You panned Oracle pretty hard in your SAP vs. Oracle column earlier this year -- has anything changed? Are you more certain now than you were or do you see signs Oracle may be finding its way back?

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A lot has changed since that column ran, mostly with respect to Oracle's messaging around Fusion and the rest of its applications. The major shift has come from the fact that Oracle has now clarified its product strategy on two major fronts.

The first is that the Fusion Applications suite will not be a superset, all-things-to-all-users endeavor -- something I said Oracle could never do by 2008. Instead, Fusion Applications will be a Web services-enabled release, targeted to appeal to customers for whom Web services can have a specific strategic function. And, importantly, it will be a subset of the totality of Oracle's applications functionality.

Meanwhile Oracle will continue to upgrade and support its current big four products -- E-business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDE, and Siebel -- and provide those customers with an upgrade path specific to each individual product and its specific vertical industry support. This is a much more coherent strategy than what Oracle was saying at the time the column was written, and I think the value of that strategy to Oracle and its customers has been reflected in Oracle's strong earnings in the last few quarters.

This was first published in October 2006

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