I subscribe to a number of online forums for Oracle EBS professionals – mostly customers.  Quite often lately, there have been several threads discussing the question: is Oracle EBS at end of life?  For many who have invested years and a small fortune in implementing, massaging and evolving EBS to meet their business’ needs, this question can cause considerable heartburn.

If EBS is at its end of life and if we are going to be left with an unsupported legacy system that is the very lifeblood of our business, then what next?  How will we run our business and continue to evolve our core systems to meet ever-changing business demands – especially since there currently does not seem to be anything available in the SaaS world that can fully replicate (much less surpass) the robust functionality provided by EBS.  Are we going to be forced to move to the Cloud faster than we want to?  Are we going to be forced to go through a revolutionary adoption of a SaaS system or a collection of loosely integrated SaaS systems?  Will we need to take a step back in the functionality to which our business partners have grown accustomed?  Will we need to defer business improvements while we re-think and re-implement our ERP strategy?

Oracle is well on its way to creating viable SaaS alternatives for ERP, and some of those offerings are mature enough for prime time.  But for customers using the expanded EBS footprint, especially including areas like supply chain planning and manufacturing, the perception is that a full ERP suite is just not quite there yet.

EBS’s Future

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” -Mark Twain

Recently, Oracle has made some announcements regarding EBS that should put our minds at ease. EBS is not at end of life and it can continue to serve as our core systems ERP foundation for the foreseeable future.  As I discussed in a previous blog Oracle Announces Support for EBS 12.X Through At Least 2030, one of the most important revelations for EBS customers recently was Oracle’s announcement that EBS 12.X will be supported through 2030, effectively adding seven more years beyond what had been previously announced.  This in and of itself takes some pressure off EBS customers and allows time to plan for, and evolve our next moves.

Additionally, Oracle is expecting upcoming version upgrades including “just-about-annual double-point releases” for the next couple of years to bring it to version 12.2.7 and 12.2.8 with a major upgrade to 12.3 expected in 2019 or 2020: Major Oracle E-business suite upgrade coming in 2019, or maybe 2020.

So, the good news is that we can continue using EBS as our core ERP system and we aren’t going to be forced to try to replace it with SaaS.  But what if we also want to take steps to evolve to the Cloud?   As the world moves to Cloud computing and taking advantage of the benefits, Oracle is providing us a path to use EBS as our foundation to progress to Cloud at our own pace – however aggressive or conservative we want that particular pace to be.

EBS as a Foundation to Migrate to the Cloud

In his address to OpenWorld 2016, Cliff Godwin, SVP of Applications Development at Oracle laid out the company’s strategy for EBS moving forward.  Their overarching guiding factors are:

  1. Protecting your investment in EBS
  2. Extending the value of your EBS
  3. Embracing new innovation with rapid deployment of Oracle Cloud solutions with EBS.

So, how do EBS customers keep their ERP foundation and still benefit from some of the advantages of Cloud computing?  Most importantly, Oracle is providing a path for EBS customers to move from on-premise or traditionally-hosted environments to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This provides us with the ability to leverage the Public Cloud to improve agility, flexibility, scalability, reliability, and save money.  A discussion of these benefits is in Oracle’s whitepaper: Oracle E-Business Suite on Oracle Cloud: Where Agility and Innovation Meet Choice and Control.  It’s also worth noting that we can potentially even improve security via capabilities like database encryption, database vault, and identity management all of which are enabled as part of IaaS for EBS.  Further, as discussed in Take a Look at Disaster Recovery for EBS on IaaS, disaster recover becomes much more straightforward to implement.

Obviously, each organization is different and the benefits of IaaS options vary based on our unique circumstances, but the ability to move EBS, either production environments and/or selected ancillary (development, test, training, etc…) environments to that model provides us the option of leveraging what makes sense for our organizations.  Gartner lays out some basic IaaS options in 3 Journeys for Migrating a Data Center to Cloud IaaS where they discuss the various possibilities – from moving specific applications to the Cloud architecture to entire data centers. In this sense, we now have the ability to evolve our EBS core systems to a more Cloud-based architecture while not yet having to tackle the considerably more complex move or ERP to SaaS.

EBS Deployment Options on Oracle Cloud provides Oracle’s discussion of options and 5 Simple Ways To Shape Your Cloud contains some different options from SmartDog for “Cloud-Shaping”: different concrete possibilities to examine as we consider what is valuable based on the opportunities within our specific organizations.

Evolving to SaaS at Our Own Pace

New SaaS applications and services can provide new or better functionality to augment our base EBS foundation. Moving EBS from on-premise to IaaS can provide us with a more straightforward and secure approach to supplementing EBS by integrating with these new and evolving external applications and services.  Because of the intrinsic Cloud architecture foundation of EBS on IaaS, we have the opportunity to integrate with outside applications and services while mitigating the risk and potential extra effort to punch a hole in our firewall for our on-premise or hosted solutions. In short, when EBS is in a Cloud architecture, it is on a foundation built to safely integrate with outside systems and services.  For more information from Oracle on integrating with EBS on Cloud, take a look at How Can I Integrate Third-Party Products with EBS on Oracle Cloud?

Moving Forward with EBS as our Cloud Foundation

We are in a rapidly changing environment brought about by Cloud applications and Cloud capabilities.  Using EBS as our foundation can provide us with a basic footing to step into the Cloud deliberately and at a pace that makes sense for us.  We know that EBS will be around and will be supported for over ten more years. As a result, we know that we don’t have to engage in revolutionary change to SaaS applications to replace our core ERP system at this point – we know that we can take an evolutionary approach by moving EBS to IaaS to take advantage of the intrinsic benefits of the Cloud architecture sensibly where and how it adds value for us – to find a practical path to the Cloud while still leveraging our investments in Oracle E-Business Suite.  As we make that move, we can also employ EBS to take advantage of external Cloud applications and services where it makes sense to our organizations – another step in our evolution to SaaS applications and services.

In an article published in Oracle’s Profit Magazine (January 2014)  What’s the Future of SaaS in Relation to our ERP Systems?, I wrote: “As a result of technology like Oracle’s Cloud Integration, perhaps the ERP system of the future will not be a single system. Instead, it may consist of a composite applications architecture that integrates large-scale ERP systems (like Oracle E-Business Suite) with SaaS applications to handle functions such as sales, HR, recruiting, procurement and/or logistics. These applications will need to work together as if they were a single system, and must offer real-time availability for functions like e-commerce and customer service.” Oracle has taken the concrete steps to allow us to do this –  our ERP system can remain our core systems, based in a Cloud architecture, while providing the foundation for SaaS applications and services that expand the reach and breadth of our ERP system.

More Information

If you have basic questions about IaaS and the difference with traditional hosting here are a couple of good articles to help: Traditional Hosting vs. Cloud Computing: What’s The Difference? and Oracle Cloud Q & A.

For more information from Oracle on running EBS in the Cloud, please visit their landing pad at: Oracle E-Business Suite on Oracle Cloud.