Those who have upgraded to Release 12.2 of Oracle E-Business Suite have the peace of mind that they will be supported for at least the next decade, currently until the end of 2032. More than that, the product continues to be developed, which is underlined by the recent Oracle E-Business Suite Innovations announcement from Oracle, which incorporates Release 12.2.11 and the latest update of Enterprise Command Centres.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article, Oracle E-Business: time to make a decision on your future, which set out the options lying ahead for Oracle E-Business users on Release 12.1 (or previous releases). Now, as the Premier Support deadline looms, organisations have a number of options.
What’s changed in the last couple of years?
The obvious thing is the Covid-19 pandemic, during which many organisations have had to prioritise survival and the IT implications of the “new normal” of remote or hybrid working over upgrading their back-office systems. For some, this has meant delays in investment decisions.
As a result of this and the impending deadline, the number of organisations upgrading to Release 12.2 upgrades this year has surged. Despite this recent movement, we estimate that 30-40% of enterprises using Oracle E-Business in the UK and Ireland are still on Release 12.1.
Taking the right path
Given that the sands of time have nearly run out before the support deadline, what are the choices for the roughly one-third of organisations in the UK and Ireland still on Oracle E-Business Release 12.1?
Firstly, there’s the choice of a final destination. Some will want to upgrade Oracle E-Business to R12.2 and benefit from the continued support and innovation from Oracle, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be forced to change by the supplier for at least the next decade. Others will decide to implement Oracle’s Cloud Applications suite, or indeed move away from Oracle technology entirely to a different applications supplier.
Whatever the strategic direction, in the short term, the end of Premier Support presents a problem: as the product moves into Sustaining Support, Oracle will no longer provide new fixes, security or legislation updates. This means that you run the risk of hitting problems that cannot be resolved, becoming non-compliant, or that you won’t receive legislative updates if you use Oracle Payroll.
For those customers continuing to take Sustaining Support beyond the end of this year, Oracle is offering Market Driven Support (MDS) for up to two years for users who are either upgrading Oracle E-Business or implementing Oracle Cloud Applications. Although it is not a like-for-like replacement for Premier Support (read the small print), it does help to plug the gap and buy organisations more time to complete these projects. Oracle will charge additional fees for this service on top of standard support and maintenance, and it is only purchasable on an annual basis.
Other service providers may be offering similar. For example, Claremont has an Extended Managed Service offering for Managed Service customers to help fill the gap. There are more limitations than MDS (such as not providing Payroll legislation patches), but it can be offered on a more flexible basis commercially.
The other route that we’ve seen some organisations follow, as explored in my 2019 article, is to take third-party support from the likes of Support Revolution or Rimini Street. This replaces Oracle Support and Maintenance with a service that can provide some significant cost reductions. Again, it’s very important to read the small print and understand exactly what you’re getting. While this clearly works for some organisations, we have seen others move back to Oracle support.
Infrastructure Cloud and 19c Database upgrades
There are a couple of points to look at when assessing the 19c upgrade path and Infrastructure Cloud.
One of the main paths identified in my 2019 blog has been followed by many: as part of a wider “cloud-first” move across the industry, many have used the R12.2 upgrade project to migrate Oracle E-Business onto a cloud infrastructure platform such as OCI, Claremont Cloud, AWS or Microsoft Azure.
There is another support deadline coming up that’s relevant to roadmap planning for Oracle E-Business users. The Extended Support fees for Oracle Database 12.1 used for Oracle E-Business are waived until 31 July 2022. Many organisations upgrading to Oracle E-Business R12.2 also still need to upgrade to Oracle Database 19c. Most are planning to do this next year after the EBS upgrade.
“Do nothing” isn’t really an option moving into next year if you’re still on R12.1. You need to put a support provision in place that marries with where you are as an organisation, and what your plans are for Oracle E-Business over the next few years.