Oracle adds service packages to help with upgrade

Looking to ease the burden of users upgrading to the latest flavour of its business applications, Oracle on Wednesday announced several new migration-related service packages.

Since its release more than a year ago, Oracle E-Business Suite 11i has drawn upgrade-related criticisms from the company's installed base of users concerned about 11i's business, a lack of adequate support and the need for numerous patches to keep the software from crashing.

Now, Oracle is delivering three new services designed to address the upgrade to 11i's enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial modules, help evaluate and eliminate customisation and show users how to make a business case for the migration.

Oracle, however, said these offerings aren't because the software is especially difficult to implement.

"What we have announced is just another form of support for our users, to help them migrate," a spokeswoman said.

Indeed, a number of users said recently that 11i's technical inadequacies are in the past. According to a report by investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co, "Oracle has corrected the [instability and bug] problems and is now shipping high-quality products, and customers are beginning to notice." The report, from analyst Charles Phillips, also stated that Oracle has 920 referenced customers on 11i with 4000 implementations now ongoing. Oracle estimates that 25 per cent of those customers are upgrades.

"The Oracle journey on Release 11i of the applications reminds us of Rocky I," said Phillips. "Bruised, battered and seemingly overmatched, somehow Oracle keeps answering the bell for the next round and moving forward. ... Release 11 bombed [initially], but is now in fighting shape and can be installed without hesitation."

News of the services may be welcomed by users on the fence about the product. The following are among the specifics:

The ERP and financials upgrade package will rely on a global team of on-site and online specialists who will use Web-based collaborative tools to get 11i ERP modules up and running in 60 days and financial modules up in 45.

The value assessment offering for 11i will help users make a business case and project a return on investment for the migration, based on a company's specific business objectives and measurements.

The simplification workshop and service will help users reduce or eliminate the amount of customisation required for the 11i suite, according to Oracle.

The services are available immediately.

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