PeopleSoft's Linux Leap

ISV expected to have lineup available on open-source OS this year

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By the end of the year, PeopleSoft's business software will be available on Linux, the company said last week.

That is no small feat. PeopleSoft, which leads the market in human resources management applications, now fields 170 modules that run on Windows and Unix.

The Linux plunge, which comes after similar moves by rivals SAP and Oracle, is just the latest sign that ISVs see the open-source operating system as a way to break their reliance on Microsoft.

PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway didn't mince words at the company's Leadership Conference, held here. "Unix broke the dependency on IBM mainframes, and Linux will break the dependency on Microsoft," he said.

IBM, which is also banking big on Linux as a way to circumvent Microsoft, is helping PeopleSoft test and certify its products on IBM's xSeries hardware and WebSphere application server.

PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP and others hope that by putting their applications on Linux they can cut end-user costs without actually having to cut their own software pricing. None of them offer Linux versions of their applications at a lower price.

PeopleSoft CTO Rick Bergquist said at the conference there will be no price difference between its Unix and Linux offerings. The savings will come from the use of standard, low-cost hardware and presumably cheaper operating systems.

Still, conference attendees maintained that the price of enterprise applications remains a huge issue.

PeopleSoft has "great software," said the IT director of one large PeopleSoft shop, who requested anonymity, "I'm just not sure why it's so expensive. They put in all this stuff, most of which we don't use, but we sure pay for it."

Overall price typically includes the software license itself, plus support and maintenance fees.

Peoplesoft executives say they hear concerns about price but insist that customers are willing to pay for quality.

"Cheaper is an easy thing to ask for, but the software itself is a relatively small component of [the total cost of ownership]," said Bill Henry, vice president of marketing and strategy for PeopleSoft's Global Services group. "You have to show [customers] value in the benefits, and that value is what they pay for."

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