It is October, and for Oracle users and industry watchers that means Oracle OpenWorld Conference 2009. In recent years Oracle has become a power in the IT industry with its acquisition spree and most recently Sun Microsystems. One of the major questions on everyone’s mind is what will Larry Ellison announce at the Moscone Center this year.
Every year Oracle OpenWorld is the stage for at least one major Oracle announcement. Three years ago, it was Oracle’s move on Linux support and then the next year, the move on to Virtualization Software. Last year it was the HP/Oracle Appliance offering — a massive parallel processing computer for data warehousing. What will it be this year, could it be any surprise on Java or Salesforce.com (Marc Benioff is doing a keynote at Oracle Open World).
What Oracle really needs is a positive announcement about Oracle Fusion Applications (OFA), its much promised and delayed next generation ERP/CRM system built on the service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform and delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS), originally announced in 2006 (as “already half finished”) and now promised for 2010.
Oracle’s promise at this initial announcement was to “be the first company on the planet to build a full suite of applications for large and small companies based on standards.” Fusion Apps will combine the best functionality from its ERP/CRM systems (Oracle Applications, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel) built on a new, advanced technology base, with a new user interface, new process model, and new data model. Oracle’s unified application platform going forward, a new generation of service-oriented, Web 2.0-based applications is to have business intelligence integrated as a pervasive element and be designed to integrate easily into SOA architectures. It will make a clear shift from application silos to supporting end-to-end business processes.
Oracle critics have raised questions about when exactly Oracle will introduce Fusion Apps., and whether the new platform will be enough when it does arrive. The strongest reply to these questions would be the announcement of a market launch date or at least a positive progress report.
However, even when OFA does arrive, it will present serious challenges for users. One of the largest of these will be data migration from present generation applications to a new and as yet not publicly defined database structure. Data migrations are fraught with issues, often exceed timelines and budgets, and can create challenges to application migration acceptance. Understanding exactly what needs to be migrated and determining the rules for mapping to the target environment will require significant time and effort. Best practice is to ensure that the scope of the initiative is limited to data sources that will be required or that add value to the target application or data structures. Just because data sources related to the target are available does not mean there is business value in migrating them. Often, not all historical data needs to be migrated to the target. By archiving or disposing of older, non-value-added data, the level of effort and timeframes can be minimized.
For most organizations, the lack of concern about, and clear understanding of, the magnitude of data quality issues will create problems. In many cases, substantial amounts of rework will be required to address data quality issues encountered during the development of the migration processes. Again, the more data involved in the migration, the more likely, more numerous, and more severe these problems will be.
ILM software such as Solix EDMS can play a vital role in preparing for the massive data migration that moving to Fusion Apps will require, and the time to think about that is now, before the migration begins. The purpose of ILM software is to identify data no longer in active use and archive it out of the production database automatically, in an organized manner that preserves access to that data when it is needed. The obverse of that coin is that it also identifies the subset of data that is active and that therefore needs to be migrated. By reducing the size of the production databases that will be migrated, it can reduce the time, effort, and number of data quality issues that will be involved, while preserving access to the archived data through its own or other industry-standard data viewers.
As with everything involving very large business databases containing vital business information, however, ILM cannot be installed, implemented and run in a day. As the deadline approaches for the introduction of Fusion Apps, this means that Oracle’s several hundred thousand enterprise customers should seriously consider ILM now. This will give them time to select a product, install and test it, and then start a gradual archiving process for their major databases that will leave only the active data in the production database when the time comes to migrate to Fusion Apps. That will give them a major head start on migration, and the good news is that in the meantime archiving with a strong ILM tool such as Solix EDMS will improve the performance of their present architecture while delaying and decreasing Capex expenditures on expensive Tier 0 and Tier 1 storage systems.