SAN FRANCISCOFar into the futureor even into the misty reaches of foreveras long as one PeopleSoft customer wheezes over his beloved human resources application, and as long as one J.D. Edwards loyalist frets over a newly discovered flaw, Oracle will be there, President Charles Phillips announced during his opening keynote for Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco on Monday.
The promise is encapsulated in what Oracle Corp. is calling its lifetime support program for all new and existing applications, including the myriad technologies acquired over the past 10 months: PeopleSoft Inc./J.D. Edwards, TimesTen Inc., Retek Inc., i-flex Solutions and, most recently, Siebel Systems Inc.
"As long as someone is using one of our applications, there will be some level of support," Phillips told a packed room that represented a good chunk of the 35,000 showgoers that have bulked up the city this week.
Phillips gave no details as to what "some level of support" means. But he had on Sunday alluded to a gradual backing-off from product innovation during an address to the Oracle Applications Users Group.
During that talk, Phillips said that after some five years, it's likely that only critical product flaws will be addressed.
In a question and answer session with the press following his keynote, Phillips told reporters that over time Oracle will figure out what applications need to retain their usefulness, just as it now does for continued support of products vis-à-vis issues including security and tax updates.
But customers shouldn't expect a lot of changeparticularly since they don't particularly want a lot of change, he said. "They don't want to update a lot," he said. "That's why they're going to lifetime support."
During the Q&A session, Phillips said that the lifetime support program would be available on an annually renewable basis, although pricing details haven't been ironed out yet.
In his keynote, Phillips said that the lifetime support program came out of feedback produced since the PeopleSoft acquisition 10 months ago.
Oracle has since talked to over 4,000 customers, surveying them monthly.
According to Oracle surveys, customer support experience has actually improved for both PeopleSoft and other Oracle customers post-merger.
"They've been pleasantly surprised," Phillips said. "They've learned that Oracle cares about customers."
Addressing customer concerns about product viability is, of course, crucial for Oracle, which faced a mountain of suspicion that it was purchasing PeopleSoft mostly to put its rival out of business.
Phillips also announced a program to integrate support for ISVs.
The One Stop Support for ISVs program will be rolled out for select ISVs as a way to improve multivendor support and provide faster problem resolution.
It will build on Oracle's existing Services for ISVs program and will aim to eliminate missed hand-offs between Oracle and other ISVs as it tries to help customers figure out problems in their complex, multivendor environments.
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