Oracle rivals begin hunt for PeopleSoft/JDE users

The launch of a combined Oracle and PeopleSoft organization this week has unleashed efforts by competitors big and small to steal enterprise customers who don’t believe Larry Ellison’s promises.

Oracle has

said it will continue to develop products from J.D. Edwards, which was purchased by PeopleSoft in 2003, while finishing developing PeopleSoft Enterprise 8.9 and completing version 9.0. Ellison also said Oracle will develop a new release of Oracle E-Business Suite that integrates functionality from all three firms.

SAP on Wednesday tried to counter that announcement by making a high-profile offer to joint customers within the PeopleSoft and former J.D. Edwards installed base to maintain and support their existing software investments. The program, called Safe Passage, would also provide a migration path to SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, including its NetWeaver set of integration tools.

In a teleconference call to launch Safe Passage, SAP America Inc. president and CEO Bill McDermott said the program would offer PeopleSoft or JDE users better integration and a more open platform than Oracle could provide. As a complement to the offer, SAP said it had acquired TomorrowNow, a third-party support provider of enterprise maintenance and support for customers of PeopleSoft and JDE based in Bryan, Tex.

“”Oracle’s acquisition is forcing customers to be very uncertain. We feel we have a responsibility to remain the industry’s trusted advisor,”” McDermott said. “”Our customers are telling us they don’t want to go on any forced marches.””

While AMR Research estimated that the combination of Oracle and PeopleSoft would create a US$5.5 billion applications business, that still puts it in second place behind SAP. That’s one of the reasons IT consulting giant Accenture is trying to recruit dozens of new employees to work on SAP projects in Canada.

Bill Morris, country managing director for Accenture in Canada based in Montreal, said Safe Passage could present an attractive alternative for companies that want to gain competitiveness, particularly those with global operations.

“”The prospects for SAP are quite strong,”” he said. “”I could deploy 50 people today if I could find them.””

While there may be some organizations that completely abandon their PeopleSoft and JDE investments, other firms are hoping customers will pick and choose areas to migrate. Authoria, for example, which provides human capital management software from its headquarters in Waltham, Mass., is encouraging organizations to consider non-core applications such as compensation and coaching, to test the waters.

“”We’re not talking about migrating what you absolutely need to manage your organization,”” said Todd Chambers, Authoria’s vice-president of marketing. “”Oftentimes the big ERPs provide solutions that are maybe not keeping on the leading edge of technology. Our suite brings together better solutions that can work interconnectedly with the ERP applications.””

Authoria, which counts BMO, Scotiabank and Sun Life among its Canadian customers, said Oracle’s hostile acquisition of PeopleSoft has added another layer of frustration for PeopleSoft users who were already concerned about upgrade costs.

“”SAP’s got to be just chomping at the bit to get access to this space,”” he said. “”A lot of (users) have questionable feelings about Oracle for any number of reasons, potentially.””

Lawson Software, which Oracle at one point said it considered acquiring as well, launched a migration campaign of its own specific to the J.D. Edwards OneWorld installed base. Terry Plath, Lawson’s market development director, said this is the “”most vulnerable”” segment of the industry following the business software space’s mass consolidation.

“”We are hearing rumblings from lots of different areas,”” he said. “”Some that left PeopleSoft as well as those who are still on PeopleSoft support aren’t necessarily convinced the promises made yesterday are going to play out.””

Lawson is pursuing approximately 1,000 of the estimated 3,000 large enterprise OneWorld customers, Plath said. Its migration program guarantees support for PeopleSoft/JDE customers running on the IBM iSeries platform, and will include consulting services from a third party, Ciber.

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