Oracle users: more time on old software

Looking to delay a big systems upgrade, a group of more than 50 companies that use Oracle Corp.'s business applications is calling on the vendor to drop its plans to stop supporting a still widely installed software release at the end of next year.

The users last month signed a petition asking that technical support of Oracle's Release 10.7 applications be continued for another two years so they can put off the cost of upgrading to Oracle's new E-Business Suite 11i software. That would also give Release 10.7 users more breathing room than they have gotten from several extensions that Oracle already made.

The companies seeking the two-year extension include Nike Inc. in Beaverton, Ore.; Wells Fargo Financial Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa; Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. in Buffalo, N.Y.; and Borg-Warner Cooling Systems Corp. in Marshall, Mich.

"We're pretty much blown away by the prospect of another implementation or update less than three years after our go-live [date for Release 10.7]," said John Holdeman, plant IT manager at Borg-Warner. "We kind of expect a five-year life cycle for major releases like this," he added.

Holdeman said the year-old 11i software has new functionality that makes it attractive to Borg-Warner. But, he added, the company "doesn't want to spend another US$2 million doing an implementation" so soon after installing Release 10.7.

Holdeman said he would also like to be able to stop worrying constantly about planning an upgrade. Oracle "could very well come up with another six-month extension, and people will breathe with a sigh of relief," he said. "But doing six-month bites is not very helpful."

Oracle first said it wanted to stop supporting the 10.7 applications at the end of last year, but it has announced a series of extensions since late 1999. The current date was set in June, when Oracle said support would continue for another six months past the previous mid-2002 deadline.

But the users who are asking to have support extended through the end of 2004 said they want enough time to get their money's worth on Release 10.7. Their petition noted that many users were forced to migrate to 10.7 to make their systems Y2k-compliant.

"Even for companies desiring to migrate to 11i, many are not strategically or financially positioned to immediately abandon current technologies in favor of it," the petition said.

An Oracle spokeswoman said the vendor is still considering the request. She said the company wants "to do as much as we can to help people."

A source at the independent Oracle Applications Users Group in Atlanta said the group discussed the support issue with Oracle executives last week. The source added that Ron Wohl, who heads applications development at Oracle, offered to speak with some of the petitioners in an effort to set a mutually agreeable desupport date for 10.7.

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