PeopleSoft Inc. is trying to make it easier for customers to work its enterprise resource planning software into their enterprises.
The Pleasanton, Calif., company next quarter will add a message broker in the 8.4 release of the PeopleTools application development environment. The broker will translate messages between disparate applications and guarantee message delivery.
Version 8.4 will also include "out-of-the-box" support for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration). PeopleTools currently supports SOAP and UDDI—which provide the structure of messages translated by the message broker—but requires customers to perform some XML coding. That coding will be incorporated in the 8.4 release. Customers will see reduced time and cost to integrate PeopleSoft applications with third-party software and improved collaboration among customers, suppliers and partners, officials said.
MedSolutions Inc., of Nashville, Tenn., integrates PeopleSoft 8 CRM with transaction processing systems and fax server software. Michelle Miller, vice president of IS, said the com- pany plans to focus on real-time integration with business partners next year to get a better view of customer transactions.
"In the current framework, they handled [integration] better than anyone else did; theyre already ahead of their competitors," Miller said. "This year, weve been focused on automating internal integration; next year, well focus on external. Theres certainly a place there [for SOAP and UDDI]."
PeopleSoft hopes the enhancements to PeopleTools improve PeopleSofts Web services story, said Chief Technology Officer Richard Bergquist.
"Were expanding our capabilities to handle Web services," Bergquist said at the PeopleSoft Thought Leadership Roadshow here last week. Message broker "will take messages wherever it gets them and transform them into messages the applications can handle."
The move by PeopleSoft follows an announcement by SAP AG last month that it will provide tools for its R/3 e-business applications that let developers integrate SAP-defined business processes with those of third-party applications. Also last month, Oracle Corp. partner NetLedger Inc. announced new XML-based tools designed to help developers exchange business information with Oracle Small Business Suite.
"This is definitely part of a general trend in big applications being able to support a heterogeneous environment," said Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Daly City, Calif. "These are the first salvos in what will be a long-standing war to be both an enterprise applications supplier and an integration supplier."
Greenbaum said that 90 percent of integrations are done with outside help today and that he doesnt expect the new tools to change that very much.
"They should be able to make a difference relatively quickly, but its going to be a while before vendors like PeopleSoft have the confidence of the market to challenge the established [integration software] vendors that have the benefits of the Switzerland card—neutrality," Greenbaum said. "[Customers] will wonder How good a job can PeopleSoft do in having a proactive function in solving SAPs integration problems?"
Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. is certainly ready to try out the PeopleTools upgrade.
The Cambridge, Mass., company, which uses PeopleSoft human resources software in addition to other third-party software, is digesting two acquisitions.
"Anything that would make that transformation easier is welcome," said Alan Heintz, director of human resource operations for HR IS at Millennium.