COLLABORATE 18: The Cloud Parts with Cosmic Commitment to the Oracle E-Business Suite

At our recent visit to COLLABORATE 18, it was evident that Oracle has eased the pressure on its E-Business Suite (EBS) install base to adopt an Oracle Cloud migration path and solutions, which was the emphasis at last year’s event. Both Oracle EBS and Oracle Cloud solutions enjoyed airtime and prominence at this year’s COLLABORATE, the annual Oracle Applications Users Group Conference. Here, we’ll explore developments with those offerings, along with other hot topics from the 2018 event.

Keep Your Head Out of the Cloud Unless it’s a Business Fit

The message from Oracle at COLLABORATE 18 was clear: Oracle EBS is here to stay. Oracle will support and enhance the platform at least until 2030—with subtle hints of beyond already surfacing. The EBS customers at the event seemed content with this new direction from Oracle. Customers actually ran out of questions 10 minutes before the end of the usual “Meet the Experts” Q&A session with Cliff Godwin, senior vice president of E-Business Suite Development for Oracle. This is in stark contrast with Godwin’s session last year, where he was inundated with questions about the company’s aggressive push to adopt or migrate to the Oracle Cloud, which we described in last year’s blog.

Oracle’s new message that “you can move to the Cloud if it is a good fit for your organization” is certainly more palatable to the existing EBS install base. In fact, Oracle was blunt this year in indicating the Cloud is not for everyone and that you should conduct due diligence before deciding to move from EBS to the Cloud.

Oracle cited two primary areas for careful review when making the decision to move to the Cloud:

  • Evaluate current customizations – Currently, no access is provided to the Cloud database schema. It is offered as a service only, and Oracle implies that there is no migration path for potential business critical customization to the Cloud. Your organization would therefore need to make sure it can function without those customizations or evaluate new Cloud functionality to replace the customizations.
  • Evaluate your third-party integrations – You should conduct a careful study of your current solution integration model and consider whether a Cloud solution is available. Integration of third-party software solutions is not supported.

Two of our own customers who visited our booth at COLLABORATE—one in the forest products industry and another in manufacturing—had a mandate to consider migration to Oracle Cloud. Both reached the same conclusion independently: Oracle Cloud is not mature enough to support all business-critical requirements (compared to EBS), integration and customization issues are foreseen, and there are business process and solution gaps. The takeaway: There is currently no motivation for them to move from EBS.

Oracle E-Business Suite Stays Grounded in Support

The current release of Oracle EBS is Version 12.2.7, with 12.2.8 to be available later this year. Considering the gaps in the Oracle Cloud offering, continued support for these current (and lower) versions strengthens Oracle’s commitment to EBS. Oracle will continue Prime Support of Version 12.1 through 2021, Version 12.2 through most of 2023, and Version 12.x through 2030 (for a minimum of 10 years) and perhaps beyond.

As Oracle is moving away from disruptive major release upgrades to pursue an incremental “drop-in strategy” for upgrades similar to its Cloud upgrade model, Version 12.3—slated for 2020—will be the last release following the old strategy. Oracle recommended that customers currently on release 12.1 should hold off upgrades until 12.3 is released and envisioned that those customers on 12.2.7 won’t be early adopters of 12.3, as it contributes no new major functionality.

As for the Oracle Database, the next major releases will be Version 18 later in 2018 and Version 19 in 2019 (as of 2018, Oracle adopted a calendar year numbering convention for their database releases), which will be after the next major EBS release (12.x). Strategically, Oracle is aligning EBS and Cloud on the same database with Version 19 to introduce an appealing juncture for migrating from EBS Version 12.2.8 to Oracle Cloud.

Additional Announcements and Hot Topics

On other fronts, Oracle responded to customers by creating a dedicated sales team—the Oracle Digital Team—to service the needs of its existing EBS install base, who had been bombarded by Oracle Cloud Sales. Another announcement reaffirmed Oracle’s ongoing move from old Forms Technology to an Oracle Framework Architecture (OFA) for HTML pages, though no date was given for conversion of all forms. The company also announced introduction of a tool to address the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for EBS.

As for enthusiastic session attendance by COLLABORATE attendees, automation topics were a big draw. One presentation on robotics and artificial intelligence for automating back-office functions drew well over a thousand attendees. Another presentation on use of technology to automate and reduce the duration of the financial close process was delivered to a full room.

Overall, it seemed that with the pressure off for moving to the Cloud, attendees were excited to explore options that complement their existing EBS installations, like third-party tools that can expedite financial closes by helping automate the reporting process. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief that Oracle EBS will be well-supported for the long term.

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