IBM, PeopleSoft Outline Integration Road Map

Executives from both companies lay out the details of the $1 billion alliance.

PeopleSoft Inc. and IBM are pounding out the details of the $1 billion alliance announced last week, a deal that calls for joint development of composite applications, as well as the integration of IBMs WebSphere middleware into PeopleSofts applications.

The alliance will enable PeopleSoft to finally claim its own infrastructure, or composite application integration framework offering—something its competitors have been doing for quite some time. The framework will enable users to eventually model, manage, integrate and execute business processes using Web services.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about the IBM-PeopleSoft deal.

PeopleSoft rival SAP AG announced its composite application framework two years ago and its NetWeaver integration platform last year. At the same time, database and business applications provider Oracle Corp. opened up its suite to integration last year, with the next steps presumably a composite applications capability.

Oracle, of course, is working diligently to acquire PeopleSoft in an all-out, $7.7 billion hostile takeover bid.

In separate interviews with eWEEK, Danny Sabbah, vice president of IBM Software Group strategy and technology, and Jesper Andersen, general manager of PeopleSoft Tools and Technology, laid out the integration road map between the companies.

"Were basically working from the outside in. Were going to start doing things like integrating their portal to our portal," said Sabbah, in Somers, N.Y. "They will be leveraging our business process flow engine."

Sabbah said PeopleSoft will use BPEL [business process execution language] to orchestrate business process flows.

"Theyre going to use our WebSphere Business Integration server foundation to start implementing those flows in their applications to map to those standards for integration within themselves, integration outside, and integration with legacy data and legacy code," he said.

At the same time, PeopleSoft will use IBMs business process modeler tools "almost immediately," with the goal of enabling customers to model business processes.

The idea here is that by using IBMs tools coupled with industry standards PeopleSoft will be able to provide executable business processes that actually drive the applications, according to Andersen.

"As you change those business processes, the modeler ties into the BPEL execution engine and the [application] behavior will change," said Andersen, in Pleasanton, Calif.

He did not provide a timeframe for the execution capability—notably the most difficult aspect of process integration.

PeopleSoft is also making changes to its development tools with plans to port its PeopleTools to Eclipse, the open-source development environment started in part by IBM, which also utilizes Eclipse for its development tools.

"The refinement or the simplicity model that they [PeopleSoft] may want to present just flows right into and leverages [our environment] because it leverages the same base," said Sabbah. "It eliminates a lot of silly arguments and mismatches around how you build applications."

As part of the agreement, PeopleSoft and IBM will co-develop a number of industry-specific composite applications. The companies announced last week three initial composite applications, including Customer Profitability Management, Network Lifecycle Management, and Customer Loyalty and Retention. Later applications will include Distribution Channel Management for the insurance industry and Integrated Risk Management for banking and financial markets.

The composite applications are the start of where PeopleSoft wants to go. As the company continues to componentize its applications—a road Walldorf, Germany-based SAP embarked on earlier this year with its plan to service-enable its applications—PeopleSoft will provide the capability for users to develop their own composite applications.

"I see [the industry solutions] as the wave breaker," said PeopleSofts Andersen. "It is a lot easier to make those [composite applications] than it is to power your horizontal applications [for componentized integration], so you will see that there first. The [industry solutions] will involve the core applications, but you will see it move into core applications directly at a slower pace."

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