PeopleSofts Conway Glib About Oracle in Keynote

During his Connect keynote address at PeopleSoft Inc.'s user conference, CEO Craig Conway pulled all the heartstrings-including a round of applause for former PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield. What he didn't do: dwell on Oracle's hostile takeover bid

SAN FRANCISCO—During his Connect keynote address at PeopleSoft Inc.s user conference here on Tuesday, CEO Craig Conway pulled all the heartstrings—including a round of applause for former PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield, who was strategically sitting front-row center for the keynote.

Conway wished Duffield good tidings for his birthday on Tuesday.

He even told a funny story about his 11-year-old son creating a "hostile working environment" in his sixth grade class by referring to Womens Beach Volleyball as the most important event at this summers Olympic Games.

What Conway didnt do was dwell on Oracle Corp.s hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft—a bid that the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Calif. ruled earlier this month is not anti-competitive.

"Let me ask you a question," said Conway, to the packed hall. "Have you ever had a bad dream that just wouldnt seem to end? We have. And ours has been going on for 15 months."

/zimages/5/28571.gifTom Steinert-Threlkeld at Baseline muses what a difference a year makes, recalling last years keynote address. So what will next year bring? Click here to read more.

Conway reiterated what he said in letters to customers and employees sent the day the U.S District Court cleared the way for Oracle to pursue PeopleSoft: The fights not over yet.

"Most importantly, [the ruling] does not mean PeopleSoft is going to be acquired," said Conway, who ticked off a list of events still standing in the way: The Department of Justice could still appeal the Courts decision; the European Commissions antitrust ruling is still hanging in the balance (it has already issued a statement of objections to the merger going through); and a PeopleSoft lawsuit that seeks an injunction to block the deal, along with monetary damages.

"Thats all Im allowed to say," said Conway. "There are only about 1,500 customers in the audience. Everyone else is an attorney."

Conway spent the rest of the session focusing on what PeopleSoft has accomplished in the past year—the integration of J.D. Edwards & Co, as well as the introduction of several new products—and where the company is heading in the future. Thats a message users are eager to hear, but dubious of counting on.

Conway said the future of PeopleSoft, and of the enterprise applications market overall, lies in being able to provide adaptable business processes.

What this boils down to is PeopleSoft enabling its applications to be service-enabled through an inherent middleware infrastructure—a piece thats been missing from PeopleSofts technology stack.

To this end, Conway announced a relationship with IBM that will bundle IBMs WebSphere middleware stack with all of PeopleSofts applications. Both companies are committed to spending $1 billion combined over the next five years toward this end.

/zimages/5/28571.gifBaselines Steinert-Threlkeld says recent talk of IBM becoming PeopleSofts "white knight" against an Oracle takeover is more than fairy tale.

"PeopleSoft does not offer our own layer of middleware products," said Conway. "Nor do we think it would be a good idea. Middleware is incredibly important. It has to do with a composition of different components, of different packages and internally developed [components]. Can one application company offer all that? We dont think so."

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