PeopleSoft sweetens market with free services

Embattled PeopleSoft is offering a sweetener to customers to migrate to the latest versions of its products, hopefully allowing...

Embattled PeopleSoft is offering a sweetener to customers to migrate to the latest versions of its products, hopefully allowing it to close more sales and boost its market position in its ongoing battle with rival Oracle.

Called the Now initiative, it was one of a number of announcements this week from PeopleSoft at its Connect 2004 user conference in San Francisco.

PeopleSoft, which is fighting a hostile takeover bid from Oracle, also announced a new partnership in which it will standardise its middleware stack around WebSphere and other infrastructure software from IBM. 

The Now programme, offered through PeopleSoft's Global Services arm, will allow customers a free technical upgrade, management services and training. The programme applies to World, Enterprise and EnterpriseOne customers and expires 31 December.

PeopleSoft will also give customers a $100,000 (£55,500) credit to qualifying new application software licence purchases that exceed $200,000. 

According to David Scott, vice-president of PeopleSoft's Global Services marketing and strategy unit, Now is designed to help PeopleSoft save on the expense of maintaining its older applications over the long run.

It will also allow customers to exploit the ease-of-use features now being embedded in the applications as part of PeopleSoft's Total Ownership Experience initiative, and help the company sell add-ons to customers who decide to do the upgrade, he said. 

Under the IBM partnership, PeopleSoft will be able to cross-sell and upsell with joint customers. Both companies will invest $1bn over the next five years in optimising their applications to interoperate more tightly, and PeopleSoft will eventually be shipping the entire WebSphere platform with all of its applications. 

That is welcome news to World customers already running their software on IBM AS/400 machines.

Dave Hyzy, director of IT at Benderson Development, whose company has already implemented WebSphere, said "This confirms we made the right choice." 

Benderson Development is looking to do more integration between World and IBM's other tools. In particular, the company is interested in IBM's Tivoli data management backup and recovery capabilities.

From a technological point of view, the partnership is not a significant move, said Ian Jacobs, an analyst at consultancy Current Analysis.

However, the deal between two of Oracle's rivals could at least bolster PeopleSoft's image in the market, he added.

Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld

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