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Netscape, PeopleSoft team for Net

The companies are collaborating on a set of Java applets to work with Netscape's upcoming Communicator software.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) and business applications maker PeopleSoft (PSFT) are teaming up to make their Internet software and business applications work better together.

PeopleSoft today pledged to deliver a series of administrative applications written in Java to work with Netscape's Communicator client software. The technology announcement fleshes out a business relationship between the two companies announced last week.

The Java applications will ship with the next version of the company's software suite, PeopleSoft 7, which is due in the first quarter of next year. The applications will work with Communicator's messaging engine, security setup, and directory services, PeopleSoft said. No pricing was announced.

Communicator is Netscape's next-generation Web browser that incorporates many collaborative computing applications.

While they won't be the first Web applications to head to market, PeopleSoft 7 is likely to roll out just as the corporate marketplace for such applications begins to mature, said Judy Hodges, an analyst with International Data Corporation said.

"PeopleSoft had to step up to the task of moving to the Web sooner or later," Hodges said. "The company has picked a good partner in Netscape."

The two companies said their software "marriage" is designed to make it quicker and easier for large corporations to deploy and use complex computer networks. Many corporations have moved their internal computer networks onto the Internet in the past year, and more are expected in the coming 12 months. With the online move, they have also expanded the realm of collaborative computing possibilities.

Netscape and PeopleSoft are trying to capitalize on this trend by offering software to make it easy for employees, suppliers, and customers to perform a variety of tasks on a company's public Internet site, behind its firewall on a private intranet, and among companies that have linked their intranets to form an extranet.

"The major benefit is going to be to bring the applications out from behind the corporate firewalls and to business partners," according to Jack Maynard, a senior analyst at the Aberdeen Group. "Within the next two years, we will see a lot more of it."

Deploying and maintaining Web applications has been widely promoted as cheaper and easier than use of traditional client-server systems. However, integration of various Web applications can require lots of custom integration work, analysts said. The PeopleSoft and Netscape deal should minimize that customization.

Companies must still meet other challenges, such as training new users and securing networks so that people using the company sites see only authorized information, Hodges said.

As previously reported, PeopleSoft today made available beta versions of 15 self-service applications for use on the Web, called Universal Applications. The applications will be commercially available with PeopleSoft 7 next year.