PeopleSoft touts total ownership experience

LAS VEGAS — Look out IT managers: PeopleSoft says it wants to simplify the user experience around software installations, integration and upgrades.

PeopleSoft Inc. CEO Craig Conway said Tuesday his vision is to make enterprise

software as user-friendly as PC applications have become in the last decade. The company has dedicated 500 developers to “”dramatically improve the ownership experience.””

Conway was introduced the concept of the total ownership experience during his keynote address to about 2,500 senior executives attending PeopleSoft’s Leadership Summit here in Las Vegas this week.

The 500 developers will work on tasks that address all aspects of application lifecycle and currently require significant IT resources. Pointing to how personal computers no longer require specialized technical knowledge to do things like software installations, Conway said that improving the ease of use of enterprise software will mean greater investment for the industry in the long run.

“”When printers were produced with USB port capability those companies sold more printers. Ease of use acts as a catalyst to deploy new technology,”” he said. “”This was a tough year and as we tried to get customers to spend the answer was ‘my budget is all tied up.’ Our hope is the cost of integration goes away, freeing up money to do other things.””

Conway claims multi-vendor plug-and-play integration with competitors will become something ready to go out of the box.

“”This is the end of middleware. The burden of enterprise application integration should be on the enterprise software companies, not you,”” he said.

Developers at the company will be focused on creating tools that will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete software installations, says Ram Gupta, executive vice-president of products and technology for PeopleSoft.

“”Installations today take too long,”” Gupta said. “”The goal is to dramatically reduce the time to install. Ever wonder why IT people and not business users are doing installs? Because to date it has been too complicated. Our goal is to have a configuration process driven by the business user not the IT user.””

That’s something that should appeal to users such as William Gibson, director of human resources with the Toronto Police Service Although the force had a PeopleSoft HR application for years, it wasn’t be leveraged to the degree Gibson thought it could be. After years of hearing from the IT department what he could or could not do with his HR management software, Gibson said he took back control of the system.

“”IT was telling me what I could and couldn’t do with it,”” he said.

Gupta says the total ownership experience will change the way IT shops operate and how users like Gibson put applications into play.

“”Our fundamental goal is to reduce those people-intensive processes. We will connect directly to Oracle and SAP so IT people won’t have to spend months doing it,”” he said.

The company will also pre-build configuration templates that will take weeks, not months to become operational. It will also embed diagnostic probes into applications, capturing the “”vital signs”” and identifying potential solutions.

While studies show one third of IT operating budgets go to integration, Conway said he believes it is closer to 50 per cent. That, says Gupta, is because the large ERP vendors “”still believe the cold war is on.””

“”Out of the box we will ship a number of business processes directly integrated with Oracle and SAP. Imagine a world where PeopleSoft, SAP and Oracle automatically integrate. I’m getting misty-eyed thinking about it,”” he said.

The ERP vendor also announced today it will support the open-source Linux operating system on all of its almost 200 applications. Teaming up with IBM, PeopleSoft will offer its applications for Linux environments running on IBM eServer xSeries, DB2 Universal Database and WebSphere Application server. Referring to the tough economic times, Conway said there are times when opportunities arise when technology can answer the call of businesses looking to cut costs.

“”The biggest dependency now is on the Microsoft platform. Microsoft is determined to continue that dependency with .Net — which is a strategy, not a product. It is meant to convince you to use Microsoft developer tools, middleware and database. The answer to the death grip Microsoft has on the industry is an alternative and Linux will break the dependency on Microsoft,”” said Conway. “”That’s not so says we’re anti-Microsoft, we’re pro-choice.””

The company will deliver Linux to its customers in Q4 of this year.

Other announcements included plans to establish a global implementation, development and support facility in Bangalore, India.

The leadership conference continues here Wednesday.

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