COMMENT: Analyst's Corner
Moving the Business ForwardBy David Baum
Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle On Demand pave the way for application upgrades.
Oracle Magazine spoke with Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, about the latest trends in application software.
Oracle Magazine: What new technologies are driving customers to upgrade their enterprise applications?
Wettemann: From a technology perspective, there are two primary drivers. First is the rise of standard integration technology. We're starting to see companies adopt service-oriented architecture [SOA] to make integration less costly, less risky, and more repeatable.
Second, from an application perspective, Web 2.0 technologies are causing users to demand simplicity. If people can find anything they want on the internet, why can't they find the information they need within the enterprise? That's the issue.
Oracle Magazine: What do these changes mean for application software vendors?
Wettemann: Vendors are making applications more modular, so they can make specific functions available to users without forcing them to install an entire software package. There is also a greater focus on ease-of-use, such as minimizing training requirements and making interfaces more intuitive.
Oracle Magazine: How do on-demand solutions change our perspective on software upgrades?
Wettemann: On-demand customers are typically on "rolling upgrade" paths, which deliver incremental advancements rather than massive upgrades marked by entirely new versions. Part of the appeal of this type of deployment is the ability to gain new capabilities without disrupting the business. The software vendor or hosting provider minimizes the cost and effort associated with supporting and upgrading applications, and determines what customers need. For example, with Oracle On Demand, Oracle manages software upgrades based on its innate familiarity with the product road map and based on the collective knowledge it gains from supporting many different implementations. Oracle supports many different customer environments and can leverage that knowledge across the entire customer base.
Oracle Magazine: How does Oracle address integration as part of this deployment and upgrade cycle?
Wettemann: Oracle has recognized that smooth integration is key to achieving visibility across the supply chain. We see this more and more as the Oracle Fusion Middleware strategy evolves. Part of this strategy is to help Oracle customers drive more value from their existing applications.
In some cases, Oracle provides access to a broader set of users. In other cases, it provides access to people outside the organization by streamlining collaboration and communication. As part of the Oracle Application Integration Architecture, Oracle offers not just integration tools but guidance and best practices for integrating applications.
Wettemann: Smart CIOs want to know which upgrade paths deliver the most value. Many of them will adopt [Oracle] Fusion at some point, but they are studying the product road map to find the least risky and disruptive path to follow.
Part of this involves deciding whether they want to manage these applications internally or have some of them managed externally in an Oracle On Demand environment. The upside for them is that they have a lot of flexibility. They can decide what they want to keep in-house and what they want to outsource.
Oracle Magazine: What finally motivates CIOs to upgrade, extend, or outsource their applications?
Wettemann: One big motivator is the desire to simplify IT. Another one is the desire to acquire standardized integration technology like SOA. But the biggest motivator is what users are saying: they want the enterprise application environment to be intuitive, not disruptive or complicated.
The biggest challenge for today's CIOs is to make their applications easy to access and as intuitive as possible. The best CIOs have stopped talking about IT and have started talking about what they can do to develop the business.
David Baum (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance business writer based in Santa Barbara, California.
Nucleus Research provides research and advisory services, including financial modeling tools, deployment assessments, and case studies