By Siobhan Kennedy Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp was pushed by one of his customers during a Q&A session Tuesday to give an exact date as to when the next version of its applications software, 11i, would be available. The customer, who told Ellison the delay in launching the suite was causing […]
By Siobhan Kennedy
Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp was pushed by one of his customers during a Q&A session Tuesday to give an exact date as to when the next version of its applications software, 11i, would be available. The customer, who told Ellison the delay in launching the suite was causing him to lose credibility in the eyes of his users, asked Ellison for a date when he could expect to get his hands of the applications.
As part of his answer, Ellison gave the most truthful explanation of the delay that’s come out of Oracle so far. Although he wouldn’t stick his neck out so far as to promise an exact date, the CEO said he expects 11i to be available in February. Until now, company officials had stuck to the first quarter party line. In addition, he said that the company’s order management and CRM applications, billed for the second quarter, would be available some time in April. While company officials had insisted all week the delay was attributable to the difficulties of integrating additional functionality within the suite, Ellison was prepared to go a little further than that.
He told the audience the delay was down to a number of things. Firstly, Oracle had decided to put a lot more capabilities into the software, he said, which meant it couldn’t meet the original deadline of September, but we’re constantly making trade-offs like that, he said. He also admitted that technical glitches served to delay the launch, as had the impending transition to the year 2000. As we grew close to the year 2000 we thought that no-one would want to implement the software so close to the Y2K boundary, he said, so we decided to sneak in a few more features in the interim.
The fact that 11i is delayed at all isn’t the end of the world for most users, but having the CEO publicly commit to a month – as opposed a quarter – when the software will be available is certainly significant, especially for those users waiting to upgrade.
David Dobrin, an analyst for Benchmarking Partners in agreed the delay could be beneficial to users. He says it’s the first time Oracle has ever beta tested its software. Traditionally, they haven’t done beta tests on their products because they say the mechanics of beta testing are difficult and there’s a lot of work and risk for customers. Moreover, Dobrin says the fact that Oracle is carrying out its beta tests as part of its ASP strategy is even better for users. So as part of the beta test Oracle doesn’t send you a CD, instead it’s letting users test the applications over the internet, he said, even though it’s late it will probably be better tested than previous versions. Dobrin said it was no surprise 11i is running late, When Larry said it would be available in September at the last user conference people thought he was crazy, he said. I think it was a question of him announcing it to the world as a way of pushing his own employees into action.
Users’ reactions were mixed. Robert Moon, VP and CIO of Micros Systems Inc, Beltsville, Maryland, said his company would roll out the new software as soon as it becomes available. The company, one of the biggest manufacturers of point of sales systems in the US, is currently rolling out version 11.03 of Oracle’s applications. But we’ll start loading the 11i CD the minute it gets here, Moon said, adding that the benefits of 11i, an internet based interface and faster accessibility to applications via any standard browser, rather than Oracle’s own, were well worth waiting for.
Others were more skeptical. The delays don’t affect us at all, said Dana Talbot, Oracle applications administrator for SCP Global Communications in Boise, Idaho. Talbot said that her company had only just decided to upgrade to version 11.0. We wouldn’t think of moving to 11i until it’s been available for nine months or more, she said, there will be a lot of bugs in it. Our philosophy is to let someone else be the guinea, apply the 300 or so patches it’s going to need and then we’ll
think of using it.