OAUG President Q&A: Interview with Alyssa Johnson on Upgrading to E-Business Suite 12

A critical choice facing Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) members now is how and when to migrate to E-Business Suite 12.  OAUG president Alyssa Johnson will be addressing this and other topics in her presentations at COLLABORATE 14, the annual Oracle conference hosted by OAUG, IOUG, and Quest, scheduled for April 7-11 in Las Vegas. Here, Johnson discusses the challenges facing OAUG members now.

What are the most pressing issues that Oracle Applications users are facing now?

Johnson: Even more so today, users are facing a lot of choices from Oracle. Navigating all the options that are available to them is always a challenge – and something that the OAUG tries to help them with. One of the ways OAUG does that is by providing strong educational content – whether that be at COLLABORATE or in our e-learning sessions or our conference database. This gives them the information that they need in order to make decisions.

What are the key choices?

Johnson: The choices they are facing are not only within product families but now we have of course EBS 12.1.3 that has been available for several years, 12.2, we have the option of Fusion, we have the option of the cloud, either on-premise or off premise. There are many options to consider when choosing Oracle applications.

How is the migration to the latest version of EBS going?

Johnson: I think that from Oracle’s metrics, they would say that the majority of their customers are on release 12 but again I think a substantial portion of the customer base is still on 11i and they are in the process of moving to release 12 because the 11i support dates – although they have been extended by Oracle – are in the near future in terms of the whole IT roadmap. They really need to start planning now and one of the decisions that they will have to make is whether to go to 12.1.3 or go to 12.2.

How do companies decide on EBS 12.1.3 vs. 12.2?

Johnson: I am actually presenting at COLLABORATE on this very topic. Making the choice – release 12.1, 12.2, and/or Fusion and I think when the customer looks at the choices available, they might lean towards 12.1.3 if they are risk-averse – do they want to go to a release that thousands of other customers are already on, and about which there is lots of information on My Oracle Support in terms of upgrading.

If that is the case, why would a company choose 12.2 over 12.1.3?

Johnson: I think what will be a driver for some companies to go to 12. 2 will be the features that it offers – most importantly the online patching. If you are a manufacturing facility or a global organization that really requires that their instance be up 24/7 then I think that is the version that they are going to be looking at.

What is the disadvantage?

Johnson:  Going to 12.2 presents its own set of challenges because of course there are very few customers that actually are live on 12.2. It does require additional skill sets especially because you have a whole new architecture in terms of the technical stack because of the online patching.  I think that is something that a company will have to consider when deciding which way to move and that is the kind of information that we are trying to help provide – what are the skills sets that you are going to need in order to move to 12.2? Do you have those in place? How can you get the skills sets required if you decide to make that move?

How fast do companies have to make their move?

Support for 11i ends December 2015 and companies will move into sustaining support.  Of course, Oracle has an Applications Unlimited policy so you still do have a level of support - but at that point you don’t receive 24/7 support for Severity Level 1 issues or new bug fixes. You no longer get legislative or HR updates, so it really is a reduction of service at that point, although you do still have the Applications Unlimited coverage.

If a company upgrades to 12.2 aren’t they saving themselves an incremental upgrade?

Johnson: I’ll quote something I heard Cliff Godwin, senior vice president of Applications Development at Oracle, say at OpenWorld 2013.  He said Oracle doesn’t want EBS users to feel like they are on the upgrade treadmill. That is why Oracle pushed out the 12.1 extended support to December 2019. So now a customer can go to 12.1 and not have to turn around the next year and do the upgrade to 12.2.

How did you become personally involved with OAUG?

Johnson: Actually, talking to users was one of the ways I became involved with OAUG. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job and I am always very happy to share information with the user base. I have been an active member for 10 years now – coming up on 11.

Your role at OAUG is of course a volunteer position. Can you tell us about your work professionally with Oracle applications?

Johnson: I am a practice director for our financial practice at Rolta Americas, which is a system integrator for not only EBS but also Oracle EPM products and BI products. I have responsibility for managing that practice. Currently, I am the engagement manager at a large company in the Northeast that has done a couple of large projects.

What projects are you working on?

Johnson: They did an acquisition and we did the conversion of that acquired company from SAP to Oracle, and we are also right in the middle of their R12 upgrade. They are upgrading to 12.1.3 with a go-live date of the first part of May. I have been here almost 2 years and it has been a big project and I am really excited to see them go live with R12.

You will be addressing all of these considerations in your presentation at COLLABORATE.

Johnson: Yes, and I am excited to talk to the users about that. I am actually speaking at COLLABORATE 14 on three different topics. I am also going to be talking about EBS Release 12 Best Practices for the Subledger Accounting Engine and GL. And then also a topic on the “wish list” from our members on how to use the Release 12 Report Manager.

One event produced by three independent users groups, OAUG, IOUG, and Quest International Users Group, COLLABORATE 14 takes place April 7-11, 2014 at The Venetian and Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.