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JD Edwards Week: "Ask Me Anything" with JD Edwards Executives

During Quest Forum Digital Event: JD Edwards Week, JD Edwards executives gathered for an “Ask Me Anything” panel to answer any and all questions from the JD Edwards community.

The panel was made up of:

  • Lyle Ekdahl, Senior Vice President of Product Development
  • Bob Monahan, Vice President of JD Edwards Product Management
  • Gary Grieshaber, Vice President of JD Edwards Product Management
  • Jon Green, Senior Director of JD Edwards Support
  • Paul Houtkooper, Senior Director of Oracle EnterpriseOne Development

Let’s get into the Q&A!

“Ask Me Anything” with JD Edwards Executives

What version of JD Edwards are audience members on?

Poll: The presentation started with a poll of the audience to find out what JD Edwards version the majority are on. The options were EnterpriseOne 9.2, EnterpriseOne 9.1 or prior, world A9.4, World A9.3 or prior, or Unsure. The poll showed that:

  • 76 percent of listeners were on EnterpriseOne 9.2
  • 18 percent answered that they were on EnterpriseOne 9.1 or prior
  • No audience members reported that they were on World A9.4, A9.3, or prior
  • 6 percent of listeners were unsure what release they were on

It seems like Orchestrator is getting a lot of uptake right now. What are some of the most common ways that Orchestrator is being used?

Gary: Orchestrator is such a broad tool with broad applicability. It’s come such a long way from its IoT Orchestrator roots and has evolved significantly. A lot of the use case scenarios are quick wins and some are more transformational in nature. On the quick wins side, we’ve seen a lot of cases of automating a process that’s multi-step. When you put those steps together into an orchestration and collect all of the input upfront, you can just let Orchestrator automate and run with it. Setting up a business unit is one example I’ve seen used a couple of times already.

You can also expand this to an enterprise-wide use case by allowing Orchestrator to participate in broader robotic process automation (RPA), like employee, product, asset onboarding processes where maybe you have multiple systems of record in addition to JD Edwards.

Another quick win example would be extending the logic of out-of-the-box apps without going into the design tools. You could add a button to a form that executes an orchestration. One I’ve seen is adding a button to the Address Book, so when you make changes, you call out to an external source to validate it.

On the transformational side, you can utilize IoT to track location, read meters, check status, etc. A common scenario involves using a low code/no code UI to put in a fit-for-purpose user interface over the existing JD Edwards browser-based apps.

Looking forward, digital assistants can also integrate with JD Edwards via Orchestrator.

It’s designed to be future-proof, so you can use it for emerging technology scenarios, and it can be vital to your organization’s AI strategy.

Poll: Another poll asked if audience members if they are using Orchestrator. The options included “Yes,” “No,” “Planning to use,” and “Unsure.” The results of the poll showed that:

  • 50 percent are using Orchestrator
  • 15 percent said they are not using Orchestrator
  • 26 percent said they are planning to use it
  • 9 percent were unsure

Our end users are worried that if we move our instance to the cloud, they will lose control. What are some of the tips around guiding our employees in this situation?

Jon: One of the first things I think of when I hear about “worried users” is a procurement or AP user, or something like that. For users like that, there is no change for them. If they don’t know about things like whether the JD Edwards environment is running in a data center that is private, hosted, or in the cloud, they shouldn’t be concerned. It’s transparent to the end-user at that level.

For the CNCs of the world, you don’t have to deal with the data center anymore, but you should at least understand more about what it means to run JDE in a public cloud, so you can take advantage of some of the benefits that cloud has to offer – elasticity, scalability, etc. It’s still important to do all of the regular maintenance that you’re used to while learning more about what it means to run JDE in the cloud.

We’re considering JD Edwards in the cloud but have concerns about customizations that we have. If we move our environments to the cloud, will we lose all of our customizations?

Bob: No, you don’t lose your customizations. Picture, if you will, your JD Edwards environment, setup, configuration, data, business applications – wherever those are running today – all of that goes across when you move to Oracle Cloud, including customizations. It’s the same JD Edwards applications and tools simply running in a different server.

With that said, we do generally like to ask customers to keep customizations to a minimum and stay code current for a variety of good reasons. However, we understand that there are some customers that may have unique business processes, industry requirements, country requirements, etc. where you may need to customize, so those will all come across to the cloud.

Poll: A third poll question asked listeners, “Are you running JDE in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)?” The options were “Yes,” “No,” “Planning to use,” and “Unsure.” The results of the poll showed that:

  • 11 percent are running JDE in OCI
  • 79 percent are not running JDE in OCI
  • 8 percent are planning to run JDE in OCI
  • 3 percent are unsure

JD Edwards’s market share has been stagnant or declining in the past several years. Would you mind sharing the plan to revive or expand the number of customers using JD Edwards as their ERP system?

Lyle: This doesn’t sound like a question coming from a user. This sounds like it’s coming from a competitor, analyst, or someone who is trying to make money off of the JD Edwards economy, which by the way, I applaud. However, to start off with, I have a particular point of view when it comes to market share and numbers. In the ERP space, “fairly disparate” is what I would say. There are a lot of people who claim to know what market share is. I’ll go to the classic definition of market share, which is the percent of total sales in any market space generated by a particular company. It is calculated by sales over a period divided by total sales in that industry over that same period. My response, therefore, is you have no way of knowing. To state up front that it is stagnant or declining… You have no way of knowing.

JD Edwards has not been a private corporation for over 17 years. We are part of the Oracle Corporation, which is a portfolio corporation. Which, by the way, all of the other ERP vendors that are of any size are also portfolio companies that do not report their earnings per product line. So, there is no way for anyone to really know this, none the less state it with a certain amount of certainty as it was in this question. It’s a bit intellectually dishonest.

The reality is if you define the ERP market space as everything ERP, that’s a pretty large market space that includes a lot of horizontal product. There are a lot of vendors in there that you wouldn’t even consider ERP. So, again, it’s a little messy. I don’t know how you would tell.

To maybe try to answer the question for you, the reality is that we haven’t been planning in a horizontal ERP market space since Y2K. We have made a very prescriptive run at a very defined market bounded by asset-intensive companies. We are continuing to grow our numbers of customers in those spaces. I think we win more often than not – certainly, we don’t win everything. Things are getting more focused as we move into the next fiscal year. We are learning into modern architectures, and we are also leaning on customers for ERP modernization to learn from customers and bring those lessons back into the product. We are not building a lot of new modules to go after other segments of the ERP market. We are trying to consolidate and grow our share within where we define the marketplace. We are also investing in digital technologies, which we believe are the future. We believe that this all creates a recipe for the continued success of the JD Edwards brand in the segment that we are focused on and targeted at.

Recently, JD Edwards introduced new technologies that have the capability to automate processes to help reduce time/cost on repetitive tasks. What’s on the roadmap to improve the next generation with AI, intelligent process automation, predictive forecasting, etc.?

Gary: In general, this category of process automation and making processes more intelligent has huge value. From what we see from both customers and vendors, there is a lot of work to do to put it into practice. We saw one customer that had a backlog of 50+ processes that could be automated with Orchestrator, for example.

AI is only as good as the data you feed it. The way AI works is that it’s pattern-matching, to put it simply, so you need a lot of data to feed it. The good news is that JD Edwards is a great data source. You have years of data about your financials, products, manufacturing operations, assets, etc. that you can leverage.

With AI, there are things you can do today, and there are many more to come because it is an emerging, developing technology. Today, Oracle has a broad set of AI offerings – everything from platform items like Autonomous Database or Autonomous Linux, and AI use cases built into applications with very specific out-of-the-box use cases. I encourage you to Google “Oracle AI” to learn more about what we’re doing as it matures.

Another area with AI that we are excited about is digital assistants. You can also leverage Orchestrator today to leverage automation in your JD Edwards system.

After reading the most recent JD Edwards roadmap (April 2020), I had a question about Development Client Simplification. Which changes are being planned for the local development environments?

Paul: As part of our simplify and automate roadmap, we took a look at the Dev Client, and as you all know – being JD Edwards customers and partners, there are a lot of areas of the Dev Client that could be simplified. We decided to tackle what would give us the most bang for our buck, which is why we’re looking at removing the local database and going to a central repository. So, if you attended our session “Injecting Imagination into JDE System Administration” earlier this week, you know that Clayton Seeley and I talked about some of the benefits that this is going to bring. Those included streamlining OMW activities, simplifying some of the build and deploy exercise, as well as reducing install times to roughly five minutes. Having developed for 20+ hours on this product, I’ve lost many, many hours waiting on those installs to finish. So, to hear that they are down to five minutes get me excited as well.

In addition to that, by eliminating the database, we also reduced our footprint. Each Dev Client right now takes up roughly 13 GB of disc space and 2 GB of RAM. When you multiply that across the number of all of the developer workstations you have, you can imagine how that can really add up to a significant savings. We’re really excited about that.

Even more impactful is the flexibility that this is going to give developers. Your changes become portables, and you can begin looking at how to do more project sharing. For us, what this opens the door to is potentially developing on the glass down the road. We’re very excited about having progressed this forward and coming to market without a database in our Dev Client.

Could you talk more about mobile, the mobile strategy, elaborating on your position regarding current mobile applications, plans for future development, support, etc.?

Bob: Let’s back up a little bit and look at where we’ve been historically and then we can look at where we’re headed. Customers who have been working with us for years know that we’ve had multiple iterations with different technologies over the years where we’ve delivered mobile applications. Most recently, starting back on Release 9.1, we had approximately 90 pre-built mobile applications out in the market that were built using an Oracle tool called Mobile Application Framework (MAF).

We know that as soon as we deliver something out of the box, the first thing customers want to do is change it so it’s fit-for-purpose for their unique business, users, and processes. Changing applications with the MAF toolset was a bit challenging because you had to be good with the technical developer skillsets. It was not a tool typically used by business analysts.

The good news is that technology has moved forward over the last several years. Now there are no code or very low code products on the market that allow business analysts to design the user interface (UI) and the application for a mobile app. Within Oracle, an Oracle tool that we use is called Visual Builder Cloud Service (VBCS), but there are many other products on the market like VBCS that allow customers to easily and quickly build a mobile application that is exactly what they want and that fits their particular business needs.

Now, how do you hook that up to JD Edwards’ business logic? That’s what Gary talked about earlier with the use of Orchestrator. You build the UI for the mobile app, and then use the Orchestrator to call the back-end business application. It’s very easy, very quick for customers to build their own mobile apps. This “build your own” mentality is the direction we’re headed in now for our future strategy.

You might be asking what we’re going to do with the 90 mobile applications that we already have today. About every year in the fall, Apple iOS and Android come out with a new operating system. Our plan right now is not to support the existing mobile applications once those new operating systems come out this fall. So, we’re not going to uplift what we have today. We will keep supporting what we have today, and eventually, we will remove them from the Apple Store and Android Store because they won’t be on their latest operating systems. However, we will still have those mobile applications out there in what we call our Mobile Application Archives. You can get to it on the Download Center, bring it down, and build mobile applications with the archive files. If you have defects, you can still report those.

While we will continue to support existing applications, we really encourage our customers to adopt modern technology with build-your-own applications and Orchestrator on the back-end to call business logic.

JDE 9.2 is the last version of EnterpriseOne to be produced. Why have an end of support date? Can you talk about the constant upgrades to push fixes and new functionality?

Lyle: Oracle has a lifetime support policy for all of our Apps Unlimited products, including JD Edwards. We modified the policy model in the past several years to include what we call Continuous Innovation Releases. For EnterpriseOne, 9.2 became our Continuous Innovation Release, where we do innovation to it incrementally over time and don’t force you to upgrade in order to get new capabilities. We have laid out a support timeline that is now extended to 2031, and we redo that extension annually. That is to say that we also review all of our build plans all the time.

Nobody has ever said that 9.2 is the last version, nor has anyone ever said that it’s the last release. Oracle retains the right to declare new things all the time. All we’ve said is that 9.2 is our Continuous Innovation Release and that it’s supported through at least 2031, and we will review that on an annual basis. That’s where we are today, and we think that is a good policy and approach for the marketplace that we go after.

Unnaturally forcing customers through big bang upgrade cycles is something that I committed to getting rid of for this install base almost a decade ago, and now we’re there. We should continue to applaud and move forward with a good thing. As the marketplace changes, of course, we will announce them to you. For now, 9.2 is our release in the marketplace, and we’re putting all of our effort around 9.2.

What cloud platforms will JD Edwards run on? How do Google Cloud Platform and AWS compare to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)?

Jon: JD Edwards will run on AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and obviously on OCI. What I always tell customers is that I have a tenancy in my support organization in OCI, and development has tenancies in OCI, so anything that we build specifically for JD Edwards and certified with JD Edwards is in OCI.

So, if a customer calls my team, for example, and says they are having issues with JD Edwards in AWS, I’m kind of at a loss as far as helping with any AWS issues. I do not have a way of testing any issues you may encounter in AWS or any of the other various clouds.

Gary: To reiterate what Jon said, we certify to underlying technologies – Linux, Windows, Oracle Database, SQL Server, IBM iSeries, etc. When you’re looking at where you want to deploy – on-premise or on the cloud – make sure that the components that are offered there are certified. We test in OCI, but not in the other various cloud platforms.

We’ve seen situations where incorrect domains were used, or storage types, etc. that create issues. We would be able to resolve those from an OCI perspective. That’s a value-add of running on OCI. It’s a fast platform, and it stands out head-to-head with others from a performance perspective.

Lyle: Coming from one vendor is always a value-add for customers. If your approach is to pull together disparate vendors to build your solution, then at the end of the day, you and your partners own that. The Oracle JD Edwards is not going to build out the perfect cloud environment that meets everyone’s mixed-mode environments.

Beyond the one vendor being an advantage, we’re moving all of our development to OCI. That is our reference platform that we build on. I think there’s value in that.

Paul: It goes back to that relationship of working with the OCI guys in-house over the years. We have our contacts, and our ability to troubleshoot, collaborate, and get to the bottom of issues is much greater when we’re working on OCI instead of some of these other clouds. We don’t have AWS stood up in-house where we can go troubleshoot and try to figure out how to optimize. That’s just the reality of the situation.

Gary: The other thing is the automation that we provide. In OCI, we published a reference architecture that includes some complicated things like disaster recovery, high availability, scalability, and elasticity. We can do that uniquely in the Oracle Cloud, partly because of that relationship that Paul mentioned.

Lyle: And that’s not to say that you can’t do those things with those other cloud vendors, but again, you own that. That’s your investment, and that’s on you to figure out.

A lot of customers would find real value in a Reverse Ship Confirm feature. Will you commit today to make this enhancement in JD Edwards?

Bob: Safe Harbor applies, so no commitment! But it is a great question. Actually, this is something we had a focus group of customers work on. If you do a ship confirm on the wrong line, there is no easy Undo or Reverse button that lets you back out of that mistake. Part of it is if you think about when you’re doing a Shipment Confirmation, no only are updating sales order lines, but you are also updating inventory statuses, inventory lines, and so forth. Where it starts to get complex is where you’re now using more than just base inventory – Warehouse Management, Transportation Management, etc. When you’re using more functionality and backing up more files, it’s more complicated to reverse it. You almost just have to take that Shipment Confirmation transaction, encapsulate that and everything involved with it, and lock it in a bubble. That’s why it’s not as simple as just doing a simple Reverse button.

We have been looking at if we have a use case that doesn’t involve Warehouse Management or Transportation Management – if it’s just Sales and Inventory – would that be sufficient enough for a majority of customers to support that one use case?

What I will tell people is that it’s something we continue to study and evaluate, but at this time, we are not ready to make a commitment because of the complications and sophistication that comes with reversing a Shipment Confirmation.

Lyle: I’ll add to that. It is not our policy to commit to specific development in a specific timeframe. It’s part of our revenue recognition rules that software companies are put under. That’s why we have that Safe Harbor Statement. I know we gloss over it from time to time or joke about it, but it’s actually pretty serious business. Just like revenue recognition for each of your businesses is pretty serious. We don’t take light of it. We build roadmaps, but even roadmaps are not a commitment to deliver. Read the Safe Harbor Statement. I understand that it can put pressure on you all, but please understand that we have a set of rules that we have to follow as well.

Paul: We tend to champion Orchestrator quite a bit, and this might be another area where if you have a manual process in-house, where you’ve figured out how to do manual Reverse Ship Confirm step-by-step on your own, that might be an opportunity to explore Orchestrator and figure out how to string that together and use Extensibility to make it a button click based on your specific business process. Like Bob was saying, we have many scenarios that we have to cover and consider that make this extremely complex for us, so if we can isolate a use case that makes sense, that’s what we’re looking at doing. But in your particular case, you know your business process and what’s involved. Perhaps using Orchestrator to make your life a little easier in the interim versus waiting on us is a good opportunity.

Our company has been on JD Edwards for 16 years, but recently, there has been a lot of third-party software purchased for use outside of JDE. Does Oracle JDE have a marketing group to keep current customers increasing their usage of JDE versus opting for a third-party solution?

Lyle: Yes, but you have to do your part. You have to keep up with what we’re doing because we can only do so much. LearnJDE is a great source for getting information about what we’re developing, building, and delivering. Quest has also always been a phenomenal source for that. There is also something referred to as a sales organization, and if you don’t know who your Apps Unlimited sales representative is, you can certainly contact me and my organization, and we will put you in contact with that individual to come walk you through it.

JD Edwards can do a lot of the things that you mentioned in your question – payroll, timekeeping, safety, environmental, expense reporting, etc.

You need to let people know, “Hey, JD Edwards is our ERP backbone, and before we go out and look at anything else, we ought to look at JDE first for what we need.” If JDE doesn’t have it, then go pursue third-parties. That’s an internal process that will need to be enforced. We can only take the ball so far down the field.

Gary: I do think contacting the sales organization is a great path. In the lower-left corner on LearnJDE, you’ll see a Contact Us area with multiple ways to do so. Stay in touch! It’s the best idea to look at something pre-integrated. The simplicity for IT is a key strategy for a lot of our customers.

Poll: All this talk about LearnJDE was the perfect segway for the last poll in the presentation – “How do you get your JD Edwards information?” The options were LearnJDE, social media, My Oracle Support (MOS), a trusted partner, or other. The single-select poll results showed that:

  • 18 percent chose LearnJDE
  • 7 percent chose social media
  • 55 percent chose My Oracle Support
  • 14 percent chose a trusted partner
  • 7 percent chose “other”

There is undoubtedly crossover between these areas, but for the sake of this poll, the options were single-select.

Lyle: The best source of information is from Oracle itself or trusted partners that work directly with Oracle. Sometimes customers go to sources that are not “tied to the mothership,” which can lead to a lot of misinformation.

My Oracle Support is a great resource, especially for details on how to run your product on a day-to-day basis. If you’re looking for what’s coming, what is Oracle’s position, and other marketing-type information, LearnJDE is a much better resource for that. Trusted partners are great, but sometimes you just need to go straight to the manufacturer.

Jon: The My Oracle Support team and LearnJDE team are often cross-pollinating content. LearnJDE is a great place to start that could lead you to a deep dive in My Oracle Support.

There is some reference in the client success stories regarding baseline ESUs, but we’ve heard a rumor that baseline ESUs have or will be eliminated in JDE 9.2. Any truth to that?

Paul: As you know, baselines are the result of dependencies that have built up through all of our fixes and enhancements that we deliver over the years. We’ve had a fairly aggressive baseline strategy over the last five years because those baselines can serve as stepping stones for folks when they need fixes that were delivered way back without having the necessary fast forward to staying current.  However, when you adopt a more Continuous Adoption strategy and stay more current, those baselines won’t be nearly as impactful.

I can’t say that our baselines are going to be eliminated, but I will say that their impact on you and your business decreases significantly as you adopt a Continuous Adoption approach and stay current.

Will Orchestrator replace VSSV finally?

Gary: Not in the short term. A lot of customers use VSSVs. If you’re going to do something new, use Orchestrator. But we do have a lot of customers relying on VSSVs, so we’re not going to retire those.

We’re on JDE 9.0. Is there a game-changer in 9.2?

Bob: I don’t know your specific industry, so I’m going to hit this horizontally. You have Orchestrator, as Gary talked about, for integrations, process automation, notifications. We’ve enabled personalization and extensibility to remove modifications and allow people to have the UI work in the way that they need it to. We’ve also put in capability with things like UX One pages and analytics. We’ve added functionality around simplifying and automating through running JDE on OCI. Security enhancements and patches are something that we continue to apply to stay current. Localizations. Changes in applications based on customer-requested enhancements. Regulatory capabilities like Lease Management. The list goes on.

Lyle: Go to the Product Catalog. You’ll get thousands of pages of new capabilities available in 9.2.

Is 9.2 OCI a SaaS (Software as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) solution?

Jon: The answer is actually IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) with some PaaS components. It is not a SaaS solution. The Oracle SaaS solutions are NetSuite and Fusion.

With GDPR and other similar data privacy laws, is JDE considering implementing DB encryption functionality for sensitive data fields?

Gary: We have it. You can do it at the database level with Transparent Data Encryption or at the field level. Look at the JD Edwards Security Administration Guide for more.

To learn more, check out the Ask Me Anything session and additional resources attached below.

Additional Resources

It’s all new, all digital this year for INFOCUS 20! Dive deep into JD Edwards learning, chat with the experts, connect with other users, and meet the solutions providers. Join us online from October 19-22, 2020, and be sure to register before October 5 to take advantage of Early Bird pricing!