Conway: Oracles Old News

PeopleSoft CEO looks forward with simpler-to-use apps.

Craig Conway, president and CEO of PeopleSoft Inc., had his hands full this summer closing a deal to purchase J.D. Edwards & Co. and fighting off an unresolved hostile takeover bid from Oracle Corp. In the meantime, developers working on the Pleasanton, Calif., companys TOE (total ownership experience) initiative readied ease-of-use enhancements to PeopleSofts enterprise applications. The company introduced those up- dates at its PeopleSoft Connect user conference in Anaheim, Calif., last week, where Conway discussed PeopleSofts past and future with eWEEK Senior Writer Dennis Callaghan. For the complete transcript, go to

Im told you dont want to talk about Oracle. Is its hostile takeover bid over in your mind?

Its been over since mid-July. Its yesterdays news. Theres nothing new to talk about. They say they continue to be interested in PeopleSoft. Well, I continue to be interested in playing in the NBA. But Im 5-foot-8 and 49 years old.

Could the TOE initiative actually reduce PeopleSofts services revenue and force you to increase your reliance on license revenues?

That could be an unintended consequence [of TOE]. Were not shifting our emphasis to selling more licenses; there will just be less investment needed week-in, week-out in running our software. I think if we dont do it, its like trying to stop the world or stop progress. Its what people want to do. They want enterprise applications that are extremely easy to implement and maintain. They want technology companies to do most of the heavy lifting. One of the implications may be that less professional services will be required, and I think thats a good thing.

Have you shifted your development efforts away from Oracles database since the takeover bid?

No, not at all. I have no ax to grind with the Oracle database. Its a great database; 40 to 45 percent of our customers are on the Oracle database. I believe that the stronger play for Oracle would have been to work with PeopleSoft so that [J.D. Edwards customers] could use the Oracle stack instead of the IBM Blue stack. J.D. Edwards runs on the IBM database, but we could have just as easily gone out with the J.D. Edwards product built on Oracle.

Will you extend Oracle database support, then, to the J.D. Edwards applications youve acquired?

Were spending 1,000 percent of our time on [integrating PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards]. But were not only interested in Oracle. At some point, I might call [Microsoft Corp. CEO] Steve Ballmer and see if hes interested in doing something. Those kinds of discussions are only good for the industry.

PeopleSoft has indicated that it plans to support three distinct application product lines and code bases since acquiring J.D. Edwards. How long will this support continue? Do you plan to merge the code bases at some point?

It will continue forever. I dont know why people assumed, when we have separate product lines tuned and optimized for certain markets and both companies on their own were profitable, that we would merge our code bases. I dont understand that at all. When Ford [Motor Co.] bought Jaguar, they didnt merge their product lines into a single car. They still build and sell Jaguars. They just add Ford technology that can make them better. I dont know why people are saying that its a foregone conclusion that were going to merge our code bases. Its ridiculous.