OPENWORLD - Execs discuss Web 2.0 plans, Fusion's timeframe

OpenWorld panel addresses company's re-invented upgrade strategy

Oracle executives responsible for product development across the company joined together at Oracle OpenWorld user conference on Tuesday to shed some light on current marching orders concerning Oracle's application, database and middleware technology future.

During a panel presentation in front of members of the media, the Oracle roundtable touched upon a number of topics including: Fusion's general availability, an upcoming developer preview of Oracle 11g middleware and the software company's deepening interest in emerging Web 2.0 applications.

Addressing skepticism over whether Oracle can stick with its original 2008 release date for its Fusion enterprise application product set, Chuck Rozwat, executive vice-president of Oracle Development, staunchly confirmed the technology is "on track" for next year. He said the first Fusion modules will ship in 2008.

Fusion is being promoted by Oracle as a suite of software tools designed to unify and enhance Oracle enterprise applications and technology gobbled up by the company through mega-acquisitions of former competitors such as JD Edwards, Siebel and PeopleSoft. Oracle says it has worked to improve its oft-criticized upgrade path strategy from the past.

Upgrading? That's up to you

For example, Rozwat said Oracle customers need to understand that they, not Oracle, call the shots in terms of dictating when it's necessary to perform Oracle upgrades. "Our job isn't to tell [customers] what to use and when to move. We'll bring them forward to what we have in the future [but] if they stay on existing products that's great," he remarked.

Regarding the upgrade readiness of Fusion middleware 11g, the product has completed 4 beta cycles and at least 170 Oracle customers have tested the new technology, said Thomas Kurian, senior vice-president of Oracle Server Technologies. A developer preview of Fusion middleware will be available in December, he added. The product will be released at some point in 2008.

Web 2.0 and social networking applications are an area of profound interest for Oracle, according to executives on the roundtable. Oracle and its product development team are currently examining what Web 2.0 means for the relationship between enterprise applications and how business users collaborate and interact.

Steve Miranda, senior vice-president of Application development for Oracle, said that Oracle technology such as its Human Capital Management software could be a prime area to enable direct engagement and chat with users and their content. He said that giving users the ability to provide feedback and provide 'ratings' for content could be invaluable to streamline workflow processes.

For that to occur, he said that IT architectures capable of supporting social networking applications built by Oracle must be able to respond quickly to changes wherever necessary. Miranda confirmed that Oracle is actively talking to customers about Web 2.0 capabilities.

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