PeopleSoft pushes application integration

As expected, PeopleSoft Inc. this week is pushing the value of real-time application and business process connectivity throughout a company, and it's also making a bid to win some customers to its new homeland security offerings.

During a keynote address here this week at the Connect 2002 user show, PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway discussed the competitive need for an always-on, highly connected set of business applications. To help make that possible, he announced AppConnect, a new combined portal, data warehouse and data integration broker that promises to more tightly integrate heterogeneous data throughout an enterprise.

In the same vein, Conway also touted PeopleSoft's human resources management software and other related applications to assist the government with hiring new personnel and consolidating or connecting various agencies and departments as part of the homeland security initiative.

"The fact is, if you don't have the right people in the right job, there is no homeland security," said Conway.

As part of that initiative, Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft announced an upcoming enhancement to its student administration application, called PASS (for Patriot Act SEVIS Solution), that can automatically detect any changes in administrative information about students, extract it and report it to immigration authorities as needed.

PeopleSoft also unveiled Guardian, a set of applications to enable government agencies and local fire and police departments to prepare for and respond to emergencies in real time.

"Every level in government is struggling with how to handle the tens of thousands of people who must be hired, reassigned, transferred, retrained and redeployed to new homeland defense roles," Carol Kelly, vice president of the government strategies service at Meta Group Inc., said in a statement. "The imperative of matching the right resources with the right skills has long been a strength of PeopleSoft, and they are now extending this capability to address the needs of homeland defense."

The various announcements drew different responses from users.

The PeopleSoft PASS product will reduce aggravation when the government's automated Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) tracking system goes live in January, said Lester Monts, senior vice provost at the University of Michigan. "It's going to be a heck of a time-saver for us," he said.

The university, which already runs a highly customized set of PeopleSoft 7 financial and human resources applications, plans to implement the PASS software as it becomes available, depending on when the government finalizes its regulations.

The connected enterprise concept was especially enticing to Brad Coleman, vice president of systems development at marketing services provider Aegis Communications Group Inc. in Irving, Texas. He's attempting to create a centralized Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse that will take data feeds from various sources and be accessible easily via browser at geographically distributed locations.

The company is using the PeopleSoft 8 customer relationship management support product for one of its clients and would like to consolidate the majority of its homegrown and third-party applications on PeopleSoft as well.

However, that kind of connectivity hasn't always been useful for conference attendees.

"That is nowhere near our radar screen," said Jim Prevo, CIO at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. in Waterbury, Vt. His company runs PeopleSoft 8 enterprise resource planning software. "We have a lot of other more basic work to do before we are even ready to evaluate the merits of functionality like that."

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