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Oracle OpenWorld: Fusion and some CRM decisions to be made

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21st Sep 2010
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Fusion CRM is almost here. Time to upgrade? Maybe, maybe not - the choice will be yours. Decisions, decisions...
Oracle's CRM customers have some decisions to make over the next few years. The arrival of Oracle's next generation Fusion suite of applications will mean that the firm has three CRM offerings in its portfolio. Alongside Siebel and CRM On Demand will be Fusion CRM applications, available in on premise form or ready to run in public or private Clouds.
So which to choose? Well, first off it's not going to a choice that needs to be made in the near future. “Where we are today is we're going to be holding on to Fusion a little more tightly that some of our other products,” says Anthony Lye, Oracle's senior vice president, CRM Development. “We have an early adopter programme and we are handholding those customers. We will work with customers based on their readiness to move to Fusion. Customers are very intelligent and we find that they are qualifying themselves in or out of wanting to move to Fusion very well. “
But longer term Lye sees three clear options for existing CRM customers. “People will do one or more of three things with Fusion,” he argues. “Firstly they may do absolutely nothing with it at all. They will continue to deploy Siebel and CRM On Demand and we will continue to release those and continue to build them out. We're currently heads down on release 19 of On Demand. Customers can stay on those for as long as they want.
“Then there will be some customers who will do something. The wonderful thing about Fusion is that because it's services-oriented, one Fusion module doesn't know whether it's talking to another or whether it's talking to Siebel or CRM On Demand. So there will be a lot of co-existence going on. Finally the third category will be those people who replace our stuff and our competitors' stuff and move to Fusion.”
Holding hands
Given that it's taken over half a decade – and a hell of a lot of time and money - to get the Fusion suite to the stage where it's ready to go on general release, it might have been expected that Oracle would be eager to push customers onto the new applications as quickly as possible. But in fact the firm is being cautious about encouraging customers onto the upgrade path just yet, re-emphasising its commitment to maintain investment in the existing products.
“We really don't see the rate of innovation for CRM On Demand or Siebel slowing down,” insists Lye. “We're on release 18 this week of CRM On Demand. We will continue to release On Demand to a very aggressive schedule while we've had four major releases of Siebel since we joined Oracle. We've seen a very significant percentage of the customer base upgrade to version 8 or 8.1. We have been very focused on cost of ownership, not just on features and functionality that we put into the applications. We've been benchmarking our customers and their upgrades with a focus on TCO. What used to cost a dollar to do in Siebel 7 costs you 47 cents in Siebel 8.”
The ability to deploy Fusion apps on premise or via public or private Clouds is being touted hard by Oracle as it seemingly seeks to take back the Cloud agenda from the pureplays such as Salesforce.com which have become the tail to wag the dog in recent years. While the likes of Salesforce.com's CEO Marc Benioff warns of Oracle's 'fake Cloud' status, Lye argues that the firm has a proven track record in the Cloud.
“For all the marketing that's been done by others that Oracle is not in the Cloud, Oracle has a Cloud strategy and I think it's a very clear and concise one,” he says. “The Cloud is really not something new to us. We have been delivering CRM On Demand for the past 7 years. We do understand how to run applications in the Cloud and we think we do Software as a Service pretty well. We have been able to define the higher end of enterprise grade SaaS.”
In fact, he adds, the Oracle approach to Cloud ties in with the focus on TCO. “We've chosen to build out and not up,” he adds. “We run everything on the Oracle stack as we do with Fusion. Salesforce.com really has three stacks – VMforce, Sites and Force.com. When you've got three stacks, then that's starting to get expensive to integrate and to maintain. I know that's the case, because right now I have to two stacks – CRM On Demand and Siebel. With Fusion, I will have one stack, one code base. That's better.”
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