PeopleSoft to Link to SAP

Users not yet ready to trash middleware.

Craig Conway
PeopleSoft Inc. officials have inaugurated what they are calling "the beginning of the end of middleware," but enterprises dont expect to be throwing out their enterprise application integration tools just yet.

Like other major enterprise software vendors, the Pleasanton, Calif., developer is promising to help its customers reduce the cost of connecting third-party applications to its own by adding integration features to its suite.

Starting with the PeopleSoft Supplier Relationship Management application late this year, PeopleSoft will support direct integration with SAP AG and Oracle Corp. business applications on a rolling basis, using PeopleSofts AppConnect integration technology.

"If every enterprise software company did the same thing, it would be the beginning of the end to middleware, and savings could be put into new technologies," said PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway at the PeopleSoft Leadership Summit here last week. "This is the beginning of the end of middleware, and its the beginning of truly cross-functional applications.

"The burden of connecting your applications should be on the enterprise software companies, not you," he told attendees.

PeopleSoft officials acknowledged that the NetWeaver integration offering SAP introduced last year is similar to AppConnect. But whether these offerings can keep up with enterprises integration needs is another story.

"Theres always some other program we will need to integrate to add more value to our operations," said Al Jones, IT business systems manager at Environmental Systems Products Holdings Inc., in East Granby, Conn., which is deploying several PeopleSoft applications to replace a legacy system.

Jones said having better integration capabilities built into PeopleSoft applications will reduce his costs, although he said hes hoping to see more than just Oracle and SAP integrations supported.

Chris Shea, vice president for Hewlett-Packard Co.s Consumer/Imaging and Printing Group Services and Support team, said he expects to some day benefit from easier integration of the PeopleSoft and SAP applications his company is running. But Shea will still have other integration issues to deal with, such as tying together customer data from PeopleSoft customer service applications and Siebel Systems Inc. sales applications.

"What Craig has is great vision," said Shea, of Cupertino, Calif. "But I think its going to be a while for this vision to take shape."

Integration costs arent the only thing PeopleSoft wants to lower. At the conference, the company said it will provide its customers more freedom of choice by having all its applications run on Linux and support Apple Computer Inc.s open-source Safari browser, by the fourth quarter. In a stinging rebuke, Conway derided Microsoft Corp.s .Net platform as the "home formula for asbestos" and pledged to end Microsofts "death grip" on the IT industry.

PeopleSoft has partnered with IBM to port and optimize PeopleSofts applications to Linux, running on IBM eServer xSeries servers with IBM database and application server software. Officials said the Linux support will reduce customers deployment costs. In another move to cut customers costs, PeopleSoft launched a development effort known as Total Ownership Experience, or TOE, to ensure its software can be installed in one day and configured to customer requirements in weeks rather than months.

"Its heartening for the future," said Environmental Systems Products Jones of TOE, although he said he doesnt expect the initiative to help much with his current PeopleSoft implementation.