Oracle extends support date for business applications

Responding to requests from its business applications user group, Oracle Corp. said that it's extending the lifetime of its legacy suite of enterprise resource planning applications.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software vendor said Monday it would comply with user demands and continue to support its legacy 10.7 Oracle business application suite until June 2003, six month longer than it had originally planned. Additionally, the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) is in talks with Oracle for possible collaboration at a spring conference.

"This is a positive action by Oracle in supporting the ongoing needs of its customer base," said Mark Linton, a member of the board of directors of the OAUG. He said Oracle had used the OAUG as a focal point to communicate with and respond to its customers.

Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer at Oracle, said he expects that this latest extension should be adequate for users who have been putting off their migration to Oracle's next generation Web-based 11i suite. "It's a goodwill gesture between ourselves and our users," said Jarvis. There are about 800 new and former 10.7 users who have migrated to 11i.

Continuing the support date for a product "is always a good idea, though it means Oracle must continue to face a support burden that it would rather not pay for," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Daly City, Calif.-based Enterprise Application Consulting. "But in this case, the customer is always right, and the customer wants to stay put and not be forced into an upgrade too soon. With the current economic uncertainty, staying put is a good strategy for a lot of customers."

In addition, Jarvis said Oracle had been working with the OAUG during the last few months on the move and on a joint conference in April.

The conference issue has created an ongoing rift between the company and the OAUG for more than a year. Oracle has withdrawn support for OAUG's semi-annual conferences in favor of its own Applications World event; OAUG has so far refused offers to fold its user group into the Oracle event, claiming that the conference would be too marketing-driven and compromise the user focus.

However, Oracle is taking an upbeat tone about the latest talks. "We're delighted," said Jarvis. "We always wanted to do a joint conference. It would benefit Oracle's users and be a benefit to the OAUG."

However, an OAUG spokesman said the user group's only definite commitment would be the selection of papers for presentation at the AppsWorld conference. The OAUG also intends to continue with its independent event, slated for the end of next month. The spokesman said that while OAUG may co-sponsor a number of things with Oracle, nothing has been finalized yet.

OAUG recently completed a survey of its membership to see if it wanted to give up the independent event, but is not at this time disclosing the results.

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