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Oracle's Ellison Previews Fusion Amid Star Power

SAN FRANCISCO – Larry Ellison enjoys the high profile perks that being a successful CEO of a massive company has to offer. That was evident today as he was joined on stage by a music and movie legend here at the Oracle OpenWorld conference.

The funny part is the rock star and movie star are both in their in '60s, the same as Ellison, and none of them show signs of slowing down.

First up, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey came out to mention the free concert Oracle is promoting this evening, featuring him, Aerosmith, The Wailers and Three Dog Night. Then, halfway through his speech, Ellison was joined by the rather tardy Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose arrival was delayed by a capsized truck trailer on the Bay Bridge.

"The Governator," as he is jokingly called, talked up California's technology industry, talked about its role in his bodybuilding and acting careers, and closed out by asking the attendees not to go home, but stay in California and spend some money.

Finally came the news. Ellison gave the first fully operational preview of Fusion, Oracle's (NASDAQ: ORCL) long-gestating middleware project written entirely in Java. With 6,000 objects alone, it was a massive effort, and it's done. "We are code complete. We are now in test with customers," he told the audience.

There are seven Fusion applications in version one: financial management, human capital management, sales and marketing management, supply chain management, project portfolio, procurement management, and governance, risk and compliance. All will be available in 2010, Ellison said.

And all are designed to work with existing Oracle apps. "We understand that our customers have an enormous investments in Siebel, eBusiness Suite, J.D. Edwards, and Peoplesoft. We will continue to engineer those apps for the next decade and beyond. We're absolutely committed to doing that," he said, drawing applause.

"We can afford to not only maintain the software you're running today but can also build the software you want to move to tomorrow, whether it's tomorrow, next year, five years or 10 years from now, so you have a choice to stay with what you have or move to the next generation of apps," he continued.

Fusion apps are brand new, built on Java and Oracle middleware. Each is architected around a service-oriented architecture and are designed to be easily connected to an organization's existing suite of Oracle apps. "We don't think all customers will replace what they have today with Fusion. Some may want to augment what they have with Fusion," Ellison said.

Oracle will also offer a dashboard to monitor fusion apps that will monitor performance and let customers set their own levels of expectation. If an app is not handling transactions at a certain pace, for example, an alert is issued and the customer can diagnose the problem.

New service program monitors cloud performance

Fusion is also meant to be cloud-ready. Between yesterday's appearance by Salesforce chief Marc Benioff and today's presentation, Ellison seems to be warming to SaaS. "We built Fusion apps to be SaaS-ready or if you prefer, cloud-ready, to be available as a service. We thought if we commit to service levels we better have some way of monitoring those service levels," he said.

With that, he went into a second announcement, Oracle's new service and support system. He noted that many cloud service provides don't have good tools for monitoring if the service levels you signed up for are being met.

Oracle's solution is to bring together its cloud-service system, called My Oracle Support, with the on-premises system, Oracle Enterprise Manager. "We wanted to unify those two systems. We think by doing that, we can provide much better support than an on-premises or cloud support system could do on their own."

It's an opt-in system that reads a customer's systems, gathers up their entire configuration, and sends it to Oracle's global configuration database. This will allow Oracle to do more aggressive patching and provide proactive problem detection.

So if a customer reports a problem and a bug is uncovered, Oracle can then notify customers that have a similar configuration and the potential to experience this bug. If there are dependencies, like another patch needs to be applied, the service tool handles that.

My Oracle Support will show recommended fixes based on your configuration, then Oracle Enterprise Manager will download the appropriate patch(s). It will also validate that your fix doesn't conflict or if it needs other supporting patches.

Ellison did not give a timeline when this will be available.