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Oracle Soar program: The last upgrade you’ll ever do?

We were surprised to read an article last week about how good Oracle’s Soar program is at transitioning organisations to the Cloud. The article lauded Oracle Soar as a new method to easily and speedily move an ERP system to the Cloud. It seemed to gloss over or dismiss several fundamental issues that will cause problems for organisations.

We think any initiative to speed up Oracle’s painfully slow Cloud migration process is good for organisations. But we don’t think Oracle is telling the full story about its Soar program. We’ll outline in this blog what Oracle Soar is, and why its unlikely you’ll be ‘soaring’ to the Cloud anytime soon.

What is Oracle Soar?

Oracle announced its Soar initiative back in June 2018 with the strapline “the last upgrade you’ll ever do.” It didn’t really give much information on how it actually worked. Oracle only mentioned that it could speed up and simplify your Cloud migration. But is this really true?

Oracle’s Soar program is designed to transition on-premise applications to Oracle’s Cloud. It speeds up the migration time from initiation of the service through data conversion to go-live to an estimated 20 weeks.

Oracle says the process is relatively “hands-free.” It is powered by a series of automated tools to evaluate, configure, and implement each stage of the migration process. This means you barely need to lift a finger (in theory).

If you believe Oracle’s marketing team, Soar should mean that all its customers should have an easy time migrating to Cloud in as little as 20 weeks. All you need to do is strip away all your customisations and hope that Oracle’s current Cloud solution fits the needs of your business exactly.

Wait – what?

Five reasons you won’t be ‘soaring’ into the Cloud with Oracle Soar

1. Soar is nothing new and it still has the same old problems

You probably remember Oracle’s Business Accelerators. These were industry-specific programs to speed up on-premise ERP upgrades. The problem with them though was that they only worked if you didn’t use customisations of Oracle’s software.

Soar is just Oracle rebranding Business Accelerators for Cloud migration instead. It has exactly the same problem. To use Soar properly, you cannot be running customisations. Any customisations you are running will either topple over Soar, or get stripped out when you transition to the Cloud.

Oracle, of course, are positioning this as a positive:

Most on-premise ERP customers are using customisations because they’re running an older version of the software that didn’t include the desired functionality out of the box. However, over the years, customisation sprawl has complicated application management for many companies and, at times, prevented organisations from using newly developed features and capabilities.

Oracle – ERP’s move to the Cloud continues to gain momentum

Is Oracle’s Cloud solution the perfect fit for your organisation as it is? Most organisations have had to customise their Oracle products over the years to fit their individual needs. They are STILL customising the latest versions. So why would this change now?

2. It’s not the complete process you think it is

After reading Oracle’s marketing, it would be easy to assume that Soar can help any organisation migrate its ERP to the Cloud. The reality is that it is currently only a piecemeal solution. Gartner identified this back in 2018, and the situation hasn’t changed much since then:

 “The specific target of the Soar offering is the Oracle EBS or PeopleSoft ERP install with few customisations. At the time of writing, Oracle offers this service to customers running Oracle EBS and PeopleSoft Financials and HCM. The target Cloud applications are Oracle HCM Cloud and ERP Cloud. Oracle has plans for manufacturing and supply chain, but those are not yet available.”

Gartner – Four things you need to know before ‘Soaring to the Cloud’ with Oracle ERP Applications

This brings you back to rethinking your Cloud strategy. Are you just moving one or two products to the Cloud (with no customisations)? Are you running a hybrid Cloud strategy, waiting until everything is Cloud ready, or not moving at all?

3. Oracle is throwing around buzzwords as usual

Oracle is talking about technologies like AI and chatbots into its Cloud and Soar programs. This is to entice new customers into using them. We stress that this is not the case for all of Oracle’s products. Only a selection of Oracle’s products are currently available in the Cloud, and only a subsection of these have advanced features like AI (which is actually more like robotic process automation (RPA)) and chatbots.

In Oracle’s initial announcement for Soar, it showed how the Cloud allowed an end-user to use an Amazon Alexa to query and approve expense reports.

Was this flashy? Sure. Was this relevant to Soar, or likely to be used in any real business? No.

Many organisations are questioning whether these new features will be value-adding, especially if they are adding to the cost of the package. Not only that, but why can’t on-premise customers integrate a third-party provider of these types of tools?

4. Soar is not automatic

Oracle says that Soar comes with several tools to automate your Cloud migration:

  • An Evaluator Tool to scan for customisations and intregrations (this doesn’t automatically make your system work in the Cloud, it just tells you what won’t work!)
  • An Intregration Accelerator Plugin to integrate with third parties like SAP (this is useful, but nothing to shout about; it’s the bare minimum you’d expect from modern software)
  • An ERP Visual Builder to integrate new mobile apps, chat bots, etc. (this has nothing to do with speeding up or automating your Cloud migration, it just enables you to add more things to your ERP when it’s in the Cloud)

Will these tools make your Cloud migration as hands-free as Oracle suggests?

Let’s look at Oracle Hyperion as an example. While the Essbase or Financial Management databases underlying Hyperion deployments will often be based around the chart of accounts and are stored in a standard format, interfaces and integrations into these systems and the calculations associated with them are highly customised. The key areas of customisations from our experience are:

  • Split of the chart across databases for performance purposes
  • Data integration to other systems
  • Calculations, particularly out of hour consolidations and allocations for workflow
  • Shell scripts used for maintenance such as backups
  • Integration with Active Directory for user management and security

Oracle claims that its Evaluator Tool uses tools like its ‘Configuration Analyser’ to pick up customisations like these. However, we cannot see any evidence of how this automates the Cloud migration, or any supporting documentation of how this works. We suspect this is very limited.

5. And it’s still not fast

20 weeks to transition to Cloud using Oracle Soar is impressive considering the average time without Soar is 30% longer. But this figure ignores the fact that these migrations are based on non-customised products that are suitable for the Soar program.

The reality will likely be very different for the typical Oracle ERP customer. Even Oracle itself has taken six years to carry out its own migration, and it’s not even fully migrated yet.

What is the alternative?

The Soar program could be the best solution for your organisation if you are looking to migrate specific Oracle products with no customisations to the Cloud. If that’s not you, keep reading.

Third-party support providers like Support Revolution offer some viable alternatives. We can host and support your ERP with another Cloud provider (like AWS or Azure), or support your on-premise ERP solution indefinitely until you’re ready to migrate.

Support Revolution can do this and still save you between 50% and 90% on your support costs, but there are a range of other benefits like:

SolutionOracle
(Standard)
Oracle
(Soar)
Support
Revolution
(Cloud)
Support
Revolution
(On-Premise)
Time to
implement?
6-7
months
4-5
months
3-4
months
3-4
months
Products
supported?
LimitedLimitedAll products
and all
versions
All products
and all
versions
Customisations
supported?
NoNoYesYes
Who does the
work?
You (full DIY)You do, with
some automation
We do (managed service)We do (managed service)

To see how much you could save on Oracle Support, or to explore your Cloud options, send us a message today to book a call with a member of our team. You could be saving at least 50% on Oracle Support AND be in a Cloud solution in as little as three months.

Sources:

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