PeopleSoft: Move to Linux a response to customer demand

For some time now, enterprise software vendor PeopleSoft, like many other companies, has been hearing from customers considering Linux for some of their business applications. So what finally motivated PeopleSoft to announce this week that the company will port all of its 170 enterprise applications to Linux by the end of the year?

"What's changed in the last few months is where (customers) want to use it," said David Sayed, PeopleSoft's technology product marketing manager. "Now, customers are telling us they want to run enterprise applications," rather than just bringing in Linux to run file servers, Web servers and other infrastructure support roles. "It's a coming together of customer demand and (Linux) maturity as a whole."

On Tuesday, the company used its 2003 PeopleSoft Leadership Summit event in Las Vegas to announce its big Linux splash, joining a host of other major software vendors that have embraced Linux over much of their product lines. That list includes Oracle, SAP and Computer Associates International.

PeopleSoft will support all of its applications on Linux using Red Hat Advanced Server, including Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Performance Management, Enterprise Service Automation, Financial Management, Human Capital Management and Supplier Relationship Management.

Joining PeopleSoft in its announcement was IBM, which has been a strong Linux advocate in the marketplace for at least two years, selling Linux on a wide range of IBM hardware for business users.

Under the deal, PeopleSoft is partnering with IBM to offer the PeopleSoft Linux applications on IBM's eServer xSeries Intel-based servers, using IBM DB2 Universal Database and WebSphere Application Server applications.

Sayed said the company prepared for its move by looking at Linux internally so it would be ready. "It's an investment to support a platform well," Sayed said. "This is presenting tremendous value at the right time."

PeopleSoft also supports Microsoft Windows server operating systems, IBM's AIX, Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX, Sun Microsystems' Solaris and IBM's z/OS mainframe operating systems.

The company has been able to make the transition easier by porting its PeopleSoft Pure Internet Architecture system to Linux first. Then it will fine-tune its applications to the platform. "Having this simple architecture across all applications is fairly helpful to us," Sayed said.

Scott Handy, director of Linux software solutions at IBM, said PeopleSoft's move to bring all of its applications to Linux "is the biggest commitment from any ISV (independent software vendor)" so far in the expanding Linux marketplace. "We were talking about doing Linux with them for a while, but they were waiting for customers" to provide the demand.

"The question really wasn't 'if,' it was 'when' -- and we think it's a great time," he said. "The magnitude of this announcement, I think, will cause other ISVs to take notice."

Analysts said PeopleSoft wants to be in the right place as Linux use grows in business computing.

"This is exactly the kind of thing that will help a platform become a mainstream choice," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC. "PeopleSoft's announcement is part of an evolution" in the marketplace.

"I suspect that the more (customers) who get behind it, the more interest there will be in the market," Kusnetzky said. "And the more interest in the market, the more (customers) will get behind it."

Nicholas Petreley, an analyst at Evans Data, said the timing is good because "Linux is just really enjoying this bad economy."

"They're coming out of the woodwork to support Linux because (vendors) want to support anything that will run their products," Petreley said. "To me, this is all good for Linux. This is a killer announcement. The question is, 'Can they really deliver?' I don't see why not."

Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Forrester Research, said PeopleSoft, like other software vendors, has seen "the competitive aspect of having a Linux solution. There's obvious demand in the market," Quandt said.

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