It was good to see Charles Phillips, co-President and John Wookey, SVP Application Development comfortably and passionately (at least on video) kick off the Oracle Applications Strategy Tour in New York this week. I have known Charles from his days as a financial analyst. He knows the enterprise application market cold and has a huge rolodex in the CIO, vendor executive and media/analyst community. John is a dyed-in-the-wool applications executive (yes, you can argue chart of accounts issues with him) with years of industry experience within Oracle and before that at Ross Software. It is good to see Oracle – finally - with solid applications leadership. They are going to need lots of it over the next few years.
Oracle will be trying to release a new set of “Fusion” products by 2008 – blending the best of Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards functionality. It will presumably also provide a variety of migration tools. It has said it will also support PeopleSoft and JDE functionality through 2013. The combinations of application modules being supported, migrated, developed will be in the thousands. Each module like a General Ledger has millions of lines of code, and of course each of the code bases is supported on a variety of databases and operating systems platforms. All this, while Oracle continues to acquire and integrate companies like Retek and SAP targets every PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customer with programs like "Safe Passage"
The last company to try and rationalize 2 different major application code bases and migrate them to a new one was Dun & Bradstreet Software (which tried to move MSA and McCormack and Dodge customers to a new client/server Smartstream platform in the early 90s), It failed and many of its customers are now on Oracle and SAP. CA also had a pot-pourri of acquired applications but it mostly kept them separate and gradually watched the customer bases shrink.
So the risks are high. But Charles is a man I know who does not need much sleep. And he has Oracle’s engineering army - much bigger than anything D&B Software ever had. He will need lots of disciplined program managers to keep all the development/migrations sane. And lots of defensive measures to keep SAP at safe distance from his customer base.