Eyeing the Market

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-06-14 Print this article Print

IBM, Microsoft and Siebel may be planning to enter the Big Threes market. According to news reports, a consultant testified that Microsoft, IBM and Siebel are on track to enter the human resources and financial software markets. "Its pretty clear theyre coming," said Perry Keating, senior vice president at the consultancy BearingPoint, according to an article by Reuters. IBM is on record as having said the company has no such plans, and Microsoft of course categorically denies its interest.
As eWEEKs Renee Boucher Ferguson writes in her analysis of the news, the testimony may seem to undermine the DOJs assertion that there are only three players in that sphere, but that depends on the timing of the entrants.
As Ferguson notes, the vendors would have to enter the market within the next two years in order to impact competition, according to antitrust guidelines. Why J.D. Edwards couldnt compete. As former J.D. Edwards chief financial officer Richard Allen testified, the company spent nearly $1 billion and close to a decade trying to make its software suitable for big buyers. Of course, the two sides put entirely different spins on this, with the DOJ contending that J.D. Edwards experience shows how difficult it is to enter this space, and Oracles attorney charging that it was merely post-Y2K spending doldrums that hampered J.D. Edwards success. Users and analysts concur that J.D. Edwards failed to make the leap to big businesses. Forrester analyst Paul Hamerman told me that J.D. Edwards resulting product, OneWorld—a product thats now under PeopleSoft auspices as EnterpriseOne—does indeed lack scalability and has gaps from a functional standpoint, particularly in HR and financial applications. For example, the HR application lacks a recruitment component—an "essential part" of an HR product for enterprises whose businesses span the globe, Hamerman noted. Why didnt J.D. Edwards manage to beef up that software? Don Abens, senior J.D. Edwards business analyst at Emerson Process Management and president of the Central Texas J.D. Edwards User Group, told me that both the DOJ and Oracle are right in their take on that issue. But Abens brought up a third cause that neither side addressed: Namely, J.D. Edwards put technical limitations on itself by trying to make both big enterprises and its existing midmarket customers happy with the same product. "What most other companies did when they went to client-server [architecture] was they threw away the old [code] and wrote a whole new system," Abens said. "JDE wrote a new front end and maintained the old, so you could migrate and co-exist. That put a lot of limitations on what they could do. It was great, and the entire customer base loves them for it, but it did limit their growth in the high end." Next page: The markets voting for an Oracle win.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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