Oracle Reassures PeopleSoft Channel

Nothing changes

"Our message is continue what you're doing," said Oracle President Charles Phillips. "There's no reason to stop engaging the customer. All products will be supported aggressively." And Oracle executives took pains to reiterate that the company will "support and improve" the J.D. Edwards products, most recently called PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne and PeopleSoft World, until 2013.

"We will finish J.D. Edwards 8.11 and start 8.12 -- using PeopleSoft's tools to develop these next versions," said CEO Larry Ellison. "Late this year or early next year you can look at upgrading to the next version. And we will continue to enhance and support the World product every 12 to 15 months, through 2006 and beyond."

Oracle also made pains to say it will adhere to PeopleSoft's support policy, with two exceptions: It will now support the aging XE and 8.0 versions of PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne (formerly of J.D. Edwards) until Feb. 2007. That support was scheduled to end within the next month.

"It's really good to hear that they will extend that support, said Paula Milano, president of PeopleSoft solution provider Axion Solutions, Irvine, Calif.. "A lot of customers are still on XE."

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In addition, Ellison said that Oracle will indeed support Microsoft's SQL database as well as IBM's iSeries servers. PeopleSoft's AS/400-based World suite runs only on IBM's iSeries. "The fact is, our relationship with IBM just got dramatically deeper and broader," said Ellison.

During a combination Webcast and live conference of nearly 1,300 attendees, six of Oracle's most senior executives sought to convince customers and partners that the newly merged company will demonstrate the three "Cs" of consistency, continuity and critical mass in its approach to the enterprise applications market. Those virtues will apply to products, support and sales, according to such executives as Phillips, Ellison and John Wookey, Oracle's newly named senior vice president of Applications Development.

In a room festooned with banners reading "Oracle and PeopleSoft -- Better Together," executives of the Redwood Shores, Calif., vendor laid out the organizational charter and structure of the combined company, which announced late Friday that 5,000 employees would lose their jobs. Now numbering 50,000 employees, the new company claims to be tops in North America in enterprise applications, and the number one vendor worldwide of both human resources and supply chain management applications. According to Philips, Oracle's sales organization is now 65 percent larger than it was a month ago, and boast 11,000 global consultants.

"Consulting is only about 15 percent of our ecosystem, so partners play a major role," said Philips, who has been the channel's biggest proponent within a company trying to convince partners it's not channel-hostile anymore. "We now have 14,000 partners - about 1,300 of which are focused only on applications. That figure includes PeopleSoft, which had a large channel for its J.D. Edwards products. So a partner-friendly organization just got larger."

In the weeks leading up to its acquisition, PeopleSoft had beefed up its reseller channel. Now those resellers are being invited to play in Oracle's solutions pool.

"We will converge our channel program with the PeopleSoft Connect program, and we will synchronize the terms and conditions of those programs over the next few months," said Philips. "For the partner it means more products, one relationship that's simplified, and critical mass. The key message is more of the same, just bigger."