Users breathe easy as PeopleSoft war of attrition ends

Australian PeopleSoft and JD Edwards users today breathed a collective sigh of relief on news that Oracle Corporation has finally succeeded in its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.

Oracle has signed a definitive agreement to acquire PeopleSoft for US$26.50 per share, or approximately US$10.3 billion according to announcements from both companies posted around 2am Tuesday morning.

Both vendors have moved to cease current litigation and commence work on the mechanics of merging the two entities immediately.

According to a statement from PeopleSoft in the US, Oracle's latest offer finally constituted good value for shareholders - the same shareholders that unceremoniously sacked PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway at the beginning of October.

At the Australian Department of Defence, Director General of Personnel Systems and PeopleSoft R7/8 user Peter Lush said the move brought welcome closure to a situation which remained unresolved for over 18 months.

"At long last it's done with...we don't have to wait and wonder," Lush said, adding he was waiting to see how the restructure of PeopleSoft would translate across product, staff and support lines.

Lush said he was comforted by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's initial comments that support for existing product lines would continue as the vendor went about integrating PeopleSoft applications into its current line-up.

Coopers Brewery IT manager and JD Edwards user Michael Shearer was also happy to see closure on the long-running saga.

"Now that a definitive decision has been made we can concentrate on core activities," he said. The takeover battle "has been a distraction", Shearer said, adding that he wanted to hear more as soon as possible about how any new integrated products would work.

"In the initial releases, Oracle is talking about a PeopleSoft 10...which appears to be a migration. We'd like to hear more about that. If Oracle is saying PeopleSoft 10 is 30-36 months, [then] we have questions on [any] migration," Shearer said.

Shearer said a major concern for smaller JDE users like himself was what would happen if integration between the two vendors led to expanded infrastructure and support costs. Shearer said the reason Coopers chose JDE was because of its modest platform and support requirements it offered over larger players.

"We purchased JDE for a reason: a good business fit. A concern with any Oracle migration would be the fit - that we are not pushed into something bigger that does not suit us [in terms of support and infrastructure costs]. We have [an organisation of] 100 people. We don't want two people sitting in the back shed minding ERP," Shearer said.

At winemaker Brown Brothers, CIO and JDE OneWorld ERP 8 user John Brown was also relieved. Brown particularly welcomed Oracle's immediate friendly approach to the JDE user group Quest as "a fantastic sign" after a year of difficult negotiations with PeopleSoft - especially over the vendor-independent status of Quest which saw PeopleSoft withdraw recognition of Quest and sponsorship of the annual user-group conference.

"It was disappointing PeopleSoft severed ties with the user group Quest. Ultimately, Quest is a catalyst for users and [vendors] expertise," Brown said

"There's enormous constructive value in independently run user groups. I would certainly be keen for Quest to maintain that independence. I fundamentally believe [as a user] in that [vendor] independent model [as] valuable for the community and the owner of the software [the vendor]," he said.

Two other IT managers who use JDE - and asked not to be named - also welcomed the decision, but expressed differing views on the year that had been under PeopleSoft's tenure.

One IT manager accused PeopleSoft of having done little other than make sure it was maximizing licensing revenue and sending a thriving user-group community to Coventry.

"Hopefully the user-group will now come back in. To date PeopleSoft has not been interested. What has PeopleSoft done except audit its customers' licensing?" one IT manger complained.

Another manufacturing based IT manager was more upbeat saying PeopleSoft had achieved more in terms of new enhancements for manufacturing and supply chain modules than JDE had accomplished in the last four years.

However, the same IT manager was wary of Oracle's track history of integrating acquisitions.

"Oracle doesn't have a great track record in buying stuff and developing it. Look at PC Express- its ERP is not brilliant either," the IT manager said.

Both Oracle and PeopleSoft refused to provide any local comment on the situation at time of press.

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