You know, in all the debates surrounding the pros and cons of offshoring to India, security has been a fairly constant theme, but I have to admit that I was thinking more in terms of information security or data protection, rather than riots sparked by the death of a Bollywood film star! Betcha no-one saw that one coming at the contract signing stage!
But that was the scenario last week in Bangalore with the death of a 77 year old star who I confess I've never heard of but who was clearly something of a national treasure in India. Rioters demanding he be given a postumous honour took to the streets, causing various outsourcing providers to close down their operations and leaving UK customers frustrated at being unable to get a hold of the call centres.
I thought that would have to be most surprising story of the week... then along came Oracle with an out-of-the-blue decision to continue supporting Siebel, PeopleSoft etc etc ad infinitum. Now, Oracle had already been pretty generous in its support offer for its acquired product sets - 2013 is some way off after all - but it looks like SAP and rival vendors have managed to seed enough fear, uncertainty and doubt to spark a rethink.
So now, if you're a Siebel customer, there's no need to upgrade to the next generation Fusion applications by 2013 after all. This is an interesting development in its own right, especially if like me you'd cynically assumed that the correct way to spell Fusion was S-I-E-B-E-L anyway. Does it imply that Oracle itself is not entirely confident that it can deliver Fusion by 2008 and is giving itself a bit more wiggle room? Or is it a counter-blow against the FUD factor being spread around by rivals, the extra insurance that Jesper Andersen talked about this week?
Whichever version you choose to believe, it seems to me that it confuses the already confused Fusion strategy even more. One of the fundamental tenets underlying Fusion was that Oracle couldn't go on supporting so many code bases as it had in its bought-up portfolio of offerings. Fusion was the future, the way ahead, the single code base.
Now, it might still be that, but now it's an additional product in the portfolio rather than the evolutionary post-2013 replacement it once was. Of course Oracle will argue that Fusion will be so darn spankingly fantastic that everyone will want to move to it anyway, but it will also be a new product and one that has emerged from one of the most challenging and complex development projects ever attempted by a software firm.
If you're a Siebel customer and you're happy on your stable release, are you likely to want to make the leap onto the uncertainty of first generation Fusion any time soon? OK, Oracle won't enhance your Siebel application, but hey, it does what you need it to do and if Oracle is going to carry on supporting you, then you've got plenty of time to think about it. So let's not upgrade onto Fusion just yet, let's wait till release 2 or 3 when it's stablilised... after all, the only real loser will be Oracle's projected upgrade revenue stream....
So, full marks to Oracle for hitting back at the rival FUD-dery and congratulations to Siebel/PeopleSoft/JDE users- you just won a lot of time, but answers to the longer term questions this raises over Fusion and Oracle's strategy still elude me.
Unless of course, forever doesn't always mean forever...
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