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Oracle Trying to Reassure HP, Other PeopleSoft Customers

January 21, 2005
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Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has set out to court PeopleSoft Inc.’s 12,750 customers now that its $10.3 billion takeover is complete and its plans have been set.

That includes Hewlett-Packard, one of PeopleSoft’s human resources software customers. Ellison says he has spoken with HP CEO Carly Fiorina, reassuring her that the company’s investment is safe. And HP isn’t the only one being wooed. Ellison said he is confident that Oracle will be able to retain 95 percent of PeopleSoft’s customers.

"As long as we do a good job supporting it and improving it, why would they change?" Ellison says. "We think they are going to stay with us as long as we deliver."

Among its promises, Oracle says it will handle customer calls, fix software bugs and enhance PeopleSoft’s products until 2013. It will even extend support beyond what PeopleSoft had promised for some J.D. Edwards & Co. products. (PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards last year.)

In a few years, Oracle will debut a "superset" product, dubbed Project Fusion, that will incorporate the best features from Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards.

All customers will be able to transition to the new software smoothly, Ellison says. Individual pieces of Project Fusion will debut in 2007, with the entire suite available by 2008.

In the meantime, Oracle plans to release PeopleSoft 8.9 by the end of the year. It will also develop the next generation of PeopleSoft products, PeopleSoft 9, following a release schedule already set by PeopleSoft.

Oracle will also release J.D. Edwards 8.12, not to mention its own Oracle 12 e-business suite. Don’t expect a Version 13, though, Ellison jokes.

PeopleSoft customers should not feel that they will now be forced to "stay frozen," Ellison says, since the products will be kept up to date as the rest of the technology industry evolves.

"Consistency and continuity"
To accomplish this, Oracle has retained 90 percent of PeopleSoft’s software development and support employees, keeping many of them at PeopleSoft’s Pleasanton, California, headquarters. However, Oracle did slash 5,000 jobs, or about 9 percent of its workforce, largely in marketing, human resources and administration.

Most of PeopleSoft’s top executives also have left. One who has stayed and is playing a critical role in the new company is Jesper Andersen, who had been PeopleSoft’s group vice president and general manager of PeopleSoft tools and technology.

Oracle has also shaken up its own teams. John Wookey is spearheading the applications development of Oracle and PeopleSoft, and replaces Oracle veteran Ron Wohl, who is taking a sabbatical. Juergen Rottler is in charge of support, taking over for Michael Rocha.

All in all, PeopleSoft customers should expect more of the same for the time being, Oracle says, emphasizing "consistency" and "continuity" in its approach. Customers will continue speaking to the same PeopleSoft contact as before the merger and paying the same fees, and should anticipate the same product release schedules. They should also start seeing better support, such as assistance in additional languages and more support centers.

--Ellen Lee

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