Although we’ve already sent someone down to California to witness the launch of a combined Oracle and PeopleSoft, those who can’t make the trip have been invited to log onto a special Webcast. In the invitation we received, it was noted that there would be a listen-only Q&A with Larry Ellison.

Just

the way Larry Ellison likes it.

Actually, that’s not true. Ellison is almost alone among the high-profile chief executives who will gladly take questions — whether it’s from a Fortune 500 CIO or the most lowly DBA — after his keynote speeches. This launch, however, promises few major surprises, given that Oracle has very clearly outlined its major integration plans over the course of its 18-month hostile acquisition battle. It’s about the products and the people. Generally speaking, the people usually get the short end of the stick.

So far Oracle won’t get specific about who within PeopleSoft’s Canadian division will get the notorious pink-slip-by-mail treatment. Usually the cutting tends to come from the very top and the very bottom, perhaps because the seniorexecutives have too much ego to start playing by someone else’s rules, and because the admin staff represent the largest area of overlap between two firms. The middle management layer is where you still have the ambitious careerists who know enough about the former regime to be valuable yet are malleable enough to adapt to a new vision. This is even more true for regional operations. If I were PeopleSoft Canada general manager Andy Aicklen, for example, I doubt I’d stick around unless there was a chance of moving up within Oracle’s U.S. Why become a smaller fish in the same pond?

If Oracle is looking at keeping anyone at PeopleSoft, it should be Rick Bergquist, the CTO. He’s just outspoken enough to get Ellison’s respect while having an in-depth knowledge of the firm over the last 14 years. Bergquist was also instrumental in helping to integrate the technology from J.D. Edwards intoPeopleSoft, and as anyone who’s gone through a merger knows, it will take yearsto evaluate whether that effort was successful. More than anything, Oracle willneed people who can make the transition from JDE and PeopleSoft products to theOracle platform (and that’s what’s happening here — don’t kid yourself)as painless as possible. Bergquist could do that, so long as he could be convinced he wasn’t going to be basically throwing away the roadmap he has beencommitted to for the last two years.

It’s hard to satisfy expectations at this kind of an event, and the only one who has done it well – indeed, the only one who’s had to do it to the same extent— was HP after its merger with Compaq. The senior executives of those firms promised that on day one, we would all know what products would be kept, what would be lost, and what the organizational structure of the company would look like. They delivered, and it was enough to earn HP a grace period that allowed the real integration to begin.

A launch like this is designed to reassure the market, but given the motivation behind this merger — to eliminate a competitor — canned testimony from a few former PeopleSoft users won’t cut it. Instead, I’d love to see a real skeptic among the PeopleSoft installed base to be invited to the stage, where he or she could hash out their biggest concerns with Ellison and whoever else is fit to address them. Not that my opinion matters, of course. I already know that Larry Ellison won’t be listening to me.

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