PeopleSoft Aims To "Offload" Tech Manager Tasks

By Tom Steinert-Threlkeld  |  Posted 2003-05-06 Print this article Print

Software maker pitches taking every day tasks away from corporations' technology staffs, so that constrained budgets could be spent on new software products rather than maintenance and operation of existing systems.

LAS VEGAS--PeopleSoft Tuesday began a process of taking every day tasks away from corporations' information technology staffs, so that constrained budgets could be spent on new software products rather than maintenance and operation of existing systems.

President and chief executive Craig Conway told 2,500 customers, media and analysts at the PeopleSoft Leadership Summit that the Pleasanton, Calif., company would focus on improving the "ownership experience" of its customers. Simply stated, the initiative would:

  • Reduce costs of operating technology organizations, by embedding code into applications so that performance could be monitored and needed patches automatically identified.

  • End "dependencies'' on proprietary operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows software for desktop and server computers. PeopleSoft specifically said it would release versions of its entire product lineup that would run on the Red Hat distribution of the "open" operating system known as Linux. The company also announced an alliance with IBM that would tune those applications to run on Big Blue's hardware.

  • Eliminate middleware. PeopleSoft said its applications now would be able to connect to and draw data from applications sold by its chief rivals, SAP and Oracle. Companies would no longer have to spend on intermediary software that made the connections for them, often on a custom basis.

    Conway said the moves would have a "profound impact on enterprise software,'' and help extend companies' spending on new information technology.

    In particular, companies will save on the amounts they spend on integrating software from different suppliers. He said $1 out of every $3 spent on information technology by companies today goes toward such integration. One PeopleSoft customer, CitiGroup, spent significantly more than 50 percent of its budget on tying together disparate systems, he said.

    PeopleSoft, in fact, announced several initiatives that would potentially reduce the amount of money technology shops would have to spend on people, as well.

    Conway said, for instance, that PeopleSoft would direct 500 of its own developers to simplify or remove tasks now handled by technology professionals in corporations today, in the installation, configuration, support, upgrading and performance monitoring of their systems.

    The company also announced a product called Enterprise Service Automation for IT that would automate key processes of a technology organization, including methods of managing spending and "optimizing" the use of available hardware, software and personnel. For instance, the software would keep management apprised of what deployments of new systems are running behind schedule and which are running over budget, marking them for potential elimination.

    As part of this effort, PeopleSoft announced a partnership with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young that would encapsulate best practices and industry expertise for technology managers, called CIO OneSource.

    The idea, said executive vice president Ram Gupta, was to create a planning and management system for technology executives. He called it "ERP for the CIO.''

    Further offloading tasks on enterprise software installations, the company said it would open a lab in Bangalore, India, where deployments for global customers would be tested, assisting and speeding the actual installation on a customer's campuses.

    The company said it also would expand the ability of its software to connect to and work with data from systems from rival suppliers of enterprise software, such as J.D. Edwards or Siebel Systems. "The list will grow,'' said Pat Quirk, vice president of PeopleSoft manufacturing products.

Tom was editor-in-chief of Interactive Week, from 1995 to 2000, leading a team that created the Internet industry's first newspaper and won numerous awards for the publication. He also has been an award-winning technology journalist for the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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