Oracle Soar – The last upgrade you’ll ever do?

Oracle Soar – The last upgrade you’ll ever do

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

Don’t get us wrong, 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 programme. We’ll examine in this blog what Oracle Soar is and why its unlikely you’ll be ‘Soaring’ to the Cloud anytime soon if you’re anything like the majority of Oracle’s customers.

So, what is Oracle Soar?

Oracle announced its ‘Soar’ initiative back in June 2018 with the strapline ‘the last upgrade you’ll ever do’ – but didn’t really give much information on how it actually worked, only that it will speed up and simplify your Cloud migration – but is this really true?

Oracle’s Soar programme is designed to transition its on-premise applications to Oracle’s Cloud – speeding 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” as it is powered by a series of automated tools to evaluate, configure, and implement each stage of the migration process, meaning 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

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

You probably remember Oracle’s ‘Business Accelerators’, these were industry-specific programmes 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’s Cloud rebranding of Business Accelerators, and it has exactly the same problem. To use Soar properly you cannot be running customisations, as any customisations you are running will either topple over Soar or be stripped out when you transition to the Cloud.

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

Most on-premises ERP customers are using customizations 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, customization sprawl has complicated application management for many companies and, at times, prevented organizations from using newly developed features and capabilities.

Oracle – ERP’s Move to the Cloud Continues to Gain Momentum

But do you think Oracle’s Cloud solution is the perfect fit for your organisation as it is? Most organisations have had to rightly customise their Oracle products over the years to fit their needs and are STILL customising with latest versions, so why would this change now?

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

It would be easy to assume reading Oracle’s marketing that Soar can help any organisation migrate their ERP to the Cloud, but the reality is that its 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 customizations. 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 – 4 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) and running a hybrid Cloud strategy, waiting until everything is Cloud ready, or not moving at all?

3. Oracle are throwing around buzzwords as usual

Oracle are throwing in terms like AI and chatbots into their Cloud and Soar programmes to entice new customers into using them, but again, 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, they did a presentation showing 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 a 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 total package. Not only that, but what is to stop on-premise customers from integrating 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 you system work in the Cloud though, it just tells you what won’t work!)
  • An Intregration Accelerator Plugin to integrate with 3rd 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 so you can 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 and software when its already in the Cloud)

But will these make your Cloud migration as hands-free as Oracle suggest?

Looking 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 claim that their Evaluator Tool uses tools like their ‘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 – so 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 programme.

The reality will likely be very different for the typical Oracle ERP customer – especially when Oracle themselves have taken six years (and still counting) to carry out their own migration of just some of their business.

What is the alternative?

The Soar programme 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 to Oracle, like hosting and supporting your ERP with another Cloud provider (like AWS or Azure), or supporting your on-premise ERP solution indefinitely until you’re ready to switch technologies or 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:

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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 your Oracle ERP support AND be in a Cloud solution in as little as 3 months.