Oracle ships updated World ERP software

Oracle's long-awaited upgrade to the World ERP suite is extensive

Oracle has unveiled an extensive upgrade of the once-moribund World ERP suite, fulfilling promises made to users after its acquisition of PeopleSoft.

The World software had been slotted for obsolescence by its original owner, JD Edwards, but Oracle changed that plan after gaining ownership with its 2005 purchase of PeopleSoft. Oracle at the time promised World users that it would make a significant commitment to the application line.

The new World A9.1 software, announced during Oracle’s recent Collaborate 2007 user conference in Las Vegas, will feature some 1,250 enhancements, including a new interface and service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities.

LaSalle Bristol has been testing the A9.1 suite since January, and its IT staff have been impressed by the test upgrade’s ease of use, says Michael Caldwell, vice president of information systems. The Indiana-based maker of home furnishing products currently runs World 7.3 to support its accounting and manufacturing processes. File conversion to A9.1 was simple, Caldwell says.

The company hopes to start work on the full implementation of the new version later this month, he says.

LaSalle is particularly interested in the release’s new warranty functions, which promise to help companies fulfill service and support commitments after products are sold.

Some IT staff at Matanuska Telephone Association, in Alaska, attended Collaborate to discuss the capabilities of the new software with early adopters, says Gary Riley, a business systems analyst at the telephone service provider.

Although interested in an upgrade, Matanuska doesn’t want to lose the “rock solid” capabilities of the World A7.3 suite it currently runs, Riley says. “We hope to enhance its abilities without losing its best attributes,” he says.

John Schiff, vice president and general manager of JD Edwards World at Oracle, called the new version “probably the most significant release of World in ten years.”

The A9.1 suite will run on IBM iSeries hardware, formerly known as the AS/400, and the DB2 database, the same as all previous versions of World, he says.

The new version includes a Java-based interface that can be integrated with desktop tools such as Microsoft Excel, making them more productive, says Schiff. Oracle will offer users either the product’s traditional green-screen interface or a new web-based point-and-click one that is customisable, he says.

The SOA technology will allow the application to be easily linked to non-World applications to facilitate interactions with customers and partners, Schiff says. A9.1 also has tools to ease the process of migrating from older World systems to the new version, he says.

Predrag Jakovljevic, an analyst at Technology Evaluation Centres, a consulting firm in Montreal, says the World upgrade indicates Oracle is doing a better-than-expected job of enhancing applications it has acquired.

However, Jakovljevic says he hopes Oracle will better explain how the World applications fit into the plan for the company’s next-generation Fusion application suite.

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