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Oracle Touts Cloud Option For On-Premises Apps

Sep 24, 2013 (07:09 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240161721


Oracle executives at this week's OpenWorld event insisted that the company is sticking with its applications-unlimited policy, but it appears most attention is turning to its more recent cloud coexistence strategy.

Apps unlimited is Oracle's eight-year-old strategy of promising continued support and development of on-premises enterprise applications including Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel. That policy was meant to put customers of acquired applications at ease that they would not be forced to migrate off their legacy applications. The company kept its promise and it's still standing by that policy, said Oracle applications executive Steve Miranda on Monday.

"We haven't slowed our investment into the E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards or other [on-premises] applications," Miranda said. "If anything we've accelerated that investment to keep that commitment to applications unlimited."

When Oracle's cloud-oriented Fusion Applications were released two years ago, the company introduced a coexistence strategy whereby customers could complement on-premises apps with targeted cloud apps. This strategy, too, still applies, said Miranda, because it's all about customer choice.

[ Want more on Oracle's OpenWorld announcements? Read Oracle Database Recovery Appliance Eases Backup Pain. ]

"All of the components of our cloud are built to integrate with your existing, on-premises investments," said Miranda. "If you so choose, and if there's an advantage for you, you can migrate to the appropriate cloud solution at the time you choose."

This is business-as-usual messaging, but the news and fanfare here is decidedly cloud-focused, with cloud-dominated CX @ OpenWorld (customer experience) and HCM @ OpenWorld (human capital management) exhibitions getting dedicated exhibit halls.

Oracle pre-announced the release of E-Business Suite 12.2 last week, and that's the only significant on-premises app news as of Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, cloud-based HCM and Talent Management updates got a splashy announcement by Oracle co-president Mark Hurd.

What's more, a panoply of customer interviews during Miranda's annual application keynote all focused on cloud coexistence scenarios:

-- Southwest Airlines: Senior director of customer loyalty Ryan Green discussed the addition of cloud-based Oracle Social Marketing capabilities as a complement to its Siebel-managed frequently flier loyalty program.

"Airlines have to communicate with and engage with customers in a wide variety of circumstances, and we try to do that with a family, collegial, fun feel using audio, video and photos," said Green.

"We're using Oracle Social Marketing to produce and execute that content." Southwest Airlines also monitors customer interactions on social media using Oracle tools so it can "stitch that experience together" with customer interactions with the Siebel-managed Southwest loyalty program."

-- Treasury Wine Estates: The maker of Penfolds and Rosemount wines, among many other brands, has also added Oracle Social Marketing -- capabilities from the company's Eloqua acquisition. There don't seem to be important technical ties between the social tools and the company's JD Edwards ERP deployments, used to manage financials and wine-making operations, but the company is keeping its technology investments in the Oracle family.

"We want to enhance the consumer experience and educate the consumer on our 80 brands," said Maggie Huffman, VP of strategy, architecture and innovation at Treasury. "Each brand has a unique identity that will be reflected in the social outreach."

-- Standard Life: The global pension, savings and investment firm based in Scotland has added Fusion Talent Management to its E-Business Suite HCM and payroll apps. A seven-month deployment of Fusion, launched last summer, reached 6,500 U.K. employees. The next phase will see the cloud apps rolled out globally.

"The rollout should be completed by Q1 next year, and that's important because a larger percentage of our revenues will flow from across the globe over the next few years," said Sandy Begbie, group operations officer at Standard Life. "It will allow us to identify talent, provide a very professional, consistent approach and manage our workforce on a global basis."

The Oracle Applications User Group has officially supported both the applications unlimited and coexistence strategies, but according to Margaret Wright, president of OAUG, the coexistence options are getting most of the attention these days.

"We're hearing quite a bit about leveraging more Fusion Applications," said Wright in an interview with InformationWeek. "I'm hearing a lot about use of the Fusion accounting hub with E-Business Suite to improve reporting, and the second most frequent combination would be HCM in the cloud."

Where skepticism about security and reliability were commonplace in the early days of cloud apps, the focus seems to have shifted to their many advantages.

"It is very expensive to run on-premises applications, between servers, server software, annual maintenance license costs and the people resources to support all of that," said Wright. "Many of our members are looking to eliminate some of those costs and they see cloud as a simpler solution that they don't have to worry about."

Learn more about SaaS by attending the Interop conference track on Cloud Computing and Virtualization in New York from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.