Users anxious about Oracle/PeopleSoft battle

PeopleSoft chief executive officer Craig Conway's speech at the CeBIT America show in New York left a number of customers anxious...

PeopleSoft chief executive officer Craig Conway's speech at the CeBIT America show in New York left a number of customers anxious about the future.

Conway was upbeat and made scant reference to Oracle's hostile takeover efforts, but did not address customer headaches created by Oracle's move.

The takeover fight caught one would-be PeopleSoft customer, automotive parts manufacturer Hayes Lemmerz International, in the midst of a plan to consolidate its ERP systems.

Bruce Leidal, director of technology at the £1.4bn company, saw potential benefits in PeopleSoft's plan to acquire JD Edwards, which was announced early this month. He said he liked JD Edwards' manufacturing systems and PeopleSoft's human resources package.

But now, "maybe we ought to stand away from a selection with Oracle, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards," said Leidal, adding that officials from his company were due to meet with rival ERP supplier SAP this week.

"The best outcome that I would see is Oracle would lay off; PeopleSoft would acquire JD Edwards and produce a road map in a fairly short period and say what they were going to do to integrate those products," he said.

Another user stung by the battle is Bruce Kuppersmith, director of human resource information management at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. He was in the middle of rolling out PeopleSoft Version 8.8 when Oracle announced its bid and is currently working on a contingency plan to protect his investment.

"Forcing Oracle on people that use PeopleSoft is not acceptable," he said. "It's not in the same class as PeopleSoft at all, at least in terms of the human resources space."

Kuppersmith said his contingency planning involves forming alliances with third-party PeopleSoft development suppliers, "to keep the platform alive and working and viable for years to come"

"We're not going to rely on Oracle. We're a little anxious about the outcome, to say the least," he explained.

There was little anxiety evident in Conway's speech. But he didn't take questions and left the stage after warm applause. Instead, he spoke of the benefits of acquiring JD Edwards.

"The key to the success of an acquisition is the advantages it brings in products, markets and distribution and common vision between those two companies, culture and management execution," said Conway. "We feel we have that locked with JD Edwards."

One conference participant, Anatoly Altshuler, vice-president at Tata Consultancy Services, said his organisation was not slowing down any of its training on PeopleSoft. But if the merger goes through, he said, PeopleSoft would be dead as a platform.

PeopleSoft is "a very strong balance to Oracle", said Altshuler. If the acquisition succeeds, he added, "products will not be as good, not as sophisticated and moving a bit slower. PeopleSoft was a champion of sophistication".

Patrick Thibodeau writes for Computerworld

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