Shortly after announcing its $10.3 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc. last week, Oracle Corp. wasted no time in setting out to win the confidence of former J.D. Edwards & Co. customers who have spent the past year transitioning to PeopleSoft and now will have to move again.
Charles Phillips, Oracles co-president and point man on the acquisition, and other Oracle executives last week reached out to the JDE faction of PeopleSoft customers, including board members of Quest, the former independent JDE user group that was known to have a rocky relationship with PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif.
To Fred Pond, current president of Quest and director of IS at Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., Oracle is saying all the right things.
"This is probably not what most former JDE customers would have selected if they had a vote, as another merger and transition will be potentially painful. But, on the other hand, finally having a decision made on this is a huge relief," said Pond in Portland, Ore. "The uncertainty of the 18-month battle had worn out a majority of us customers."
According to Pond, Oracle pledged to work with Quest as the "unified voice" of PeopleSoft World and EnterpriseOne users, and Quest in turn pledged cooperation with Oracle on behalf of midmarket customers.
In its meeting with Quest, Oracle also sought to dismiss the notion that it would sell off any part of the PeopleSoft business. Oracle promised new versions of both PeopleSoft Enterprise (Version 9) and EnterpriseOne (Version 6 of the former JDE OneWorld) applications. It also promised to extend support for EnterpriseOne Version XE; the support was slated to end in February. Oracle officials did not, however, commit to the length of the extension.
Questions remain. While Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., told Quest it is committed to working with IBM on hardware platforms such as iSeries servers, it stopped short of committing to the software and middleware directions JDE and PeopleSoft had crafted with IBM, Pond said.
And although Oracle said it expects to support the former JDE products for at least 10 years, the details of exact versions and products will still need to be worked out.
Meanwhile, Oracle expects to develop a successor product over the next three to four years based on Oracle infrastructure that would incorporate much of the functionality that PeopleSoft customers have; the product would provide incentives for customers to migrate if it makes sense for them.
John Matelski, deputy CIO and chief security officer for the city of Orlando, Fla., a PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne customer, also hailed the "significant commitments" Oracle made to support PeopleSoft customers, noting that Safra Catz, an Oracle co-president, indicated that the company will support PeopleSoft applications through 2013.
While Matelski said there is "no question" that Oracle plans to move PeopleSoft customers to Oracle products over the long term, he is confident that Oracle wont force anyone to move.
"Their intent is to build an application within the next three to four years that folks can migrate to ... that will be Java-/Web-based and will have an Oracle database," he said.