A new generation of internet-savvy users and their needs have dictated the development of the next generation Fusion applications, says Oracle’s head of application development.

Fusion is the project that’s apparently going to pull together all the various product portfolios that Oracle has gobbled up over the past few years, including Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Retek, and result in a new generation of applications built on a single code base.

"There is a next generation of application expectations that users are going to have about how they get their work done," said John Wookey, vice president of application development. "We have categories of users coming into the workforce now for whom the internet isn't something new. They think about working through tools that were always developed on their desktops; they are expecting more and more that enterprises are going to support that approach for how they work.

"The world of Web 2.0 is coming into the enterprise space, which is a better way for users to get their job done, and that’s why we are investing in Fusion. As the technology changes and evolves, we asked ourselves how we can improve our customers' ability to get the job done."

It promises users the ability to work from within Microsoft Outlook or Google Docs & Spreadsheets without switching between different application windows. An Oracle applications applet, containing important software such as inventory management or business intelligence, is integrated into the Outlook user interface or Google Docs & Spreadsheets software interface. "We’re part of the desktop, but we’re not the desktop," Wookey explained.

Wookey said that while Oracle could have retro-fitted new functionality onto old products, it was better to build from the ground up. He compared the Fusion project to the Wikipedia user generated online encyclopedia where the alternative would be the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica.

He also pledged that customers running non-Oracle databases would continue to be supported. "We are sincere and passionate about continuing to support DB2 and SQL Server. You will continue to see great support for those platforms," Wookey said.

He also promised that no users would be made to move up onto Fusion. "We allow you as a customer to chose how, when and if its appropriate to move to that next generation technology and not feel that you have to make a move, simply because you're not seeing the kind of investment in your current product lines to make your company more successful," he declared. "What is very important to us is to ensure that in the end the decisions you make are based on your business objectives, not on a timeline that a vendor puts in front of you."

Fusion remains scheduled to begin appearing next year, followed by the full suite in 2008.