JD Edwards Customers Face Support Decisions
August 3, 2022 Alex Woodie
JD Edwards was the gold standard for ERP software on the IBM midrange server for many years. But with end-of-support dates looming from Oracle, many JD Edwards customers – especially users of the World package – must make some decisions about the future of their ERP system.
In April, as it has planned for years, Oracle ceased providing premiere support for JD Edwards World, the older, RPG-based ERP package originally developed. This marks the first time in decades that the World product is not under mainstream support from its owner.
However, the software giant will continue to honor extended support agreements, which will give World customers tax and regulatory updates through 2025. This gives World customers an additional three years to figure out what to do with their software before Oracle stops providing any support.
Roger Harris, who is the president and general manager of a Colorado-based provider of technical services for JD Edwards customers called MSS Technologies, LLC, says he still has a handful of World customers, although most of them are EnterpriseOne accounts.
However, Harris said he is consistently signing up new World customers, which he said is due to other business partners getting out of the World business.
“They’ve been working with someone for 25 years and they’re a good partner, and they say ‘Oh, we’re not going to support World anymore,’” he said. “Well guess what? They’ve got to find somebody, so they call me, because we will. About half my staff knows World.”
It’s not necessarily time for World customers to panic, according to Harris, who recommends that customers stay current on maintenance. But World customers should definitely start thinking about their future, he said.
“If they have HR-payroll [on World], I am genuinely concerned, because they can’t get tax updates and things like that that you need. And that’s not something you want to program,” Harris said. “If it’s just somebody who runs manufacturing, distribution, financials, I’m not overly concerned because I’ll tell you, I think we can go fix it. If it’s RPG III, you can go out there and a programmer that’s good can go out and fix it.”
Harris recommends that World customers take a serious look at moving to EnterpriseOne, which will be familiar to existing World users and will also be easier for the younger generation of workers to learn.
“It takes a little bit of training and a little bit of cost to get there, but I’ve never had anyone saying I would like to go back,” Harris told IT Jungle. “EnterpriseOne is browser-based. It looks like something on the Web. I tell people you can move from World to EnterpriseOne pretty easy, but if you ever go the other direction, it is like trying to run upstream.”
There are a multitude of business functions that are just easier to accomplish in EnterpriseOne than World, Harris said. For example, working with attachments in World can be tough, but attachments are an integrated function in EnterpriseOne. You can also have a composite page in EnterpriseOne where a user can easily work with spec sheets for parts, the supplier’s website on one EnterpriseOne screen, he said.
Getting data from the ERP system into Excel is also much easier with EnterpriseOne than World.
“In the past, you had to stand on one foot, touch your nose and your ear with your other hand to get Excel to download from JD Edwards World. It can be done, but it’s tough. It’s a click of a button in EnterpriseOne from day one,” he said. “It’s just so much more efficient with the technology that’s available. I do believe with EnterpriseOne, Oracle is on top of the technology world.”
When it comes to EnterpriseOne, there is also a roadmap with a potential end-of-support date from Oracle, but it is much further out (2033). According to Oracle’s current support roadmap document, it will offer premiere support for EnterpriseOne through 2033. That is two years longer than when we last checked in with Oracle two years ago.
The fact that Oracle is pledging to support EnterpriseOne for at least the next 11 years actually should be commended, according to Harris, who says he doesn’t see such long-term commitments from Oracle’s competitors.
“Nobody goes out and says it’s supported that far into the future and has a roadmap, and they all turn that around to make it sound like a negative thing for JD Edwards because they say it ends in 2033,” Harris said. “Well, I think it’s a positive thing that they’ve got the [guts] to say it’s going to be out there that far, and they publish it. And every year, it goes out one or two more years.”
Oracle may not have invested a ton of resources into JD Edwards World, which is still used by around 600 companies by some estimates. But at least Oracle kept the lights on, which is more than other ERP vendors did with acquired ERP customer bases and ERP code bases, according to Harris.
“I give Oracle and JD Edwards credit. They didn’t do what all these other vendors did. They stayed with support. They upgraded it,” he said. “It was World A7.3 and World A8.1 When EnterpriseOne started, and it’s up to 9.4 now. And so several releases have come out. Now, is there a lot of cool stuff in all those releases? No. But at least the releases are keeping current. So they’ve done pretty well.”
Harris says it’s likely that some World customers will likely never move off the ERP platform, which was written in RPG III. He has one manufacturing client in Colorado that has such a complex product configurator that it would be a lot of work to move it to EnterpriseOne or another system. That will provide JD Edwards business partners like him a steady supply of consulting work for the foreseeable future.
“They just bought a new ‘400,” Harris said. “I don’t think they’ll ever move. So they’re going to need somebody like us to support them, because they’re not self-sufficient.”
The IBM i platform factors into the JD Edwards equation in several ways. World only runs on IBM i hosts, of course, but EnterpriseOne was developed in the modern architecture and runs on several platforms, including IBM i, and Windows. About 10 percent of my EnterpriseOne installed base runs on IBM i, Harris said.
The biggest headwind against JD Edwards at this point is rumors of its demise. While the days are numbered for World, EnterpriseOne has a lot of life left, Harris said. However, Oracle’s internal sales team has pushed a migration to cloud-based ERP heavily into the JD Edwards installed base, to the detriment of JD Edwards.
“JD Edwards is not dead,” Harris said. “Of course, if you’ve got salespeople out there making money off one thing, they’re going got say the other thing is dead. If you’re selling Fords, you’re going to say Chevy is discontinuing that model – you don’t want to buy it. That’s what’s happening.”
Oracle refused IT Jungle’s request to comment for this story.