Ongoing support issues trouble users

PeopleSoft Australia executives are banned from discussing the Oracle takeover bid but the impact looms large considering the company has 153 customers in Australia and JD Edwards has a further 152 customers locally.

Subhash Parui, Australian Oracle User Group NSW president, said it is too early to determine whether Oracle’s adoption of PeopleSoft technology will result in better value for users.

“Oracle technology is at the leading edge,” Parui said. “Normally with a major acquisition the vendors have effective communication strategies in place. Users can expect to see a major briefing from Oracle.”

Parui agreed that although many Oracle users are also PeopleSoft users, the two systems are very different.

“There are installations of PeopleSoft using Oracle,” he said. “It is difficult to compare the two primarily because Oracle is a database and application suite vendor.”

Robbie Lehman, systems strategy manager of renewable energy firm Hydro Tasmania and a JD Edwards Australia customer, is already concerned about the PeopleSoft acquisition, let alone the ramifications of an Oracle takeover.

He is concerned about product support now the vendor has been bought out. A JDE customer since mid-2001, Lehman said he was not impressed by the fact his organisation received support from within Australia for the first 18 months after implementing JD Edwards payroll and HR software modules, only to find support being done from the company's Denver, US, headquarters from April 2002.

"I'm not a big fan of support coming from the US as it's not efficient or responsive sometimes," he said, adding that other JD Edwards customers in Australia felt that decision had not improved the quality of support.

Also, Lehman speculated there may be confusion or delay among JD Edwards and PeopleSoft customers' buying and implementation plans due to uncertainty over possible product overlap and the integration capabilities of their products with clients' existing systems. "It would be difficult for a customer to continue on with a [procurement] decision in this case and could certainly up the risk factor for the customer," he said.

One buyer of both PeopleSoft and Oracle products, industrial goods maker Ametek chief information officer Bill Lawson, had mixed thoughts. "If I felt strongly that [Oracle was] going to take all that investment money and funnel that back to me in the Oracle products in which I've invested, I can see that as having an upside," Lawson said.

But if Oracle's focus were diverted by its attempts to both advance its own products and continue maintaining PeopleSoft's, Oracle customers could suffer from the vendor's fragmentation, he said.

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