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PeopleSoft, JDE execs strategize on merger, despite Oracle takeover bid

Despite an attempt by Oracle to buy PeopleSoft, executives are talking about how the companies would merge product lines -- and it looks like the iSeries will come out on top.

DENVER -- Today, "PeopleSoft Inc." is hardly synonymous with "iSeries." But if the ERP vendor successfully acquires J.D. Edwards, it would become a major player in the platform's applications space.

In a taped address Tuesday to attendees of the Quest Global conference, a J.D. Edwards user show, PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway said that iSeries applications would be an important part of the company's product strategy. The resulting company would have three product lines, focusing on enterprise customers, midmarket companies and iSeries applications.

In many ways, one can interpret the merger as PeopleSoft's desire to move into the iSeries space, J.D. Edwards chairman and CEO Bob Dutkowsky said during the conference. It means that J.D. Edwards' loyal user base of iSeries customers is seen as an asset.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft has pledged to continue to support J.D. Edwards applications. Customers will be able to migrate to PeopleSoft when it makes sense to them. "They will not be forced down a path because that is what the vendor wants them to do," Dutkowsky said.

The duo's plans to merge could be nixed, however, if Oracle has its way. Just days after PeopleSoft announced its plans to acquire Denver-based J.D. Edwards in a $1.7 billion stock deal, Oracle announced it would attempt to buy PeopleSoft for about $5 billion.

Oracle has said it would review whether to go ahead with the J.D. Edwards acquisition if it successfully acquires PeopleSoft, but observers seriously doubt the Redwood City, Calif.-based database giant would want to buy J.D. Edwards.

PeopleSoft is moving forward in hopes that Oracle's takeover bid is unsuccessful.

If PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards do merge, the combined company will offer more opportunities to customers of both vendors. Good technologies from both companies can be integrated into product lines, executives say. Enterprise-grade functionality from PeopleSoft products can be included in J.D. Edwards products.

Getting PeopleSoft applications to run natively on the iSeries would take some time, said Michael Madden, J.D. Edwards' senior vice president and chief technology officer. But there are other, shorter-term options, such as running PeopleSoft on Linux in a logical partition on the iSeries. Shops can also run PeopleSoft applications using PASE, Madden said.

J.D. Edwards has plenty of internal experience making applications work well on the iSeries. The company has worked with IBM Corp. for 26 years, making sure its products perform on the platform.

At Quest this week, IBM and J.D. Edwards announced they achieved 14,148 concurrent users on iSeries boxes running a mixture of J.D. Edwards 5 financials, distribution and manufacturing applications.

"Now, a lot of midmarket users are not going to need so many concurrent users," said Cecelia Marrese, IBM's vice president for iSeries marketing, during the conference. "But they do want to see [whether] the iSeries running J.D. Edwards can scale as much as they need."

"Also, a lot of small and medium-sized business see themselves as ultimately being large enterprises," said Julie Ransom, iSeries alliance manager to J.D. Edwards. "They want to see that the platform would work for them in the long haul."


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