Oracle chats up PeopleSoft customers

Oracle held its second "town hall" webcast meeting for PeopleSoft customers yesterday.

Oracle held its second "town hall" webcast meeting for PeopleSoft customers yesterday.

Executives fielded questions through a moderator about Oracle's plans in the event that its $7.3bn bid to acquire PeopleSoft succeeded. This time, Oracle enlisted a customer who experienced the company's 1994 acquisition of Digital Electronics' RDB database software to attest to Oracle's benign approach to ruling conquered territory.

DirecTV still uses RDB as the underpinning for its core billing and customer care systems, which track 11 million customers and process up to 25 million transactions each day, said chief information officer Bob Pacek.

While DirecTV uses Oracle products elsewhere in the company, Oracle has never pressured the company to scrap RDB and migrate entirely to Oracle's database software. Meanwhile, Oracle's support for RDB has been unwavering, according to Pacek.

Oracle executives Chuck Phillips and Mike Rocha spent most of the meeting reiterating Oracle's pledge to maintain PeopleSoft's applications and support PeopleSoft's customers.

While Oracle will offer free module-for-module licence swaps to PeopleSoft customers interested in migrating to Oracle's applications, it will not force any customers to do so, Rocha said, noting that 2,000 of the 10,000 customers RDB had when it was acquired are still using RDB's database.

"We plan to treat PeopleSoft products just like Oracle products," Rocha said. "I mean, they will be Oracle products."

Oracle faces daunting obstacles as it seeks to complete the hostile takeover it launched in June. As of early August, only 10% of PeopleSoft's shareholders had taken advantage of Oracle's tender offer.

Should Oracle manage to win the support of PeopleSoft's shareholders, it could still be derailed by PeopleSoft's "poison pill", a provision in its bylaws which allows it to dilute its stock and make a takeover prohibitively expensive.

Oracle has filed a legal challenge against PeopleSoft's poison pill. The company will also be in court with PeopleSoft as it defends against a PeopleSoft lawsuit accusing it of libel and unfair competition. Hearings on that lawsuit are expected to begin shortly.

PeopleSoft chief executive officer Craig Conway will have his own turn at the microphone later today, when he speaks in New York at a PeopleSoft meeting with financial analysts.

In two weeks' time, PeopleSoft hosts its annual PeopleSoft Connect customer conference in Anaheim, California. The Oracle Applications Users Group will be running its annual show simultaneously, in San Diego. Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft will be a major topic of conversation.

It is also likely to be a theme at OracleWorld, which begins next week in San Francisco. Although the company's tender offer for PeopleSoft is now set to expire on 19 September, another extension of the deadline seems inevitable.

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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