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By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-10-29 Print this article Print

What would that look like for BEA customers? According to some PeopleSoft users, there should be some concern about Oracles service quality, which in turn begs the question of Oracles ability to integrate its myriad acquisitions. "We feel like there is risk in moving forward with PeopleSoft, and were trying to assess that risk," said George Muller, vice president and CIO at Imperial Sugar in Sugar Land, Texas, who is weighing an upgrade to PeopleSoft Enterprise 9. "From my perspective, there are a number of companies that have abandoned PeopleSoft and have gone in other directions."
An active member of a number of PeopleSoft—and now Oracle—application user groups, Muller said he has seen a drastic reduction in the number of companies represented by at least one organization, DMUG (Distributors and Manufacturers Users Group), which bills itself as a product-specific group of PeopleSoft users.
Muller said there were about 150 companies represented at DMUGs annual meeting in New Orleans in April 2005. By October 2006, the group had dwindled to about 75 companies. "In a year and a half, what I witnessed was a 50 percent drop-off in participation," he said. "Theyre either holding their own or they are going someplace else." Steve Canter, CIO of Berlin Packaging and current president of DMUG, said that while he has seen as good—or in some areas, improved—customer service under Oracles watch of PeopleSoft applications, the functionality upgrades are not what they used to be. "One of the things we are seeing is, in many of the applications lines, there is not as much going on in terms of product feature enhancements as there once was," said Canter, in Chicago. "PeopleSoft had decided after the JD Edwards acquisition that they were going to put more marketing behind the JD Edwards line—for manufacturers—so as a result, if they were not going to be leading with PeopleSoft on their go-to-market strategy, then there was not as much incentive to make enhancements." Oracle appears to be continuing this trend with some of the other product lines, Canter said. Canter is staying with PeopleSoft for the foreseeable future because its too disruptive to move, but he is seeing some disturbing trends at Oracle, he said. For one, rather than integrating functionality that it acquires from other companies, as PeopleSoft would have done, Oracle is pointing to its other product lines, he said. While the strategy to leverage other lines makes sense from a business standpoint, for a midmarket CIO its a tough pill to swallow. "We dont have the resources to support a lot of different stacks," Canter said. "And no matter how good application integration is, its better to have everything under a single umbrella; its one of the reasons we chose a single umbrella. But the world seems to be drifting away from that—led by Oracle." Customers also point to resources being moved away from core application development to Fusion development as the source for at least some of the issues with PeopleSofts software. "A lot of strategy and development effort is going toward Fusion, and that cant help but take away from other product lines," Canter said. Oracles bid for BEA, which develops middleware, has brought Oracles Fusion efforts into question. The departure of John Wookey as head of application development for Fusion Applications has heightened concern about the middlewares prospects. Imperial Sugars Muller said that after 30 years in the IT business, hes found there is no perfect system, and Fusion Applications will be no exception. "No matter how good your methodologies and processes are, putting something together and bundling something that massive is a huge undertaking and has R-I-S-K in capital letters written across the top," Muller said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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