End of Tech Support Looms for JD Edwards Shops
February 14, 2013 Alex Woodie
Thousands of JD Edwards customers will be running mostly unsupported ERP applications on completely unsupported operating systems if they don’t upgrade their critical systems by the end of the year. Oracle is sticking by its decision to end mainstream support this December for JD Edwards World applications, many of which are still running on IBM‘s i5/OS V5R4, which IBM is killing in September. EnterpriseOne shops on old releases also face a deadline. “It’s a pretty critical time for those customers,” says Oracle’s JD Edwards chief Lyle Ekdahl.
In December, Oracle will stop providing most forms of tech support for older versions of both JD Edwards product lines, including EnterpriseOne and World, according to Oracle’s most recent application support matrix.
For World, Oracle will end “premier support” for World versions A7.3 and A8.1, which debuted in the years 1996 and 1997 respectively. For JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, support will end for OneWorld Xe and version 8, which debuted in 2000 and 2002, respectively.
Oracle is committed to indefinitely provide “sustaining support” for the World and EnterpriseOne software. Sustaining support is the lowest form of support, where Oracle will help a customer if it can, but is under no obligation to do so. Extended support is the middle tier of support offered for both products. Premier support is the top tier of support for World. For EnterpriseOne, Oracle breaks top-tier support into two categories, including updates, fixes, security alerts, and upgrade scripts on the one hand, and tax, legal, and regulatory updates on the other.
The percentage of current World customers running these older versions is quite large. According to Ekdahl (who didn’t have exact numbers), approximately 55 to 60 percent of customers are still running on World A7.3 and A8.1. About 35 percent of EnterpriseOne customers are running OneWorld Xe and version 8, he says.
(Editor’s Note: This story originally stated that World A7.3 and A8.1 are dependent on i5/OS V5R4. That is not true. In fact, Oracle made changes to its applications specifically so World could run on the newer IBM OSes.)
Oracle doesn’t share exact customer-base figures. According to the best available estimates, there are about 1,500 World customers under contract with Oracle, which would mean that it has between 825 and 900 World shops running old software. The EnterpriseOne customer base is much bigger–around 4,000–and 35 percent of that translates to 1,400 EnterpriseOne shops running old software.
JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Oracle have tried in vain for years to get the ERP customers–particularly those running World A7.3 and A8.1–to upgrade to newer versions of the applications, but they just don’t budge. IBM faces the same stubbornness in getting these customers to move off aging AS/400 and iSeries hardware and system software.
“Some of the machinery that’s out there, especially with some of these older release like A7.3, is getting really, really old,” says Ekdahl, whose official title is group vice president and general manager for Oracle’s JD Edwards unit. “I’ve recently talked to customers who are buying parts for their old IBM gear on eBay. So that’s a very serious risk for those customers.”
The December 2013 end-of-life date has been known about for years. There was concern back in 2006, soon after Oracle acquired about 6,500 JD Edwards customers through its PeopleSoft acquisition, that Oracle would end support for all of the JD Edwards products in December 2013, and force them to Fusion Applications. Oracle alleviated those concerns, you will recall, by limiting the end of standard tech support to the older products. Since then, Oracle has done well by JD Edwards customers, and shipped several new releases that pack new functionality. And Big Red–while it has pushed its own hardware and middleware stack over Big Blue’s stack–has backed off on Fusion, to the relief of customers.
Oracle is in the same boat as IBM in getting these AS/400 customers to move off IT systems that are 10- to 20-years old. IBM has pushed back its i5/OS V5R4 end-of-life date before, but this time it’s sticking to the September 2013 deadline. Oracle is also sticking to its guns, and brandishing a form of tough love.
“I think the [customers will finally upgrade] when we quit pushing out those dates,” Ekdahl says. “At some point we’ve got to stick with the days. I think that’s what we’re going to see this time. And hopefully these customers get moving. The world is not going to end on that day, because they’re running stable software. But the reality is, over time they’re running risks that, frankly, I think have marketplace implications. Some of these are public companies. I would think that’s something that has to be reported.”
Oracle has been vocal about the need for these customers to move, and it’s planning on ramping up the volume and intensity this year for one last push to help these World and EnterpriseOne shops move onto mainstream releases. Oracle has an “upgrade in 100 days” program that it hopes will alleviate fear and ignite furious upgrade action.
“If they would come and engage with us, we can help them understand that it’s a lot easier and cheaper to upgrade than they thought was possible, and they can actually be reaping benefits from all the investment that we’ve put into the products,” Ekdahl says.
Losing thousands of paying customers would certainly not be good financially for Oracle. Many customers balk at the maintenance fees that Oracle charges (about 22 percent on average for new deals), which provides a nice steady stream of revenue for Oracle. You can’t argue that Oracle hasn’t actively developed the product, yet customers have not kept current with the releases. The burden of testing new functions and technologies against their customized installation also looms large, as does the burden that the move to IBM i 6.1 has, and the hesitance to upgrade it creates in V5R4 shops.
Oracle has big incentives to keep JD Edwards companies happy and productive members of the Oracle family. New midrange Power7+ servers are also providing big incentives for system upgrades. Those are the carrots. The sticks will arrive in December.
This article was corrected. JD Edwards World A7.3 and A8.1 are not dependent on i5/OS V5R4, as the story originally stated. In fact, they can run on IBM i 6.1 and 7.1. IT Jungle regrets the error.