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Dawn Kawamoto


Alorie Gilbert

Staff Writer, CNET

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.–A week and a half after closing its long-sought PeopleSoft acquisition, Oracle on Tuesday unveiled plans for the product lines it will support, a new development road map and other details.

In a presentation Tuesday for analysts, customers and reporters, the database giant addressed some of the concerns that have been weighing on the minds of PeopleSoft customers, and offered a glimpse into how Oracle plans to move forward following the close of the $10.3 billion buy.

Larry Ellison
CEO, Oracle

For Oracle, the success of the deal will depend on how well it can entice customers of the former PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards & Co. to switch to its own software and, for those who don’t switch, its ability to persuade them to stay with Oracle for their support rather than jump to a third-party vendor. J.D. Edwards is a software company that PeopleSoft had bought in 2003, shortly before Oracle set its sights on PeopleSoft.

Throughout his presentation, Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chief executive, stressed “continuity” as though it were a mantra.

“If you’re an existing Oracle, PeopleSoft or J.D. Edwards customer, continuity is very important to us,” he said. “We’ll preserve your investment in PeopleSoft, we’ll preserve your investment in J.D. Edwards, and we’ll preserve your investment in Oracle. Our intent is not only to support the current PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards and Oracle products into the next decade, but we also plan to continue to enhance those products for years to come.”

Ellison said Oracle can juggle four balls at once: development and support of PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and Oracle products, as well as a combination product currently being called “Project Fusion.”

“In addition to continuing the development of three existing product lines, we will develop a combined product of J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle to build a super suite of applications, if you will,” Ellison said. “We are a large company (and) have the wherewithal to continue development of three product lines while developing a successor, (a) merged product.”

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In mid-December, PeopleSoft’s board of directors approved the Oracle buy, transforming what had been a contentious hostile merger battle, one that had begun 18 months earlier, into a comparatively friendly deal.

It was a battle that cost PeopleSoft’s former chief executive, Craig Conway, his job. It also entangled antitrust regulators in both Europe and the United States.

Since it became clear the deal would go through, customers of the former PeopleSoft have been anxious to hear how and whether Oracle would support its products. On Tuesday, executives attempted to soothe those fears.

Plans call for products of the former PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards to have more than 3,000 developers working on continued development of those tools, though those developers will also work on Project Fusion, the combination product. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 developers will handle Oracle products, while also working on the combination product.

Oracle announced Friday it would retain 90 percent of PeopleSoft’s development and support staff, even though it was cutting 5,000 jobs from the combined company.

Charles Phillips
president, Oracle

Ellison and a handful of other executives speaking at Tuesday’s event emphasized the scale of the combined company, which together employs nearly 50,000 workers, supports 23,000 applications customers and has 1,300 applications partners.

Its new size should help the company compete better with big rivals, namely Germany’s SAP.

Oracle President Charles Phillips, who spoke after Ellison, said the company will not let transition work related to the acquisition distract it from taking good care of customers.

“We’re externally focused and open for business,” Phillips said. “It’s more important that we solve your needs.”

Staying friends with IBM
Phillips also pledged to nurture new partners gained in the merger, including IBM–an Oracle foe in the database software market. Specifically, some future Oracle products will run on IBM’s iSeries server software line, he said.

“Our partnership with IBM will hopefully get a lot better going forward,” Phillips said.