In June of 2003 Oracle will stop supporting versions of Oracle applications prior to 11i, so many users will be upgrading over the next year.
One such company is Westgate Transport Port Taranaki, which is considering either upgrading or opting for a fresh install.
The port has used Oracle Financials since 1991 and is currently running version 10.7 on a low-end Sequent machine running Unix. Moving from an old system, which has had many upgrades to the new web-oriented 11i, presents some challenges, says Westgate Transport IT manager Mark Brennan.
Apart from having to upgrade the hardware — most likely to another low-end Unix box — there are a number of substantial differences between 10.7 and 11i.
Westgate Transport has done some preliminary work and Brennan says there have been some problems bringing older data through to the new version. Changes to fields and tables and differences and additions in module functionality means having to deal with many anomalies.
“This raises the question of do we upgrade or do we do a fresh install? The cost would be pretty relative because the amount of energy that goes into a new install would be the same as an upgrade. However, you do tend to lose some information.”
Brennan says the main reason for moving to the new version is for continued support. Westgate Transport has an ongoing maintenance contract so the main capital outlay is for consultants to help with the upgrade and with integration of the port’s custom-built specific applications with 11i. The company has been working with Oracle application consultants Theta.
It is also having to rewrite its custom-built applications and has contracted Waikato-based developers Xenacom.
“When we first went with Oracle in 1990 we developed our customised applications with the functionality of Oracle applications,” says Brennan. “We wanted them very tightly integrated because of security and reporting. They are character-based whereas 11i is graphical, so we have to redevelop our applications.”
Westgate Transport will also make sure the custom applications are less tightly integrated this time around. Part of the reason for doing it that way was to have a single sign-on for both the financials and the company-specific applications but this can now be achieved through a portal.
Brennan says 11i also has a better reporting functionality. With previous versions reports can only go out to the printer whereas with 11i users can put them out to the web or to an Excel spreadsheet and drill down more, he says.
Whether the company decides to upgrade or do a new install, the project is planned to go ahead in the next financial year starting in July through to January.
Power generation and retail company Genesis Power is also installing 11i.