When Oracle started acquiring companies in the ERP space, they unfolded (the outline of) the Fusion strategy. With three aspects to it as I understood it: the Fusion Middleware stack, the integration of the acquired companies into the Oracle fold and the development of the next generation of Enterprise applications, duped Fusion Applications.
After some intial excitement and quite high expectations, the buzz subsided and Oracle became somewhat quiet. They did embed PeopleSoft, Siebel, Retek, JDEdwards and many others. They also went on developing and releasing Fusion Middleware. But the Fusion Applications were never heard about again. Or so it seemed. People even started to wonder whether they were for real. With the Applications Unlimited program – that guarantuess virtual everlasting support on all of the Oracle Apps products – and the AIA (Application Integration Architecture) that makes all Oracle Apps products work together, the necessity for Fusion Applications seemed somewhat less urgent. And indeed, no serious progress (or anything at all really) was visible at Oracle Open World 2008, even though in 2007 Larry had announced the first modules shipping in the Spring of 2008.
Here at the ODTUG 2009 conference, I have learned that Fusion Applications are for real. And I have seen them as well. And I was impressed. After several years of hearing, interpreting and to some extent telling the Fusion stories, now it all seems to come together. Next week (July 1st) we will have the big launch of Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g – with among other things the SOA Suite 11g, WebCenter 11g (Spaces, Framework, Services, Composer), WebLogic Server 10.3.1 and the next level of ADF 11g – and the Fusion Applications products are coming together rapidly as well. Oracle also has started to expose the Fusion Apps, recently at the Collaborate conference and this week also at ODTUG.
I am not exactly sure when the first modules will start shipping, but it will not be very far away I suspect – and OOW will definitely have a lot of Fusion Apps news and demonstrations.
Steve Miranda, SVP for Application Development at Oracle, presented and primarily demonstrated. And I sat there with my camera, taking pictures of some of the slides but really waiting for the demos. When he started demoing – the battery went dead. So not many screenshots from me I am afraid – but you will probably soon see them anyway.
First some strategy, vision and history out of the way.The key elements are still the same: Applications Unlimited, no need to move away from your current ERP systems. Using AIA you can make current modules in one Oracle product (or third party vendor’s product) work work with other modules. And for certain areas (and in the long run maybe for all) you can start adopting modules from the Fusion Applications product – that also integrate through AIA based on Fusion Middleware with existing modules or legacy systems or custom applications.
The technology stack for Fusion Applications is a combination of the Oracle RDMS and most of Fusion Middleware 11g. And not some customized version of those products but the exact same product line Oracle sells to its customers. Products such as ADF 11g, WebCenter 11g, SOA Suite 11g, WebLogic 11g (10.3.1 really) that underpin Fusion Applications are available to us as well. So we could build similar applications – if we had the time, budget and the staff. Some metrics – though they seem to be fluctuating somewhat : 3000 developers are working with Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g for creating Fusion Applications. And they have been doing so for the past year or so. Which means that the FMW 11g stack to be launched next week has been tried and tested and pounded upon and yelled at by perhaps the world’s largest development team. So the software we can start using starting July 2009 probably already achieved a serious level of stability and functional completeness.
These are impressive numbers. close to 5000 tables, over 10,000 View Objects and close to 11,000 ADF Task Flows.
Of course what these numbers tell us is also that where in the past the JDeveloper product management team may have had us believe BC4J and JDeveloper and UIX were being used by EBS development teams to a larger extent than they actually were, those days have gone. The most serious application development effort undertaken ever by Oracle is founded first and foremost on ADF. It is not something to the side, used for just a few self service modules. ADF is the core of Fusion Applications and therefore an extremely important and strategic platform for Oracle.
Making this gigantic development effort successful – productive, manageable, delivering rich functionality – is a challenge and has forced the developers of the technology stack (JDeveloper/ADF, SOA Suite, WebCenter, WebLogic Server) to deliver very good work – which will benefit us in those same areas: productivity, manageability of the development work and functional richness.
Here is a picture of the functional areas that Fusion Applications will focus on for the near future:
These together span a very substantial percentage of the scope for most enterprises. More specialized modules will roll out later on. For now the main focus seems to be in the areas of Financial Management (GL, Accounting), HRM and CRM.
Some of the key common characteristics across all functional areas – based on shared service in the technology stack include:
– built on native SOA, for example for driving workflows and interacting with services
– business process management and application configuration accordingly
– on top of a unified data model (one schema, 5000 table- however, depending on the modules you choose to run, you get a subset)
– embedded business intelligence/analytics for operational support (integrated with OLTP view of the world)
– Enterprise 2.0 experience (integrated collaboration and communication functionality)
– Customization and Personalization infrastructure – Fusion Apps can be fine tuned to the organization, department or indivual’s needs – at run time, from within the application itself.
And here is one of the few screenshots I managed to take:
Some of the things that you may notice:
it is the ADF 11g Rich Client look and feel (which should not be a surprise)
some WebCenter facilities may shimmer through
ADF and WebCenter for UI
UI does not go to DB directly
goes through Business Processes – behind most of the flows in fusion apps
No global menu with references to (business) entities, taking the user to a screen where CRUD operations can be performed on all attributes of the entity.
Instead the navigation is driven initially from ‘the current situation in the context of the user’ – exposed through pending tasks (to do list), exceptional situations, open requests from colleagues or customers, discounts about to expire,…. Each listed item provides a navigation link to go directly dealing with the task associated with the situation.
In addition, a lot of navigation is by association: when looking at a business object, navigation options are available to (tasks with regard to or views on) associated business objects. When for example the user is looking at a customer, context sensitive, association based navigation is available to tasks like Upgrade Customer and Offer Discount to Customer as well as views on Recent Interactions with Customer and Pending Customer Orders.
The starting point for an end user is main portal-like page (with dashboard characteristics) like iGoogle or myYahoo with gadgets like news stories, sport scores, the local weather. In this page, the pending tasks and alerts that need attending to are exposed as well as potentially charts that present aggregations of relevant business events or statuses and Enterprise 2.0 elements such as recent wiki changes, blog entries, forum contributions or ‘corporate tweets’, the email inbox and the calendar/schedule overview. Fusion Applications also uses RSS in other areas, for example to expose meaningful changes in relevant (from the user’s perspective) business objects.
Underneath the pending tasks and to do lists is the BPEL engine that is running (human) workflows. It makes use of the Activity Guide concept in BPEL (that I have to look into) that helps organize longer running processes with manual (human) tasks in them.
The dashboard is role (and user) based: only information and navigation options that are available to the current user are available. This mechanism is based on Oracle IDM (Identity Management)
Interesting presentation Fusion Development on slideshare.