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Oracle releases PeopleSoft Enterprise 9

Company keeps promise to continue supporting, enhancing PeopleSoft products with rollout of new application sets.

Oracle on Monday announced the release of PeopleSoft Enterprise 9, making good on its promise to continue supporting and enhancing PeopleSoft products.

PeopleSoft 9, a series of three application modules, marks one of Oracle's three major 2006 initiatives following its acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems and a host of smaller software makers. Oracle aims to reassure PeopleSoft users who were concerned that the software giant would force them to switch to Oracle's own set of applications.

Oracle also announced the formation of a dedicated, centralized PeopleSoft team with the appointment of a PeopleSoft Enterprise general manager, Doris Wong. An 11-year PeopleSoft veteran who arrived at Oracle via the acquisition, Wong plans to lead the strategic direction and development of current and future PeopleSoft products.

"We will help PeopleSoft customers protect their investment in PeopleSoft," Wong said. "This applies not only to future releases but also in giving them a choice when they want to move to Fusion or stay with PeopleSoft."

Fusion is a major initiative by Oracle to integrate technology from the myriad software vendors the company has acquired--including PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and Siebel--and develop a new software applications suite.

PeopleSoft 9 is being introduced in phases. The release of Learning Management 9.0 marks the first phase. This module will focus on offering certification and regulatory compliance support.

PeopleSoft Enterprise Performance Management, the next module scheduled for release, is expected to debut later this summer or early fall. Financial and human capital management components are also set to be released by the end of the year.

"There are three themes with PeopleSoft release 9, and they'll be the same themes you'll see in future releases," Wong said.

PeopleSoft 9 can tie into Oracle's Fusion Middleware, providing a way for users to become more familiar with Fusion, once the applications suite begins to roll out in phases next year. Oracle's latest release of PeopleSoft software also aims to offer greater functionality than previously available and is expected reduce the cost of owning the software.

"PeopleSoft users can say, 'I will upgrade to the next release because I'm not ready to migrate to Fusion,'" Wong said. "When they move, it will be their decision."

Oracle, in a move to reduce the prospect of PeopleSoft software customers bolting to a rival, introduced its "Applications Unlimited" program, which calls for ongoing PeopleSoft product development rather than just support services.

Oracle is offering lifetime support for its current generation of products, but the software maker is also encouraging users to "retire" custom-built applications that may not work with its Fusion technology.

Oracle may also find that it is making it comfortable enough for PeopleSoft users to continue using their software rather than migrating to the Fusion suite.

Wong, however, noted that "as technology changes and evolves, companies look at their (own) technology and make changes accordingly."