Conway Sounds Off on Oracle

PeopleSoft CEO puts the Oracle takeover battle behind him as he looks forward to simplifying his company's enterprise applications.

Craig Conway, president and CEO of PeopleSoft Inc., had his hands full this summer fighting off a hostile takeover bid from Oracle Corp. and closing a deal to purchase J.D. Edwards & Co. 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 updates as well as an extended support plan at its PeopleSoft Connect user conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week. Conway discussed PeopleSofts past and future with eWEEK Senior Writer Dennis Callaghan at Connect.

Im told you dont want to talk about Oracle. Is their 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.

Oracle said that if it acquired PeopleSoft, it would support PeopleSoft applications longer than PeopleSoft currently does. It may be a cynical view, but theres speculation that your extension of support was in response to that challenge. What motivated PeopleSoft to extend its support?

I would say that is a cynical view, but I guess it doesnt really surprise me that people are saying that. The fact is weve always supported our products indefinitely. I dont know what you can do thats longer than indefinitely. We added another year of support for upgrade scripts because [PeopleSoft] 7.5 was at the end of its four-year period [of upgrade support] Dec. 31. If we discontinued the upgrade scripts for 7.5 thered be no way for customers to get to PeopleSoft 8. Upgrade scripts are a good way to get there. It had nothing to do with Oracle. … Our primary reason for doing this is that its good for customers. This is not Oracle reactive.


Could PeopleSofts 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.

Can software license revenues ever go up again?

Sure they can. Software licenses are capital expenditures. In tough economies, people cut back on capital expenditures. Theyre not immune from the pressure not to spend. … I think buying behavior is starting to return to normal. CIOs are signing purchase orders again without huge layers of oversight. Ive never before been in an environment where boards of directors had to approve CIOs purchases. But thats starting to change. CIOs are getting back control over projects and budgets like theyve always had.

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