Oracle APS Makes Its Debut

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Oracle APS Makes Its Debut
S. McVey - May 1st, 2000

Event Summary

Oracle Corporation officially released its Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) applications recently with typical fanfare. The new addition to Oracle's e-business suite, Oracle Applications Release 11i, targets companies with extended supply chains that wish to collaborate with business partners via online trading marketplaces.

The four modules, Oracle Demand Planning, Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning, Oracle Global Available To Promise (ATP) Server, and Oracle Manufacturing Scheduling are a response to competition from SAP's Advanced Planner and Optimizer supply chain suite as well as mature products from best-of-breed vendors like i2 Technologies and Manugistics. Among the stated advantages of APS over other planning systems, Oracle points to a single data model that can quickly generate a single, global plan to encompass both high level strategic planning and shop floor detailed scheduling, eliminating time consuming data and plan synchronization.

Market Impact

Combined, the four modules represent a good move for Oracle and complement key areas of its ERP suite with functionality of interest to its manufacturing customer base. The single data model of APS, if proven to be viable, will give it an advantage over other products, including those of Supply Chain king i2 Technologies. i2 has amassed a suite of products largely through acquisition and has struggled to stabilize a common data model upon which to anchor the products.

Contrary to Oracle's marketing banter, however, APS still faces many of the same synchronization challenges as other applications. These are especially relevant for its global Available To Promise (ATP) application. Synchronization is required at periodic intervals for any global ATP application, regardless of the data model, to refresh ATP figures for use by global sales organizations.

Targeted for its larger clients with distributed enterprises, the APS Global ATP Server competes directly with i2's Supply Chain Planner, which is more mature in functionality that polls multiple sites for available capacity and material.

APS brings Oracle into the Supply Chain Management arena, but Oracle is unlikely to see significant revenues from it until calendar 2001. Before Oracle can convince the marketplace of APS superiority, it must first give strong incentives to its sales reps to wean them from selling proven SCM products of other vendors. As Oracle gains more experience in the field, it should consider rounding out its APS suite with advanced planning for logistics, warehouse planning and optimization, and product lifecycle planning.

User Recommendations

Because it is a new product, Oracle users should be able to secure attractive licensing deals for APS in return for giving Oracle a proving ground. Also, Oracle users should remember that APS is supported as an add-on only for Oracle 11i and 10.7 and those with prior releases will be required to upgrade to obtain the new product.

Non-Oracle users have a multitude of advanced planning and scheduling packages from which to choose and APS should not be the prime candidate on their lists. Best-of-breed solutions from i2 Technologies, Manugistics, Logility and others are currently superior alternatives due to the many years these vendors have spent developing, implementing, and supporting supply chain applications.

Oracle's development efforts have undoubtedly produced a package that hits the broad requirements of supply chain planning, but, its inexperience in supply chain makes it difficult to deliver a solution as functionally deep as the others.

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