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PeopleSoft retools for Java

PeopleSoft next week will roll out the next generation of its application package, PeopleSoft 7, which will include new Java client software and multitiered deployment options.

Enterprise application software maker PeopleSoft (PSFT) next week will roll out the next generation of its application package, PeopleSoft 7, which will include new Java client software and multitiered deployment options.

Also new is OLAP (online analytical processing) integration, and the addition of the company's Universal Applications, which provide self-service transactions over the Web. The package includes two new applications, Product Configurator and Engineering.

Analysts believe PeopleSoft's move to the three-tier option is milestone for the company.

"This is a major release for the company," said analyst Judy Hodges, of International Data Corporation. "Their competitors--SAP and Baan--have had three-tier in their product for some time. PeopleSoft has caught up with this latest release."

PeopleSoft 7 brings PeopleSoft up a few notches in the enterprise software market, said Hodges. "They'll now be on par with SAP and Baan. I'm really impressed by this introduction."

Company executives said the three-tier processing option is an improvement over the last generation because it minimizes network traffic over both LANs (local area networks) and WANs (wide area networks).

Initial benchmark test results showed major gains in performance, according to Hodges, when comparing the performance of version 6 and 7 in a three-tier WAN configuration using Pentium 90 MHz client; a four-way Pentium Pro 200 MHz application server running NT; and a separate four-way Pentium Pro 666 MHz database server running on an Oracle relational database on Windows NT.

"The three-tier processing option gives our users better performance and enables them to get more work done," said Stanley Swete, vice president in charge of the company's PeopleTools product strategy.

Though a big step in the architecture of the enterprise software, the three-tier feature isn't the only thing that caught the eye of PeopleSoft user Glen Marfell, who plans to implement the latest generation next year at his company.

The senior human resources manager for DHL Airways said he's excited about the Java client support that has been added to the new release.

"We're looking forward to the Web enabled front end," Marfell said. "Now this will give us the desktop-independent service we've been looking for to get our system out to everybody."

The Java-applet Web client runs in Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Communication's Navigator Web browsers. The Web client offers users full access to PeopleSoft panels and queries, as well as to work lists from PeopleSoft's embedded workflow.

The Web client uses BEA Systems', Jolt middleware for connectivity to the PeopleSoft applications server.

"This will give access to our employees and couriers out in the field in real-time," said Marfell.

PeopleSoft 7 will be generally available in September, according to the company. Pricing has not been set, but PeopleSoft 6 sells for $100,000 per application. Current users can upgrade for no additional charge.