Know Your ERP Series : Oracle E-Business Suite

ebs

Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) is a global, multiorganization, scalable solution with strong functionality for service and product-centric industries. On the product-centric side, these include high tech, industrial manufacturing, automotive, life sciences, consumer packaged goods, chemical, communications, utilities, engineering and construction, aerospace and defense, and natural resources.

According to Gartner estimates (see “Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2013”), Oracle’s ERP business was flat overall. While Oracle does not disclose financial metrics for individual product lines, we believe the key growth products included Oracle Cloud Applications, while core ERP products saw a modest decline relative to the year prior.

The latest major update at the time of this writing is Oracle E-Business Suite version 12.2.4, which was released in August 2014. Release 12.2 includes functional enhancements and a technical innovation for “online patching,” which allows patching while users are in the system, thus reducing downtime for mission-critical business processes this leverages edition-based redefinition features in Oracle Database 11g R2. The online patching and the Oracle Application Testing Suite are designed to streamline patching and related maintenance activities. Many Oracle customers have upgraded or are in the process of upgrading from release 11.x to 12.x, with adoption of release 12.2 still in the early stages.

Through its 2011 acquisition of Endeca, Oracle has delivered 21 new modules called Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca. These enable information-driven navigation to easily and quickly identify issues and how to resolve them. The new EBS Extensions cover areas such as financials, order management, inventory and warehouse management, and service management. However, the current license pricing for Endeca makes it a very expensive option.

Oracle E-Business Suite remains one of SAP’s strongest competitors in large enterprises and upper-midmarket companies. Oracle has made some efforts with its partners to reduce implementation timeline and costs. However, the intrinsic depth of functionality and complexity of EBS, and the need for very skilled IT resources to operate and maintain it, can restrict its usability in some core midmarket companies. A number of customers have mitigated the need for skilled IT staff by using managed application and hosting services offed by Oracle and partners. Due to the scalability and breadth of industries covered by Oracle E-Business Suite, a wide range of additional modules are available to provide deeper functionality needed to support more complex organizations. However, prospects for these additional modules should be prepared to negotiate over the pricing. Oracle generally considers these to be premium products with appropriate price points, which can make the business case challenging for midmarket companies.

Oracle continues to provide out-of-the-box mobile applications for EBS, and has enhanced the mobile development tool called Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF) to enable EBS clients to better extend existing applications to mobile devices where they do not already exist. Oracle also continues to invest in overall usability and mobility with core enhancements to its Web development tool called Oracle Application Framework (OAF) to enable tablet optimization and device integration. This design approach continues to drive improvements in selected areas of the user experience and productivity of EBS.

Although not yet functionally as deep as EBS, especially for product-centric companies, and although not yet primarily targeted at midmarket companies, the emergence of Oracle Cloud Applications provides a more clearly visible, next-generation offering (see “Evaluating How Oracle Fusion Applications May Fit an Application Strategy”).

Oracle E-Business Suite, together with Oracle’s complementary applications, such as Oracle Hyperion and selected Oracle Cloud Applications delivers a branded suite (see “ERP, SCM and CRM: Suites Define the Packaged Application Market”), where some deeper integrations have to be built and maintained individually. Release 12.2 and the future road map mainly include customer-driven enhancements, and thus, lack vision according to customers. This is positive for the customers base, but isn’t enough to create visionary or market-leading functionality. Together, these facts position Oracle E-Business Suite in the Challengers quadrant of this Magic Quadrant.

Strengths


  • Oracle E-Business Suite offers proven support for GSI deployments, and is well-suited for companies needing support for fast international growth and scalability.
  • Oracle’s continued investment in products provides functional and technology innovations, improved analytics and an enhanced user experience within targeted areas of E-Business Suite.
  • The technical update to release 12.2 provides the opportunity for Oracle clients to reduce the downtime required to install patches and updates, permitting EBS clients to install fixes and new functionality with less disruption to the organization.
  • Oracle has strong company viability and financial stability. It also has a large and vibrant ecosystem of SIs and consultants around the world, with capabilities to deliver to midsize and large enterprise organizations.

Cautions


  • The scalability and breadth of industries covered by Oracle E-Business Suite come at the price of complex implementations and a large amount of overhead in terms of ongoing maintenance, which may be burdensome for smaller midmarket firms. EBS only runs on the Oracle DBMS, which Gartner considers to be expensive.
  • Some customers are concerned about lower account management quality by Oracle. IT procurement professionals consistently rate Oracle as the most challenging vendor with which to do business.
  • Oracle has continued its investment in usability and mobility for Oracle E-Business Suite. However, while customers report that the usability of the application has improved where the UI has been overhauled, there are still major parts of the application that have yet to undergo a UI improvement. Because of the different technologies underlying the EBS application, there are some transaction flows available only in Oracle Forms. Although Oracle plans continued investment to improve the UI for Oracle Forms-based transaction flows, the timing for these changes is unclear.
  • The cost of licensing can make the solution more expensive to purchase and maintain. Customers should check the availability of read-only licenses and self-service modules (for example, for HR, expenses, procurement and so on) to see if any fulfill their requirements as an option to reduce license costs.
  • Customers should be aware that, for Oracle’s “add on” products and Endeca extensions to E-Business Suite, licensing is often set at a premium level.

More detailed information can be reviewed at Gartner page below: http://www.gartner.com/technology/reprints.do?id=1-252J8R8&ct=141120&st=sb

 

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