April 7, 2021
SAP isn’t the only ERP vendor that wants to move on-prem customers to its cloud-based option. Its top rival, Oracle, appears to have similar aims. The company has made public commitments to continue supporting its JD Edwards customers for years to come, so there is no immediate reason to panic. But considering the investments that customers make in their ERP environments, JD Edwards customers should pay close attention to what comes next.
When Oracle bought PeopleSoft in 2004 for $10.3 billion, it also acquired the JD Edwards portfolio. That includes the World line, which only runs on IBM i, and the EnterpriseOne line, which runs on IBM i and other operating systems, including Windows, Unix, and Linux.
In April 2020, Oracle published a series of roadmap documents that provided guidance for World and EnterpriseOne customers. The software giant spelled out its support commitments for both JD Edwards products in this document.
That document shows that Oracle is committed to providing premiere support for EnterpriseOne version 9.2 at least through December 2031. For World A9.4, Oracle is committed to providing premiere support through April 2022 and extended support through April 2025.
EnterpriseOne 9.2 and World A9.4, both of which Oracle first shipped in 2015, are likely to be the last major releases of the ERP systems you can expect from Oracle.
“We will focus on delivering future new enhancements releases on the 9.2 code line,” the company says in the FAQ section of the document. “We have solid product plans to deliver ongoing releases to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2 . . . [W]e plan to do so as easy-to-consume updates on top of the 9.2 release, rather than as a major release. If needed, a future major release is in our roadmap.”
Similarly, the company states that, for JD Edwards World, any future enhancements, regulatory updates, and technology improvements will be delivered on the A9.4 code base under the Premier Support timeline. In other words, don’t expect a major new release of World, and don’t expect any new functionality or application enhancements after April 2022 (although you can expect tax and regulatory updates through 2025 if you’re on extended support).
Oracle is confident that it can deliver any needed enhancements to World A9.4 and EnterpriseOne 9.2 through its “Continuous Innovation” process, which has been in place at Oracle since 2014. “With the Continuous Innovation delivery model, we plan to deliver all new functionality to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne as updates to the existing release; upgrades are not required to gain access to new features and capabilities,” the company writes.
The company is committing to delivering two or three updates to EnterpriseOne 9.2 annually, and for World A9.4 on an “as needed” basis, the company says.
Of course, not all JD Edwards customers are on EnterpriseOne 9.2 or World A9.4. On EnterpriseOne, there are many customers still running version 8 releases of the ERP system, while on World, A7.3 would appear to be the final stop for many companies JD Edwards’ journeys. Getting these companies to upgrade to the v9 releases of both World and EnterpriseOne is a priority for Oracle, and has been for some time. Every company will need to decide if it makes sense for their particular situation. (Although, if you’ve been paying the 22 percent maintenance fee for the past 15 or 20 years, you have to ask yourself: What are you waiting for?)
When December 2031 finally arrives, a mere 128 months from now, it’s quite possible that Oracle will have extended the support timeframes for EnterpriseOne 9.2 (the odds seem less favorable for an extension of World A9.4). “We will evaluate the support dates annually and determine when it makes sense to extend the Premier and Extended Support time horizons,” the company states for EnterpriseOne.
In November 2020, Oracle released a minor update to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. With EnterpriseOne Tools Release 9.2.5, the company has delivered updates in the areas of digital transformation, user experience, system automation, and security.
It’s also worth noting the moves that Oracle made with EnterpriseOne Tools, which is the technological underpinning for the applications component that runs separately. Oracle announced that Tools will run in 64-bit mode on Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX servers, adding to the 64-bit support that already existed for IBM i, Windows Server, Oracle Linux, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It also announced the end of support for running EnterpriseOne Tools in 32-bit mode on Solaris and HP-UX, and announced that 9.2.5 will be the last version of Tools to run on 32-bit mode on Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Microsoft Windows, IBM i, and AIX.
It’s nice to have 64 bits of addressable memory, but JD Edwards customers should take a long-term view of their ERP investments. Oracle is by no means the only ERP vendor that’s struggling to get customers to upgrade from aged ERP releases. It’s a problem that has dogged Infor, which accepted the role of Consolidator General for a gaggle of IBM i-based ERP systems, from BPCS and MAPICS to System21 and A+. And it’s also a problem currently impacting Oracle’s closest rival, SAP, which has also been forced to reckon with the longevity of its R/3 legacy in the modern, cloud-based age of S/4 Hana.
ERP expert Eric Kimberling, the CEO of Third Stage Consulting, recently offered some advice to JD Edwards customers (he addressed only EnterpriseOne, which represents the majority of JD Edwards customers at this time).
For starters, Kimberling advises customers against a hurried migration off their current ERP system.
“First and foremost, it is important to recognize that 2030 is a long way away,” Kimberling says (Oracle is committed to supporting the system through 2031). “Even once 2030 arrives — and assuming Oracle discontinues support for EnterpriseOne at that time — this isn’t the end of the world. It may not be the most innovative way to define your longer-term digital transformation strategy, but it could mean that staying the course is the right answer for now.”
Kimberling encourages customers to perform a gap analysis to identify any functionality that is not currently in EnterpriseOne 9.2 and that the company decides that it currently needs, or will need in the future.
“If this version meets your needs, there may be no need to rush to replace the system,” he says. “If there are material gaps, then it may make sense to begin your roadmap to transition away from JD Edwards.”
Judging from its recent release history, Kimberling is not bullish on Oracle adding much in the way of functionality to EnterpriseOne 9.2. He says that recent enhancements from Oracle have been relatively minor, focusing on things like an improved user interface, streamlined processes, and other incremental changes. Other ERP vendors, however, have been adding support for things like machine learning and predictive analytics. So if those are important features for you, then EnterpriseOne 9.2 may not fit the bill.
Like other ERP vendors, Oracle is actively selling its cloud-based offerings, including NetSuite, which Oracle bought in 2016 for about $9.3 billion. “We have learned from a number of sales reps from Oracle and Oracle partners that Oracle is incentivizing NetSuite and ERP Cloud sales over that of JD Edwards,” Kimberling says.
In the end analysis, Oracle still has thousands of JD Edwards customers, and it would like to keep them as customers. While the end of the road for World is coming sooner than it is for EnterpriseOne, it’s doubtful that Oracle will be selling licenses for either of these systems 10 years from now. Oracle has been encouraging, and will continue to encourage, World customers to move to EnterpriseOne. Once on the latest, greatest release of EnterpriseOne, Oracle has a long-term plan for providing maintenance and support, which it can do all day long at 22 percent-plus.
The end goal for Oracle, however, undoubtedly is to provide EnterpriseOne customers a bridge to whatever comes next. In the past, that was its consolidated ERP suite, dubbed Fusion. Today, it’s ERP running in the cloud. Getting to the latest EnterpriseOne release and staying there will position you to make that leap to whatever Oracle has next. The question for EnterpriseOne shops is whether that’s a leap they would like to make above the Oracle net.
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