Oracle Fusion – like it or not – is one unavoidable subject that at least comes up in discussions over a coffee, if you are in some way related to ERPs. In this post, being the first in the series, let us take a peek into the product.
Fusion – Oracle couldn’t have chosen for a better name – for it is a product of products, fused to work together and provide a fairly complete enterprise solution. Many visualize Fusion Application (FA) as a combo of other Oracle ERPs like PeopleSoft, e-Biz, Siebel, etc. The truth is that it is an independently designed product with an aim to create the next generation enterprise application. Putting it simple, FA is a big J2EE application that runs over Weblogic Server – big here is real BIG! It is an app group that includes HCM, CRM, Financial & Accounting Hub, Project Portfolio Management and SCM – all co-located in one single install – BIG – isn’t it? In FA language, each app is called a Pillar. All these pillars are intertwined out-of-the box and talk to each other seamlessly. Customers however have a choice to implement one or more pillars based on their need. The major advantage of a pillar structure over monolithic structure is that you can patch or upgrade one pillar without disturbing the others.
FA runs over Fusion Middleware which is again a gamut of middle layer products like Weblogic, SOA, BPM, Identity Management, Business Intelligence; the list goes on… – I said BIG! All these individual products integrate and work together to provide an underlying foundation for all application pillars that sits over it. Weblogic is the container of Fusion – for both middleware & application – and forms the most critical component of Fusion Middleware.
Security in FA is provided by Oracle Identity management suite (IDM). IDM provides an enterprise security model that allows you to define a person’s access in multiple pillars/applications based on his/her organizational duties. For e.g. you can define an access for a Payroll Administrator’s roles in HCM and Finance applications as different job roles and provision it to the person. So when a person is hired/transferred/promoted to that seat, access to all the application can be provided in one shot by just assigning the Payroll Administrator job role to the person. This allows quicker provisioning of roles to users in a changing business environment and increased productivity while reducing the effort in maintenance.
What stands out above all is the superior usability that conceals the complex architecture under the hood and provides a complete user experience. The Web 2.0 user interface combined with the collaborative tools provided by WebCenter offers features like to “Network at Work” and improves productivity. I suggest the readers to go through http://bit.ly/10dktnx for more on usability that leads to enhanced productivity.
Transactional Business Intelligence is one of the other highlights in Fusion. The application has built-in analytics that provides reports out of transactions. For instance, in HCM, there is something called “Workforce prediction” where the system predicts the likelihood of an employee leaving the organization. It also provides an insight on impact of such an event and corrective steps based on “What-if” analysis. The intelligence is based on several indicators/events that get recorded as transactions within the system. There are also many other “What-If” analytics report in Fusion that the users can execute and extract intelligence out of transaction rather than just information.
All said and done, should a customer pay BIG to play Fusion? Well, read on…
Talking of implementation, Oracle provides various options. A customer can choose to implement the product in-house – what is called On-Premise implementation. Here customer owns both license and the infrastructure to host the application. This option is best suited for very large customers with well established data centers with huge servers, looking for ROI in the current hardware, wants to customize the product and is very particular about maintaining data in-house. The second option is to host the application on Oracle’s private cloud. Oracle will host the application in its infrastructure while the customer owns the license. This option is meant is for big & medium sized customers who want to make use of the highly scalable & available infrastructure that Oracle offers, those customers who do not want to invest and host on their own infrastructure and need customization. The last option is to go for SaaS or pay per use model where the product is owned and hosted by Oracle and the customer pays based on the usage of the software – like number of employees maintained, the paycheck generated, etc. This is meant for any organization small, medium or large who prefers to go with the trend of deploying applications on cloud and use it as a service (SaaS). There is no need to invest either on license or the infrastructure.
Should I decommission my existing Application Unlimited product like PeopleSoft that I’m using already? Not at all! Application Unlimited is here to stay. One interesting feature of Fusion is its capability to integrate with existing App Unlimited products like PS or e-Biz. You can have your core HR in PeopleSoft, Financials in e-Biz, have Compensation planning and Accounting Hub run out of Fusion. This is what Fusion calls Co-Existence. The integration framework is provided as part of the application. Customers can make use of this framework to map data elements and connect the applications together. This is definitely not as easy as plug & play but it is not as complex as writing integrations from scratch or not as expensive as scraping the existing product and moving into Fusion. Co-existence ensures your current investment is effectively leveraged.
One obvious question in everyone’s mind would be how long it will take to implement Fusion. Typically, implementation of a pillar varies from 3 to 6 months on an average and this may extend based on the complexity, number of pillars and modules implemented. Well, implementation effort/cost – Definitely not BIG!
With all these in the box, Oracle claims Fusion Application as a ‘Game changer’ and a ‘Next generation ERP’. We will have to hear more Notes of Fusion to appreciate this. We will do this in the posts to come!
“Fusion” fully yours,