pre-existing fixes for known issues.

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When Oracle boosted list prices for its database and middleware products last month, it was not clear whether it had also changed prices for its applications. This week, however, Oracle sources told us that the company did update prices for its applications, including many EnterpriseOne and World offerings. That update increased prices for many products by approximately 15 percent in the United States and the United Kingdom. In all fairness to Oracle, prices in some regions remained unchanged or even decreased.

To understand what Oracle has done, one first must realize that the company offers three licensing models for its applications. Component licenses are for small “a la carte” purchases of one to several products. Custom Application Suite (CAS) licenses are used for purchases of software bundles that are priced by the bundle user (otherwise known as a CAS user). Enterprise licenses are used for purchases by larger companies that have many internal and external users.

With that brief licensing lesson in mind, let’s look at Oracle’s pricing action. According to Oracle, the price increases apply to Component and CAS prices for all EnterpriseOne and World products. From the information we have received so far, Component prices for U.S. and U.K. customers rose by 15 percent for all JD Edwards products. CAS prices for these countries also rose across the board, though we are still trying to determine by how much.

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Two days ago, Oracle hosted a webcast in which it announced how it will integrate BEA and its products into Fusion Middleware. While the webcast answered many questions about where Oracle plans to take BEA products over the next several years, it raised fresh questions about the implications of Oracle’s strategy for JD Edwards users.

To get a sense of what those questions might be, let’s dive into the announcement itself to analyze Oracle’s product roadmap. During the webcast, Oracle Senior VP Thomas Kurian explained that the vendor has divided BEA’s products into three groups.

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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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Yesterday, IBM announced that it is replacing its System i and System p product lines with a single, unified family of POWER6 processor-based servers. The new server line — known as Power Systems — will deliver improved price/performance, greater energy efficiency, greater flexibility, and a simplified pricing structure to System i and System p customers. The unification of the System i and p will have a significant impact on the choices of thousands of JD Edwards customers who rely on these servers.

While IBM has not yet announced all of the models that will make up the new Power Systems lineup, it made a good start on the project yesterday. Here’s a quick overview of what Big Blue unveiled.

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While the JD Edwards Advisor is (in our humble opinion) the best darn site on the blogosphere for EnterpriseOne and World users, it isn’t the only place to go. There are dozens of great blogs to visit. In fact, I’m going to show you two of them right now. While one covers just about anything that has to do with Oracle, the other focuses like Bill Clinton’s proverbial laser on a single hot topic. Without further ado, here they are.

Oracle Infogram. If you’re looking for a “blog hub” that can connect you to new sites and new ideas, check out this site. Oracle Infogram grabs anything interesting that its editorial team finds from blogs, Oracle Metalink notes, and corporate announcements. The Infogram team has peppered the site with links to all kinds of interesting resources. The group also tosses in some interesting commentary along the way.

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i5os-v6r1-logo.jpgLast Tuesday, IBM unveiled a new version of i5/OS, the operating system at the heart of its System i. The version — i5/OS V6R1 — contains enhancements that could help JD Edwards customers who run their applications on Big Blue’s venerable midrange server. Among the dozens of new features in V6R1, the following ones are standouts for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World users.

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Last week, Oracle demonstrated once again that like the Godfather, it can make offers to other software vendors that they cannot refuse. The company announced that middleware rival BEA has agreed to become part of Oracle for $8.5 billion in cash, or $19.375 per share. While the deal cost Larry Ellison and his crew significantly more than the $17 per share they originally bid for BEA, it was less than the $21 per share that BEA insisted it was worth. With the stock market tanking and taking tech shares down with it, BEA undoubtedly realized that it would be a long time before it would see a better offer.

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As 2007 winds down, we thought it would be fun to share our best guesses as to what the new year might bring for the JD Edwards community. Hopefully, some of you will share your own predictions in the comments section.

First, a general observation: Oracle and JD Edwards are both currently riding high. After a long period where new sales were rare and installed customers were under attack, the market for everything out of Denver took a turn upward in 2007. Those currently using JD Edwards are no longer under pressure to justify staying on the platform. Sales to new customers have become a routine event, especially within emerging world markets and in the industries where JD Edwards has always been strong.

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Last week, SAP unveiled an entirely new line of applications that represent the company’s first foray into the “software as a service” (SaaS) market. As the world’s largest enterprise application vendor, SAP has the potential to take the SaaS market by storm with its latest offering and challenge Oracle in a new product segment in the process. However, it will take years of work and a little luck for SAP to become a leading SaaS player.

The new applications, known as SAP Business ByDesign (or BBD for short), took four years and roughly $400 million for SAP to build from scratch. By starting from a clean slate, SAP was able to design BDD using a “no compromises” service-oriented architecture (SOA). While the applications are new, they run on SAP’s existing NetWeaver middleware platform and leverage its support for SOA. Like similar products from Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and other SaaS vendors, BBD is only available as a hosted offering.

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lenley-hensarling-with-caption.jpgLate last month, significant changes took place within the EnterpriseOne development team that works at the JD Edwards campus in Denver and other locations overseas. That is because Oracle asked Lenley Hensarling, Vice President for both EnterpriseOne and World, to form a new team that will develop “cross platform” products and technologies. These offerings will support JD Edwards and all other Applications Unlimited (AU) products as well as Oracle’s upcoming Fusion Applications. By basing the new cross-platform team in Denver, Oracle has given its EnterpriseOne developers a vote of confidence and an opportunity to meet the emerging needs of all of its AU customers. The vendor has also given its customers a sign that it will gradually make its far-flung AU development teams work in a coordinated fashion on a common body of enhancements.

According to sources close to Oracle, the new team will work on technology products that span and enhance the AU product lines — E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Siebel. Initially, the team will work on enhancements to Oracle WebCenter, a suite of web services that delivers a unified, Web 2.0-like interface to both enterprise and portal-based applications. In the near future, the team will work on additional cross-platform products such as Secure Enterprise Search, Database Vault, and Enterprise Manager.

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One month ago, Oracle President Charles Phillips dedicated most of his keynote speech at the Collaborate conference to announcing a new technology initiative: Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA). When an Oracle president kicks off a conference in this way, it must mean that AIA is a big deal. Knowing this, we have been on a quest on your behalf to figure out exactly what AIA is all about and whether it is of any great consequence to the JD Edwards community.

The bottom line is that AIA is important. However, its near term relevance to you depends on the size and complexity of your application environment. For the roughly 200 top-end JD Edwards customers, AIA is definitely something that needs to be understood soon. Everyone else will be impacted by AIA in the fullness of time, but need not be highly concerned at this moment.

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I just read a new report from my colleagues at Andrews Consulting Group that I would recommend to any JD Edwards professional. The report, Why You Need a Data Warehouse, explains how a properly designed data warehouse can improve query, reporting, and analysis of JD Edwards data by orders of magnitude. I’ve posted the report on our Research and White Papers page where anyone can download it. I encourage you to do so.

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If you went to Collaborate last week, chances are good that you heard an Oracle executive mention some recent management changes within the company’s Applications Group. While the changes were subtle, they could influence the course of JD Edwards applications in ways that are difficult to foresee at this point. That makes the changes important enough for us to watch Oracle closely and see if it behaves differently in the coming months.

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Ho hum…Earlier this month, Oracle spent another $3.3 billion buying a major software vendor. This time it was Hyperion, the leading provider of software for financial consolidation, budgeting, and planning. Those of us who thought Oracle’ acquisition appetite might be satisfied for now were wrong again. A pattern seems to have formed – Oracle makes a major acquisition each winter and fills in with smaller ones in the warmer seasons.

While the Hyperion deal is obviously a big deal for Oracle, the near term relevance to JD Edwards customers appears to be limited. As another clue to the puzzle that is Oracle’s applications and business intelligence (BI) strategy, however, this plot twist is worth examining.

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