Oracle users seek new extension on application support

Looking to extend the life of their installed systems, a group of more than 50 companies that use Oracle's business applications are trying to convince it to drop plans to stop supporting a still-widely-used release of the software at the end of next year.

          Looking to extend the life of their installed systems, a group of more than 50 companies that use Oracle's business applications are trying to convince it to drop plans to stop supporting a still-widely-used release of the software at the end of next year.

          Saying they're in no hurry to go through the pain and cost of upgrading to Oracle's E-Business Suite 11i software, the users this month signed a petition asking that technical support of the older Release 10.7 be continued for two more years beyond the scheduled ending date. The users making the request include companies such as Nike in Beaverton, Oregon; Wells Fargo Financial in Des Moines, Iowa; and Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America in Buffalo, New York.

          Oracle has already changed its plans several times after it first said that it wanted to stop supporting the 10.7 applications at the end of last year. The current date was just put in place in June, when the software vendor announced that support for the 10.7 release would be extended for another six months past the previous mid-2002 deadline.

          But the companies that signed the petition say they want support to go on through the end of 2004 in order to give them enough time to get their money's worth on their investments in Release 10.7. The petition notes that many users were forced to migrate to 10.7 because it was Y2k-compliant, unlike earlier versions of Oracle's applications.

          Among these concerned users is John Holdeman, plant IT manager at Borg-Warner Cooling Systems in Marshall, Michigan. "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)," he says. "We kind of expect a five-year life cycle for major releases like this."

          Holdeman says the year-old 11i software has new functionality that makes it attractive to Borg-Warner, which runs Oracle's financial and manufacturing modules. But, he adds, the company "doesn't want to spend another $US2 million doing an implementation" so soon after installing the 10.7 applications.

          The petition makes a similar point. "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 document says, adding that the new release "is just not pressing enough to justify a change of this magnitude within the next 12 months."

          An Oracle spokeswoman says the software vendor just received the petition on last week and hasn't come to a decision on the request yet. She adds, though, that Oracle officials "want to do as much as we can to help people."

          The independent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) last month said it was "pleased" by the latest six-month extension of the 10.7 support plans. A spokesman for the Atlanta-based user group today said the petition wasn't an OAUG initiative, but he notes that some members of the group still aren't satisfied by what he termed the "minimal extension."

          Oracle "could very well come up with another six-month extension, and people will breathe with a sigh of relief," Holdeman says. "But doing six-month bites is not very helpful." If Oracle rejects the petition, he adds, Borg-Warner may seek 10.7 support from another services provider or decide to bite the bullet and upgrade to 11i.

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