Ellison: This is what PeopleSoft looks like now

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Oracle CEO Larry Ellison began a campaign here Tuesday to assure PeopleSoft customers that the money they’ve sunk into their applications hasn’t disappeared with his company’s purchase of PeopleSoft.

“We’re

going to preserve your investment in J.D.Edwards products, in PeopleSoft products and in Oracle products” to 2013, Ellison told customers and industry analysts here.

He promised the company will continue to develop J.D. Edwards World 8.11 to version 8.12, finish developing PeopleSoft Enterprise 8.9 and complete version 9.0 and develop a new release of Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS).

In addition the company will create a successor product to EBS with a merged feature set from all three applications.

“We can do both,” he maintained. “We have the wherewithal to develop all three lines while developing a successor merged product.”

“We’ll have a graceful upgrade to Project Fusion at some point in the future,” he promised. Nor will there be any pressure from Oracle on customers migrate to the new suite. “You pick the time when it’s convenient to upgrade,” he said.

The switch will be “an automated upgrade” from any current PeopleSoft and JDE product that will carry over all their data, he said, “not a conversion” to a new application.

He also dismissed concerns that Oracle will pressure PeopleSoft and JDE customers to move from other companies’ databases to Oracle. While Oracle will welcome companies switching, “we’re not going to nudge you to do that.” Support for IBM, BEA and Microsoft products on PeopleSoft and JDE platforms will continue until 2013, he said. Specifically, PeopleSoft and JDE upgrades set for this year will continue as scheduled.

In 2006 PeopleSoft 9.0, JDE Enterprise One 8.12 and Oracle EBS 12 will be released. Support for JDE XE and 8.0 will be extended until February, 2007.

The first elements of Fusion technology will be made available in 2006 in data hubs and transaction bases, with individual applications out the following year. The full Fusion suite is expected to be released in 2008.

Fusion will be a Java-based product which will take advantage of Internet technologies,” he said, a leap over industry-leader SAP.

“SAP had their chance over the last 18 months,” said Ellison.

Asked if he’s asking PeopleSoft/JDE customers to “stay frozen” until Fusion is finished, Ellison disagreed. “We’re not asking anyone to stay frozen,” he said, emphasizing that PeopleSoft and JDE upgrades will continue. But at a time of their choosing they will move to the new suite.

He noted that Oracle has made job offers to 90 per cent of PeopleSoft’s support and product development staff.

The company is boasting that there are now 6,000 people worldwide dedicated to support around the world, including centres in Vancouver and Toronto. One industry analyst interviewed is impressed that John Wookey, Oracle’s senior vice-president of applications development, now has full responsibility over that area.

Paul Hamerman of Forrester Research said it’s a sign the company is serious about boosting the importance of its applications work to at least the level of its database.

“Applications have been a sideline for Oracle,” he said, noting that historically applications have accounted for only 20 per cent of the company’s business. But having spent US$10 billion on PeopleSoft, shareholders will be expecting some return.

Wookey’s promotion “will be key for Oracle to step forward in applications,” said Hamerman.

As a signal to the new employees, Jesper Anderson, formerly PeopleSoft senior vice-president, has been selected to lead Oracle’s new applications strategy team to develop product and business strategy. Oracle’s Cliff Godwin will head the Project Fusion team.

According to a release put out Tuesday, AMR Research believes the combined Oracle-PeopleSoft would have had applications revenues in 2004 of $5.5 billion, making it the second largest applications vendor behind SAP with 12 per cent of the worldwide enterprise applications market.

“Whether Oracle can continue to cut into SAP’s share will depend entirely on the successful integration of the two companies,” said Bruce Richardson, AMR’s senior vice-president of research.

But he also noted Tuesday’s speeches from Oracle executives were missing details on pricing for maintenance and support of PeopleSoft and JDE products. “The nitty-gritty stuff still remains to be answered,” he said in an interview. “Those are going to be answered one-on-one with customers.’ He also wondered how realistic the 2008 date is for Fusion. Industry analysts here also expect SAP make an announcement Thursday to steal some attention away from Tuesday’s Oracle event.

PeopleSoft consultants and integrators have been anxiously waiting since the Oracle acquisition was struck in December for product roadmap details to reassure customers.

Migration is usually not a word they want to hear, acknowledged Gary Shafran, senior vice-president and co-owner of Syntax.net, a Montreal-based VAR with a PeopleSoft practice, in an earlier interview.

“If the migration truly becomes like an upgrade, then it’s not a big deal. If it’s effectively switching software and a complete re-install and complete retraining of the organization, then it’s certainly a concern” to customers.

“If the products migrate towards each other in successive releases then the transition isn’t so shocking.”

The 18-month-long battle for PeopleSoft took a toll, Shafran said. “I believe there were probably RFPs we didn’t receive because customers were uncertain about the PeopleSoft future.”

Oracle is hoping Tuesday’s announcements will make PeopleSoft products attractive to customers for at least a few years.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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