Q&A with Cliff Godwin, Oracle Senior VP of Applications Development
CH: Thanks so much for joining us, Cliff! We really appreciate it. It's been an exciting week here at OpenWorld. Any highlights?
CG: The big announcement is that we are changing our whole release strategy where we are going to what we call a continuous innovation model. It means that traditionally in EBS whenever you change the technology, we would give you a new release of the applications at the same time built on that technology, and you would do an upgrade where you adopt the technology and the application at the same time.
CH: We've been through a lot of those!
CG: Exactly! E-Business Suite customers know a lot about those upgrades, and they can be expensive. What we are doing going forward is something different. We are saying we are going to separate the movement of the technology under the applications from the applications release level itself. So, going forward you'd be able to go from one middleware version to the next underneath the exact version of applications you're already on. So, if you were on our 12.2.8 version of applications and you wanted to go from Fusion Middleware 11 to Fusion Middleware 12, you could do that move without actually doing an install upgrade.
So, with that strategy, what it means is we really don't have to do a 12.3 release to deliver the later middleware, which is what we've been assuming we had to do. Instead, what we're saying is that the 12.2 release will go on indefinitely, being updated with new application capabilities, and the technology can advance underneath that in whatever way makes sense for the customer.
"With this strategy, what it means is we really don't have to do a 12.3 release to deliver the later middleware, which is what we've been assuming we had to do. Instead, what we're saying is that the 12.2 release will go on indefinitely, being updated with new application capabilities, and the technology can advance underneath that in whatever way makes sense for the customer."
CH: So basically, decoupling the two?
CG: That's right.
CH: So, what does that mean specifically for those customers who are on EBS 12.1 and have been waiting to hear what to do next?
CG: The issue for the customer on 12.1 is that they didn't want to do two of these upgrades, one to 12.2 and then turn around and do another to 12.3, which we told them was coming. And so a lot of those customers are waiting, and not advancing, waiting for 12.3 to come in. With the announcement this week, customers really don't need to wait anymore. There's really no new release that isn't here that you're going to wait for. So, you can go to the release 12.2 that we already have. A lot of customers have been eager to do that and now really have no reason to hold back.
"The issue for the customer on 12. 1 is that they didn't want to do two of these upgrades, one to 12.2 and then turn around and do another to 12.3, which we told them was coming. And so a lot of those customers are waiting, and not advancing, waiting for 12.3 to come in. With the announcement this week, customers really don't need to wait anymore."
I'm seeing in a lot of conversations with customers, they're saying: "Well that answered my questions, and now we are going to plan on how to go forward to the 12.2 release." I think this is going to get a lot of customers in motion, put them in a position to take advantage of all the development work we've been doing all these years a lot faster than they would have under the previous way we were organizing it.
CH: Yes, it does seem like we've been coming to conferences and hearing about new things in 12.2, but some of those folks on 12.1 weren't ready to go. I think the continuous innovation announcement and all of the new features you announced in 12.2.8 combined with this roadmap that extends at least out to 2030 is pretty exciting for the customer. I've had user group members, though, asking: "Now that I see my path, how do I get access to the right people in Oracle to get new EBS licenses, maybe license new products, expand my footprint – whatever I want to do? Where is that person? Where do I find them?"
CG: That's a great question, and with all the focus we have on cloud, it can be hard to find people sometimes who are focused on your E-Business Suite deployment and interested in how you want to progress that. And so there actually is now a specialized sales group within the sales force in North America and other regions who is really focused on the customers on EBS, Peoplesoft, Siebel, JD Edwards, who need more modules, more seats. They need to do more with the products; they need to be informed about what are the latest capabilities and see that demonstrated. We have a specialized sales force for that now. So, on the OAUG website, we now have at the top of the Oracle Resources list a link to that group, the Oracle Applications Unlimited team.
CH: OAUG has always benefited from our relationship with you and your team. You guys have a great presence at COLLABORATE. You've been there a lot of years yourself! I think I heard since maybe 1991?
CG: Yes, I don't think I've missed one since '91.
CH: You've got a lot of experience there! So if you were talking to someone who is either a recurring or a new attendee, what do you see as the difference or the value proposition for them in going to COLLABORATE? And what is your team hoping to do with the customer at COLLABORATE?
CG: I think there are a couple of important ideas in there. One: for people who haven't gone to COLLABORATE before and are wondering how does COLLABORATE relate to OpenWorld, COLLABORATE is a much more user-driven event. It's a much more collegial, peer support type of event. You're going to find fellow travelers who implemented the same product, faced the same trade-offs, and you're learning from them and what they did. And then we support that very intensively from development, and so the whole education side of it that comes from being able to share the product direction, being able to meet with customers individually, and talk about whether a particular thing is going to be done in the product in the future…Those are the kind of things we can engage with you on in development, and then a lot of advice comes from peers as well. And so COLLABORATE is a lot more education based; it's a lot more supportive in terms of your decision making with more of an advisory and less of the marketing orientation we have at OpenWorld where we are really trying to convey a lot of product messages. COLLABORATE is much more of a user, ground-up kind of event focused on what users really want and need from each other with Oracle more in a supporting role.
COLLABORATE is a great event, and if you haven't' been to one you should certainly come to it. Though we really do have quite a big presence in the development organization there, it's very easy to have meetings with us in development. We can just sit down for an hour and talk about all the trade-offs you face in making your roadmap or your order management expert can sit down with the product manager in that area and talk about all the different things you're trying to do with the product, what they've seen in other implementations and so forth. And so we are very accessible, and COLLABORATE is a great forum to get a lot of one-on-one advice.
CH: Yes, I learned that years ago, that the best place to get actual access was at COLLABORATE. I think it's really important for people to consider that it's great for a range of people from the organization.
CG:Yes, we can have the same meetings at COLLABORATE we have at OpenWorld. Your team has the same chance to sit down with the people you would meet here but even in a more relaxed environment. Frankly, OpenWorld is very fast moving, busy, noisy, bustling, environment, and you can have a little more relaxed interactions at COLLABORATE and just take your time and get the answers you need.
CH: Yes, and besides that, it's in San Antonio this year in April – it's going to be great weather! Well, I really appreciate your time today, Cliff. I did want to give one more plug for the COLLABORATE conference. We've got registration open now, and you can go online and register if you want to be an attendee. We are also in the midst of our call for papers. We love to tell user stories, so if you have a story to share, we hope you will go online and submit your abstract. Those are due by November 2.
The elimination of having to possibly do 2 major upgrades and having a more simplified and straightforward upgrade path with regard to the EBS product roadmap is huge!
Very happy with Oracle's announcement and new path forward for EBS customers