The decision to create a single-instance architecture was made shortly after the seminal 1999 merger between JDS Fitel and Uniphase Corp., which formed the basis of the current company, and JDS Uniphase went live on its hosted Oracle software in May 2000. As new companies were acquired—JDSU was built from more than 40 different mergers and acquisitions—they were brought onto the system in short order. Given the service's steady performance, any initial concerns about such issues as security and performance have long since faded away, says John Abel, the company's director of global information technology.
JDSU has increased the functionality of its hosted systems over time. "Oracle gives us the core backbone of what we need, and we have added complementary systems that are hosted at the same location," says Abel. "We started with the core ERP, and added things like our own, internally built data warehouse." Centralized applications for finance and order processing were added in 2002, concurrent with an upgrade to Oracle 11i. "The upgrade was like flicking a switch—it was completed over a weekend for all our sites at one time," says Abel. "There was no real business downtime."
The partnership with Oracle has endured as JDSU has changed its business processes to accommodate lower-cost, offshore manufacturing and altered its product mix. Along the way, the IT group's business-systems analysts have looked for ways to leverage the hosted system. One example: An analyst suggested that more of the information available online to customer-service representatives be made accessible to the customers themselves; the result was an online order-status function that allows customers to check on the progress of their orders without making a phone call, which means savings for JDSU and faster service for customers.
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Abel's advice for companies considering a move to hosted software is to plan carefully. Switching a major software system to an outsourcing provider can mean making a big transition all at once. "The key is to test, test, test," he says. "Don't do it during your busiest quarter, or at the end of a quarter. Make sure you have enough support coverage to handle issues for the first 60 to 90 days. The goal should be to have things in a steady state before you reach the end of your first quarter."
JDSU will continue to look for ways to outsource software, he says. "We will look at doing more. At this point, we think it's fairly routine."
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