OPENWORLD - Oracle exec reassures PeopleSoft customers

The executive in charge of Oracle's PeopleSoft division reassures customers about the product line's future.

The head of Oracle's PeopleSoft division this week gave customers a look at the PeopleSoft road map and repeatedly affirmed that support for the line will continue for at least the next couple of years.

"Our commitment to PeopleSoft within Oracle remains, despite any messages you may be hearing out there," said Doris Wong, vice president and general manager, PeopleSoft Enterprise, during a forum at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Oracle is continuing to provide support and upgrades for PeopleSoft and other product lines it acquired -- such as JD Edwards -- through its Applications Unlimited program. This support will continue even after the release of Oracle's anticipated Fusion Applications line.

The company's notoriously grueling battle to buy PeopleSoft prompted worry among existing PeopleSoft customers about the fate of the products. Similar concerns have been raised recently among BEA users, following Oracle's highly public interest in the middleware company.

Right now, the company is in the design and coding phase for the 9.1 version of PeopleSoft, a release Oracle is targeting for the end of 2008, Wong said. Oracle will also produce a 9.2 version at some point, according to Wong.

The worries of at least some customers have been allayed, according to three who spoke at the forum.

Hubert Winter, a director at PeopleSoft customer Deutsche Bank, said the company was initially uneasy about PeopleSoft's future following the Oracle sale, but no more. "At first, we were scared," he said at the forum. "Now we're seeing more and more of the advantages in this merger."

Sprint Nextel recently completed a major upgrade and integration project involving PeopleSoft products, said Mike Egan, an IT executive with the company. "Assuming Oracle's committed to the product line, Sprint is committed to PeopleSoft," he said during the forum.

Oracle has recently been better at communicating with PeopleSoft customers, said Charlotte Skawski, service delivery director at The Hartford during an interview after the forum, where she also spoke. "Last year, it was more just nothing. You just didn't know what was going on," she said.

Wong asserted in an interview after the forum that this will no longer be the case.

"We really have been working on the messaging. We're very crisp in our messaging now," she said.

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