Thuraya throws out Oracle software suite

Satellite telecommunications firm Thuraya has switched from using Oracle Financials software to Microsoft’s Great Plains ERP suite, claiming the solution better suits its budget and needs.

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By  Peter Branton Published  February 20, 2005

Satellite telecommunications firm Thuraya has switched from using Oracle Financials software to Microsoft’s Great Plains ERP suite, claiming the solution better suits its budget and needs. The 12-month-long project will see Thuraya implement Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains 8.0 ERP suite, replacing a patchwork of systems the firm was using, including various modules of Oracle Financials and inventory control software from Vertscape, among other packages. “We had reached a point where we had to upgrade everything,” said Sultan Ahmed Al Ghafli, executive manager of the support services division, Thuraya. “The options were either to look at Oracle or other vendors with a similar solution, but we had constraints with our budget and time, as well as our needs,” he said. The issue was not one of cost alone, Ghafli said but that “this will give us a faster return on our investment than other solutions. Usability is important; if you implement a system and don’t use all the functionality, you lose value,” he claimed. Thuraya spent six months evaluating packages before selecting the Microsoft solution, although its executives declined to comment on whether Oracle had attempted to persuade them to stay with the platform. “We negotiated with everybody and selected Microsoft,” said Sayed Mohammad Sharaf, executive manager, finance, Thuraya. He declined to disclose the financial value of the deal. For Microsoft the value is not money alone: the vendor is looking for high-profile wins in the region’s ERP market. “What is special about this deal is that we’re hoping to use it to demonstrate our ability to deliver a complex ERP solution at this level,” said Zaid Abunuwar, enterprise group director for Microsoft South Gulf. For Thuraya, the user-friendliness of the solution and the fact that Microsoft is working as a contractor on the deal were also big factors in its decision, Ghafli said. “When you get down to it, this will be their development and we’re counting on them to deliver zero defects,” he added. There will be up to 15 staff from Thuraya working on the project, Ghafli estimated, with Microsoft’s partner MDS supplying another seven, all working under a Microsoft project manager. Thuraya is currently confirming its business requirements, readying itself for business blueprint planning, which will be followed by actual development. The project’s completion is expected by the end of this year. Microsoft has been taking on Oracle in the ERP market in the region, with a campaign to win former PeopleSoft users. “Microsoft can only claim this as a success story if and when the application successfully goes live at Thuraya,” said Ayman Abouseif, senior marketing director, Oracle Middle East. He pointed out that Jordan’s Fastlink has just completed a migration from Great Plains to Oracle E-Busines Suite.

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