SAN FRANCISCO -- Companies reluctant to upgrade their J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft or Siebel business applications to Project Fusion won't have to under Oracle's new lifetime support program.
Oracle president Charles Phillips yesterday unveiled the lifetime support program and other new initiatives -- including plans to offer "hot-pluggable" architecture designed to mix and match customers existing infrastructures with Oracle middleware -- during his opening keynote address to about 35,000 attendees at this year's Oracle OpenWorld conference.
"This seems like it's pretty important to you guys," Phillips told the crowd. "We're going to give you both innovation and life support."
The first version of Project Fusion, Oracle's engineering effort to fuse the "best of" functionality from all Oracle applications into a single platform, is expected in 2007.
Phillips said the lifetime support program is geared toward an estimated 10% to 15% of former PeopleSoft, Siebel and J.D. Edwards customers who may not want to upgrade to Project Fusion for various reasons. Oracle previously told customers that support for those newly acquired applications would end in 2013.
Phillips also told attendees about a new IBM-Oracle partnership designed to make sure that Oracle's business applications run without modification on most of IBM's WebSphere middleware.
"We think we can find many areas of WebSphere that will work with our applications," he said.
Oracle and its newly formed Project Fusion council -- a group of "key customers" overseeing the initiative -- are currently weighing the question of whether Project Fusion will support non-Oracle databases, such as IBM's DB2. Phillps said a decision on the issue could be arrived as early as March.
"What we announced was just middleware support today for WebSphere," Phillips said in a press conference following the keynote. "On the database, we're still working on that and we haven't come to a conclusion."
Conference attendee Stefan Zassen, a technical product manager with midsized IT service provider Swisscom in Bern, Switzerland, said he thinks the IBM-Oracle partnership will offer companies the ability to access a more robust set of applications from the Internet.
"Most of the applications that you are using today are on your notebook or on your desktop," Zassen said. "WebSphere is a platform you use to get all of the people connected over the Internet. All you need is a terminal."