Saturday, March 17, 2007

What is a Fusion Application?

For most of you watching the Oracle beast snapping up companies, the word Fusion should sound very familiar. Each of you might be having a fair idea by now as to what it means. For some of you it could just mean merging together all the best features of Oracle eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, Siebel CRM, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World and Hyperion. Guess what, you are not wrong but there is much more to it. This is how John wookey defines the vision of Fusion applications in most of his famous all-hands meetings.

"In addition to merging many of the best features, functionality and architectures from our various application product lines and using the latest Oracle technologies, our goal for Fusion is to incorporate three strategic drivers into the applications we build and deliver. These strategic drivers will help differentiate us against SAP and bring new value to our existing customers. The three strategic drivers are 1) Adaptive Business Processes 2) Business Intelligence and 3) Superior Ownership Experience."

I am going to delve deeper into each of these aspects.

1 Adaptive business processes:

Let me put your brain to test before I explain what this aspect actually means? What is the only thing that is constant in this world? Bingo! you guessed it right. It is CHANGE. It is very important for today's customer to tackle change in her business by being able to proactively change the business processes in her software. Fusion applications deliver on this front like no other. Technologies like BPEL, SOA let a customer adapt to change ever so easily.


It stands for Business Process Execution Language and is an emerging XML based standard that uses webservices to orchestrate business processes. Because it uses Webservices, processes that span over multiple platforms/systems can be easily implemented. Customers will be able to easily incorporate Oracle delivered tasks and external non-Oracle tasks into their business process flows. Business Activity Monitoring or BAM sensors are added to these BPEL processes that enable customers measure their service levels. For eg., a customer can easily figure out the time taken to fulfill an order thus enabling easy identification of bottle necks, if any, in her system. She can then immediately act and declaratively change the process to remove the bottle necks.


Well, this seems to be the buzz world in the IT world these days. SOA stands for Service Oriented Architecture and it enables loosely coupled, coarse-grained systems interact in a seamless manner. In simple terms, it lets a C++ application running on a windows platform interact with a Java application running on a Linux platform in a standard manner. The real power lies in the ability to discover a remote system at runtime and invoke it dynamically. If you take a look at today's Customer portfolio, she has software systems from multiple vendors. For eg., a customer could be running Oracle fininacials, Peoplesoft HR, Hyperion analytics and SAP PLM all within the same org. It is very important for her to make these systems
talk in a seamless manner. This is where SOA fits in. SOA helps businesses respond more quickly and cost-effectively to changing market conditions they may face by promoting reuse and interconnection of existing business logic.

2 Business Intelligence:

Business Intelligence is all about providing users the information they need. They can then act upon this data to do a better job for their customers. Given that Oracle 'OWNS' the data by virtue of its database share, its only logical that it built business intelligence right into the core of the Fusion application architecture. The Fusion business intelligence encompasses four key areas

i) Role based dashboards:

In Fusion, dashboards will provide information and navigation at a glance and will be designed to be role specific. For example a dashboard for a purchasing agent would contain key purchasing metrics and information a purchasing agent typically needs daily to do his/her job. Depending on functional requirements, dashboards may leverage Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) technologies to display information real-time.

ii) Embedded Analytics:

These are implemented as portlets that appear on the right hand side of a web page and are linked to the main page via what we at Oracle call 'Context-Wiring'.Embedded analytics provide key supplemental information/analytics to help a user perform tasks more effectively. Embedded analytics provide the highest value when the task involves the user having to make a decision—like Should I book my flight on Jet airways or Indian airlines? In this example, understanding the historical on-time arrival rates is an example of a key analytic that can help the user make a decision about which flight to choose.

iii) Ad-hoc analysis:

Tools like OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition) formerly known as Siebel Business Analytics can be used to perfom ad-hoc analysis.

iv) Analytical applications:

These are a seperate suite of applications that provide analytic type of information to a select group of people within an organization. Examples include Profitability Manager (my product!!!!), Enterprise planning and budgeting etc.

3 Superior Ownership Experience:
This initiative is all about reducing cost, risk and improving overall customer experience. The main goal is to make Fusion applications the least expensive to own and operate. Some of the key initiatives that fall under this umbrella are

i) Application Lifecycle Management:

It encompasses areas such as reducing the downtime required during patching('0' downtime could be a reality. Just watch out), providing change management for updates and customizations.

ii) Supportability:
Main goals here are:

. Help customers proactively identify issues and resolve them before they become problems.
· Make it easier and faster for customers to solve their own issues.
· Reduce the time it takes Oracle Support to resolve issues that customers report.


Here's my favorite part. In Fusion, Oracle is planning to provide an UI second to none. Au revoir to those dull looking green webpages. All forms, JTT pages, OAF pages will be coverted to ADF pages. ADF faces based on Java Server Faces will provide a very compelling UI to the users.

There are a host of other initiatives under this section like better security, easier implementations, better quality and high performace and scalability. New tools and initiatives are being developed that will arm Oracle developers to achieve these.

Thus project Fusion is much more than merging various product lines. It will bring innovation to customers and help Oracle differentiate its offerings in the market place.

Note: All the views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Oracle Corporation.

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