"Did I know anything about this?" Oracle wanted to know. No, I replied, I was planning to form my opinions after the event, despite SAPs eagerness that I do otherwise.
Sometimes being an analyst can be very entertaining.
So now that the event is over, its safe to say that SAPs opinion of what I was ready to say was a little excessive. I do think that Oracle has made progress in its applications lord knows if it hadnt it would be quite the laughingstock. But do I agree with Oracle co-president Charles Phillips statement that Oracle is half-way to Fusion the tough half, as Phillips put it? Now it was Oracles turn to be excessive.
Half-way in one year thats how long its been since the PeopleSoft acquisition would mean that Oracle is one year away from being finished, especially if the tough half is already done. And clearly, as the timeline that apps vice president John Wookey showed later in the briefing highlighted, theres a lot that wont be happening by the end of this year.
Just to clarify the half-way issue: Oracle is still sticking to 2008 as the delivery date for the Fusion suite. So were more like a quarter-way there, if the company is able to meet its own deadlines. And thats the zillion-dollar question.
Im still very pessimistic about these dates, mostly because I still see a lot of unfinished business that Im not sure can be resolved in time. One of the main issues is CRM: with the Siebel acquisition still not closed, its hard to imagine that Fusion CRM, and the all-important customer record and vertical functionality that are supposed to be coming from Siebel, will also be delivered in this 2008 timeframe.
Then theres all those yet-to-be-acquired vertical applications that are supposed to propel Fusion into serious competition with SAPs vertical functionality. Im not sure how you can deliver by 2008 something you havent even tried to buy, much less integrate. Call me negative, but its hard to imagine that Oracle is anywhere near half-way to its stated goal of a broadly verticalized product suite.
What Oracle has done is moved forward in branding its Fusion Middleware stack, and there seems to be serious progress in defining what the composite applications development and deployment experience will be. This should come as no surprise: Oracles strength in technology is decades old, and well-earned.
But, according to this applications bigot, the real prize comes from rolling out a suite of industry-leading applications, based on a model-driven, process-based, SOA architecture. And if Oracle is really already half-way done with the applications that it hopes will challenge SAP, then SAP is going to continue to hold the upper hand. The half-way that Oracle was able to show at the Fusion event wasnt strong enough to give it the lead that Oracle is vying for in applications.
Or is taking the lead not the goal? Making inferences based on what isnt said can be dangerous, but Charles Phillips closing remarks seemed telling. Phillips laid out his vision of what Oracle will look like in 2010, and missing from the list was any notion of enterprise applications market leadership, much less the market dominance that we would expect to be the only acceptable position for Oracle and Larry Ellison. Phillips made it clear that the company expected to be a market leader in key vertical industries, but no mention was made of dominating enterprise applications. Is this a new twist on the Oracle saga? Or just a miscommunication on Phillips' part?
Well have to wait to find out I think thats analyst relations on the line right now. With my luck it wont matter whether its Oracles or SAPs AR team calling, after reading this column theyll both be mad at me. As I said, sometimes being an analyst can be very entertaining.