Oracle mixes messages on PeopleSoft support

At its user conference on Wednesday, Oracle continued sending mixed messages to PeopleSoft customers concerned about how Oracle might support their products.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison emphasized reassurances when the issue came up at a question and answer session with attendees following his keynote address. "We're going to over-support the PeopleSoft customers," he said. "We intend to finish PeopleSoft 9, and we're going to do as good a job on that as we know how."

But after PeopleSoft 9, he said Oracle would take both products' development teams and build a functionally merged product -- contradicting Oracle President Charles Phillips' comments on Monday that "customers can expect two separate (applications) tracks." Phillips said Oracle would never merge the PeopleSoft and Oracle code bases.

Ellison made clear he was discussing long-term plans: "It won't happen overnight," he said. However, Oracle's clashing statements indicate how hazy the future is for PeopleSoft customers.

Oracle executives have repeatedly expressed confidence in the technical superiority of their software. Customers who upgrade, post-acquisition, to the Oracle-built successor to PeopleSoft's applications will get "a dramatically better product," Ellison said.

Still, he portrayed the acquisition as advantageous to Oracle and its customers as well.

"We're going to invest more in the applications than Oracle or PeopleSoft could have done alone," he said. "We're going to give SAP a run for their money in this business. To do that, we need more customers and more engineers."

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