Report: Oracle Applications 11i Is Finally Ready for Prime Time
Wednesday, November 21, 2001, 11:02 AM ET.
원본출처 : http://www.internetweek.com/story/INW20011121S0002
By Mitch Wagner
Eighteen months after Oracle shipped the latest version of its application suite, Oracle has at last solved its stability problems, and enterprises can deploy it--and are deploying it in significant numbers, according to an analyst report issued Tuesday.
"Oracle has finally gotten its act together on the 11i version of the application suite. Customers are telling us the product is working fine and they are pleased," according to a report written by Charles Phillips, an analyst with Morgan Stanley.
But many customers are still holding off on implementing Oracle E-Business Suite 11i. They're waiting to be sure that the bugs have been worked out. Also, the software requires complex installation, replacing the client/server and character terminal interfaces of the previous version, Release 10.7, with a browser client. 11i requires users to rip out their existing applications infrastructure and replace it with 11i, at a time when users are looking instead to consolidate and connect existing applications, rather than replace them. And the economic downturn is cutting budgets for upgrades.
IT managers do plan to convert to Oracle 11i when the time is right. The thin client will require less maintenance in the long run, even if it needs additional configuration at first. Version 11i offers greater functionality than previous versions, which means that IT managers will have to do less writing custom code to get it to fulfill business needs. The suite is relatively easy to customize. And IT managers soon won't have a choice; Oracle plans to end support for Release 10.7 of the Oracle application suite in June 2003, although the company has already extended that deadline several times under user pressure.
Upgrading will be a major topic at the conference of the independent Oracle Applications Users Group next week. "Everyone wants to know when to upgrade to 11i," said OAUG president Jeremy Young.
And whether to upgrade to the database will be a major topic at the Oracle OpenWorld conference, sponsored by Oracle and focusing on the database and Oracle 9i Application Server, beginning Dec. 2.
The suite automates core functionality for companies to run their businesses on, including enterprise resource planning, customer-relationship management, sales, and marketing applications. All told, there are about 100 components, from which customers can pick and choose. Competitors include SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel.
Borg-Warner Cooling Systems Corp., in Fletcher, N.C., plans this summer to begin evaluating upgrading to 11i. Borg-Warner will investigate whether upgrades will help it dispense with the extensive customization it had to do with Oracle 10.7 to match the company's financial and manufacturing procedures.
In seeking to do away with customization, Borg-Warner is following the Oracle party line. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says companies should forego shopping for best-of-breed applications, integrating them, and adding custom applications to match the company's business processes. Instead, companies should buy Oracle applications and standardize business processes the Oracle way.
Replacing existing enterprise applications, as 11i requires, is not what most enterprises are looking to do right now. They'd rather integrate what they have, to extend the value of the existing IT investment, said Illuminata analyst James Governor.
"Throughout the client-server revolution and through the Internet age, people were buying applications for business advantage. People were worried that if they didn't buy the same applications as their competitors, then their businesses wouldn't perform as well. They were seeking a magical, competitive advantage. But organizations have now realized that they spent a lot of money and haven't achieved that much advantage," he said.
"Oracle doesn't expect large companies to throw out all legacy applications and converge on a single data model all at once," the Morgan Stanley report says. "Instead companies can work to reduce the layers of incompatible applications over time and fill in parts of the suite at a digestible pace."
Indeed, 11i is relatively easy to customize, because it is the only major application suite written entirely in Java. Competitors require proprietary programming skills, the report says.
Lisa Arthur, vice president of marketing for Oracle E-Business Suite, said Oracle isn't telling enterprises to stop customizing entirely. Rather, enterprises should simply standardize on Oracle for functionality that's done the same in every enterprise, no matter what industry they're in, and customize applications where it can provide value-add. For instance, Oracle offers packages for planning and executing marketing campaigns, and selling and servicing products on the Web. "What we're telling customers is to customize the things that are core to the business, spend time and money on the things that really differentiate you," Arthur said.
That advice is only now becoming reasonable, as the software matures sufficiently to handle business requirements, said John Holdeman Borg-Warner plant IT manager. And still, some things will always need to be customized, especially when customers demand it. "If Ford tells us to do something, we ask what it is on the way up as we jump," Holdeman said. "For Larry to be saying we shouldn't customize when we've got a multi-billion dollar customer and we're a several hundred million dollar business is kind of silly."
For instance Borg-Warner built its own custom reports, and--on Ford's insistence--added functionality to electronically update EDI shipping schedules directly into Oracle Order Entry. Also, Borg-Warner had to write its own code to allow customers to change the quantity of orders up until just before they're picked for shipping.
Other reasons that enterprise are considering upgrading to 11i are to achieve low cost of ownership and ease-of-use of the browser-based interface, upgrading from fat clients and character terminals, said the OAUG's Young, who is a business process manager for DHL Worldwide Express, in Brussels, Belgium.
Some 920 enterprises have standardized on 11i, with 4,000 installations under way, double the figure six months ago, said Oracle's Arthur. Oracle introduced the fifth update to 11i in September.
"Confidence builds as more people adopt," Young said.
Until now, Borg-Warner, which provides automotive cooling systems to major car and truck manufacturers, didn't consider upgrading because early versions of 11i were too buggy. But now, with 11i in its fifth generation, the product appears to be stable. Another reason Borg-Warner postponed upgrading was that it just installed Release 10.7 in 1998.
But Borg-Warner and other 10.7 users are on a deadline. Oracle plans to cut off support for Release 10.7. The June 2003 cutoff will be workable for Borg-Warner-with a little luck. "A lot depends on where the economy goes. If we're in the same economic shape at the end of next year that we were this year, then, no, 2003 won't help much," Holdeman said.