A Toronto integrator doesn’t think much of Microsoft’s offer to lure PeopleSoft customers to its business solutions.

“It’ll be a tough sell,” said Ben Exeter, vice-president of services at Exeter Software Group of Toronto, which implements and customizes PeopleSoft applications.

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is already trying to snag customers using J.D. Edwards, which PeopleSoft bought 18 months ago, he noted.

Given the size of the German-based company — considered by most industry analysts to be the leading enterprise software company — and “being aggressive as they are, they stand a better chance than Microsoft” of getting defectors, said Exeter.

The move by Microsoft comes as Oracle is set to hold an event Jan. 18 touting its US$10 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft with customers, industry analysts and the media at its California headquarters.

While Oracle has said it will continue to support PeopleSoft’s Enterprise 8 application until 2013, and to a lesser extent PeopleSoft World (formerly JDE World), partners have been waiting for details of its channel plans.

As with almost all mergers, layoffs are expected. Partners want to know how deep the cuts will be — if at all — in the PeopleSoft channel organization, their ability to sell Oracle products, and the product roadmap.

So far, other than press releases, his company has had no communications from Oracle executives, Exeter said.

“It’s expected,” he shrugged.

Trying to steal some thunder, Microsoft announced this week that for the next six months it is offering PeopleSoft customers a discount on software licences equal to the cost of two years maintenance support if they sign up for any of its Business Solutions portfolio. They include Great Plains, Axapta, Navision or Solomon products.

According to Nancy Teixeira, enterprise resource product manager for Microsoft Canada, the discount is worth between 32 and 36 per cent off the cost of buying licences.

Admitting that there are migration and training costs to switching applications, she said Microsoft can argue it offers savings in cost of ownership, hardware and application customization.

She’s hoping to draw at least 10 defectors, as well as some PeopleSoft partners.

“We feel there’s a big opportunity to introduce an option of Microsoft Business Solutions to a group of customers in the coming months who will be evaluating a number of options,” she said.

“We’re working proactively to recruit competitive (PeopleSoft) partners,” she added.

Oracle dismissed off the move. “Our focus continues to be on providing quality and value to our customers,” company spokesman Bob Wynne said in a written statement. “Beyond that, it is our practice not to comment on other companies.”

But the head of a Microsoft partners group believes PeopleSoft customers will be tempted by its bid to lure them away.

“I think PeopleSoft customers will be enticed,” said Reginald Howatson, business development director of NexxLink Technologies Inc. and president of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners. The Montreal-based company is a Navision reseller.

Last year Microsoft had a successful campaign to lure Accpac customers to its applications, he said.

Exeter Software’s had been a JDE services partner since 1993 and an authorized reseller 10 years later, just months before PeopleSoft announced it had come to an agreement to buy JDE. Within days Oracle announced a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.

Now that it has been finalized, Exeter doesn’t think much of the new owner.

“Oracle doesn’t have a program for a company of our size,” he said.

Asked what he wants to hear next week, he replied, “I hope they’ll maintain the PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards program and embrace the business partners in some capacity.”

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