Customers say that the $1 billion deal with IBM and PeopleSoft's aggressive product enhancement plans give them confidence the company can stay focused on its product strategy even as it fights Oracle's buyout bid.
SAN FRANCISCOWhile still uneasy about the ultimate outcome of the Oracle Corp buyout bid PeopleSoft Inc. customers said Tuesday they were encouraged that the company was aggressively pursuing its own product strategy and had formed an important new technology alliance with IBM.
The upbeat keynote address by PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway was especially well received by former J.D. Edwards customers who said it was clear that PeopleSoft was committed to providing continued support for their products regardless of the twists and turns of Oracles buyout effort.
"Im feeling better after hearing him speak than I did before" coming to PeopleSofts Connect 2004 user conference here, said Alan Vannice, application manager for Adams County, Colo. in Brighton, Colo.
"I dont know what the eventual outcome of the Oracle bid will be, "Vannice said. But Conways keynote address "set my mind at ease that he is going to fight it as hard as he can," he said. Adams County is a long-time user of J.D. Edwards enterprise resource planning products.
Vannice said he was very concerned about the future of the countys J.D. Edwards applications when PeopleSoft announced it was buying the company in June 2003. However, PeopleSoft has shown that it intends to provide long-term support and an upgrade path for the J.D Edwards products and the keynote reinforced that feeling, he said. "Right now Im a happy PeopleSoft customer.
The news that PeopleSoft and IBM are will jointly spend up to $1 billion to integrate PeopleSofts ERP applications with IBMs WebSphere middleware platform was particularly encouraging to Michael Osmonde, an IT systems analyst with Crane and Co. Inc., a Dalton, Mass., manufacturer of high-grade paper for stationary and United States currency.
"This sounds like a pretty promising development," Osmonde said. "It seems like there is a natural synergy between these companies in terms of what they can offer now and in the future," he said.
Click here to read the details about the joint product integration agreement between IBM and PeopleSoft.
Osmonde is also a former J.D. Edwards customer, who said the IBM deal is a sign that PeopleSoft will strongly support customers and products regardless of the ultimate outcome of thee Oracle bid. "Its a little unsettling not knowing what is going to happen," he said, but the keynote gave him the feeling that PeopleSoft is going to stay focused on its product strategy.
He was particularly encouraged by signs that PeopleSoft will continue to provide additional enhancements to the J.D. Edward products. Crane uses JD. Edwards manufacturing, inventory and financial management applications, Osmonde said. Those applications hadnt received many enhancements over the past five years. But it looks like PeopleSoft is quickening the pace of enhancements to the J.D. Edwards products as well as its own, he said.
Baselines Tom Steinert-Threlkeld says what a difference a year makes, recalling last years keynote address. So what will next year bring? Click here to read more.
Conways speech was also important to an Australian PeopleSoft customer who said she was counting on PeopleSoft to provide continued support for a student administration application used at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
PeopleSoft took the time to do a lengthy requirements study to understand the universities needs before it implemented the student administration applications, said Maureen Bowen, director of student and academic administration.
Long-term support for the PeopleSoft application is important because "we dont have a viable replacement on the Oracle side," Bowen said. The PeopleSoft announcements about future product enhancements and the IBM deal instilled confidence that PeopleSoft will continue to enhance the student administration system, she said.
Click here to read about the enhancements that PeopleSoft is building into its Human Resources 8.9 applications.
The university is also counting on PeopleSoft remaining an independent company. "We would certainly would have concerns about whether Oracle would be as focused on the Australian education market as PeopleSoft has been, Bowen said.
The IBM alliance is the right step for PeopleSoft to take because the future of application software requires that it become more adaptable to changing needs, said Justin Glatz, senior manager, technical applications and business systems with Advance Magazine Group based in Wilmington, Del.
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The alliance will give PeopleSoft the resources they need to "to build an adaptable software architecture that is modular and that can more easily fit into your business structure," Glatz said. "That is where the current generation of ERP software is going right now," he said.
This is what PeopleSoft needs to do to keep up with customer requirements and to stay competitive in the market, Glatz said.
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John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.