​OBUG Apps Connected: the main learning points highlighted
Jul 04, 2017 | April was marked by the OBUG (Oracle Benelux User Group) user conference, entitled 'Apps Connected'. Or, as the OBUG puts it: "The ultimate opportunity for knowledge exchange (inform), networks (connect) and finding the right information (support) and above all being informed about the latest Oracle developments". Last year the OBUG was hosted in the Netherlands, this year Antwerp in Belgium was chosen as its location.

Networking and getting up to speed
This year, unfortunately, fewer users attended than in previous years, probably because most attendees come from the Netherlands, and Antwerp may not have been ideal to some of them. Oracle partners and sellers were less troubled by the travel time, since they were represented in large numbers. Every year, the conference resembles more and more like a reunion of consultants and sellers who meet and exchange the latest news. It came as old news that Oracle, yet again, didn't manage to close new deals in this fiscal year.

Key notes report
The day focused on a number of key notes from Oracle and parallel sessions with partners and/or customers. The key notes were presented by Cliff Godwin, Senior Vice President of Applications Development Oracle E-Business Suite and Marc Weintraub, Senior Director of Product Strategy PeopleSoft. In this blog I will analyse the sessions about the Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft in more detail.

Oracle E-Business Suite
It became clear from Cliff Godwin's session that the development of the Oracle E-Business Suite focuses on three areas:
  • Functional innovations
  • Modern UX (User Experience)
  • Operational efficiency (Support)

Cliff Godwin's presentation showed many new functionalities, from which can be concluded that Oracle continues to invest significantly in the software of the E-Business Suite, which subsequently was confirmed by Cliff Godwin.

Modern User Experience
Another important aspect of the session was the so-called modern user experience. Taking today's day and age into consideration, the focus merely is on mobile apps for the Oracle E-Business Suite. A variety of mobile applications have since been made available for HR (leave, hours, declarations, for both employee and manager), Sales Order, Field Service, Maintenance, Mobile Inventory, and many more. These mobile solution don't require licenses, and are available for releases 12.1.3 and 12.2.x. As already indicated, this is a product under continuous development, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering that many large organisations, using the software, will never opt for a cloud solution.
And, what about the discussed support time lines?
12.1 premier support finishes in December 2021;
12.2 premier support finishes in September 2023. 

Version 12.2.6 has been General Available (GA) since the autumn of 2016, whereas version 12.2.7 can be expected in the autumn of this year. The new point release 12.3 can be expected in 2019. If this time frame can't be achieved, version 12.3 will be released in 2020, preceded by an intermediate release (12.2.8). Version 12.3 will include another 10 years of premier support, therefore, we could say that the Oracle E-Business Suite will not be EOL (end of life) in the foreseeable future. Further developments and support will be guaranteed until 2030.

Marc Weintraub onstage
And then the presentation of Marc Weintraub. Weintraub stated that Oracle has about 5.000 PeopleSoft customers worldwide of which only a fraction is running Oracle in the cloud. This may be because Oracle continues to develop new functionalities for PeopleSoft too, so there is no need to move to a cloud application. In addition, Oracle also realises that more and more users are working on the upgrade to version 9.2. Besides talking about the benefits of and differences in version 9.2 and PeopleTools 8.56, Marc Weintraub also provided a deeper insight into the possibilities of Fluid, Elastic Search, PUM, Peoplesoft Classic Plus, pivod grids and other applications and development tools. These topics were also discussed at The Alliance and explained in my previous blog, which can be read here:
Remarkable statement
Marc Weintraub made a remarkable and bold statement, which refuted what was said by Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle. In an interview at the beginning of April this year, Mark Hurd stated that clients were wronging themselves when continuing to make use of an on-premise installation.This because the cloud variant would provide more functionality and have a better look & feel. Marc Weintraub anticipated that his statement could cost him his job. He wondered, nevertheless, if the audience thought Oracle was really developing both an on-premise and cloud variant…. It turned out yet again that perception management is an approach familiar to Oracle, as to boost sales figures. The last 15 minutes of the presentation were about the Oracle proposition in the field of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. But, I must say, felt like a compulsory part of his presentation, also for Marc Weintraubs, and something that clearly fascinated him less.
Besides that…
The other speakers were mostly customers who, together or not with their consulting partner, clarified a specific solution or discussed a specific theme. Through all that cloud fury presented by Oracle, a lot of customers asked whether MCX wasn't preoccupied that all customers were to transition to the Oracle Cloud and if we would have an alternative. It feels good to realise that many customers are committed to us and worry about us. But, my return question was fairly simple and consistent: "Are you transitioning to the Oracle Cloud this year, or next year?" And the answer was invariably: "No, for us that is not an option". When I continued asking "Why not?", the answers were: "Last year we ran an analysis to determine to what extent our current functionality was covered by the cloud version, and it showed that even the most basic functionality wasn't included", and "No, we want to keep control over our releases and functionality", or "What would be the added value? We have a private cloud at MCX which is perfectly suitable".
Therefore my conclusion after such a day is that both MCX and our customers don't have to worry about the future of MCX.
This conclusion was also underlined by the presentation of Holger Mueller, Vice President & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. He concluded that Oracle invests only a fraction of its turnover into new data centres. To pose a genuine threat to the Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, Oracle would have to invest at least 10 times the amount it is investing today into new data centres, or Oracle, once again, will miss the boat.
All in all a nice day, in which the OBUG organisers had invested a lot of work, and introduced a number of interesting customer cases and speakers. Let's see if the expectations and forecasts about 2017, will be realised in 2018.

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