Oracle's sprawling annual OpenWorld conference doesn't kick off until September, but next week the Oracle user group-backed Collaborate event will be held in Denver.
While smaller in scale than OpenWorld, Collaborate gives Oracle's increasingly diverse customer base a chance to network, get face time with product managers, attend educational sessions and get a glimpse into Oracle's road maps.
The show also gives Oracle watchers a chance to see how the vendor's strategies are resonating among customers in the run-up to OpenWorld. Here's a look at some of the top issues on tap at Collaborate.
Fusion Applications in the field: Oracle has been pushing its next-generation Fusion Applications, the result of a long and expensive development effort, in a gentle manner to customers, emphasizing a "co-existence" strategy where Fusion modules can sit alongside an existing E-Business Suite or PeopleSoft implementation.
Oracle says it has signed up several hundred Fusion Applications customers and a number have shared their stories at Collaborate.
One thing to watch for at this year's show is discussions of broader Fusion rollouts that do more to replace older systems. Such stories could spur confidence among the customer base and quicken Fusion adoption.
In addition, Oracle has said most initial Fusion customers are going with a cloud deployment model. That may be because of the complexity said to be involved with running the software on-premises. Therefore, evidence at Collaborate of a shift to in-house Fusion deployments will be of some note.
Database 12c: The Collaborate catalog is packed with sessions on Oracle's database, from upgrades to optimization and ongoing maintenance.
Hovering over it all is the specter of version 12c, which was expected to be released earlier this year but has yet to surface. The long-in-development upgrade features new technologies such as the "pluggable database" concept, which were discussed in some depth at OpenWorld last year.
But there are still many unknown details regarding 12c and its potential impact on customers' IT environments, as well as the competition
While it's doubtful that Oracle will make a general-availability announcement of 12c at Collaborate, it will be interesting to monitor the level of buzz among attendees about the release's arrival and features.
Upgrade parade and the installed base: Every applications vendor is eager for users to upgrade to the latest software versions, and Oracle is no different. Oracle Applications Users Group members, particularly those running E-Business Suite, have upgrades on the brain these days, and will be looking for tips at the show, said Oracle Applications Users Group board member Patricia Dues , in an interview. (OAUG is putting on Collaborate in conjunction with the Independent Oracle Users Group and the Quest International Users Group.)
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