PeopleSoft Exec: Enterprise Apps Will ConvergeBy Tom Steinert-Threlkeld Print
Online exclusive: Executive Vice President Ram Gupta predicted that enterprise applications will come together as unified services, much as individual desktop packages converged into suites.
NEW ORLEANSEnterprise software is at about the same stage as desktop software more than a decade ago: It's time to combine the main applications into unified services, said Ram Gupta, executive vice president of products and technology for PeopleSoft, at the Pleasanton, Calif., company's PeopleSoft Connect 2002 users conference Tuesday.
"Now is the time for us to rethink things," he said.
In personal computing, widely used products such as the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet and the WordPerfect text processing program gave way to Microsoft Office, which combined word processing, electronic spreadsheets, idea presentation and e-mail communications into one suite of programs that shared conventions and easily swapped content.
Now, the same transition needs to occur in enterprise software, he said, where companies manage everything from payroll to manufacturing processes with a variety of programs that don't always easily work well together.
Even if a company uses a specialist in integrating applications, such as a TIBCO or a Vitria, the demands of swapping information and instructions among data warehouses, enterprise portals and other uses inevitably puts a major strain on information technology departments. They still have to manage the process and smooth out any rough edges.
"You are becoming the integrator of integration software," Gupta told an audience of more than 1,000 information technology professionals.
To make existing applications work together more easily, PeopleSoft is pushing a set of AppConnect tools to help companies unify their applications. The suite includes Application Integration Broker, which helps Web-based services interact more quickly and effectively; Enterprise Portal, a customized gateway to external data; and Enterprise Warehouse, which helps applications extract data from central storehouses.
For years, enterprise software suppliers such as SAP and PeopleSoft have been building new modules in their product lineups to cover just about any corporate information need. But they may never be able to cover all bases, with modules that meet all needs. For instance, Corning Specialty Materials has just completed an overhaul of the process by which its factories communicate with each other; the company uses PeopleSoft software to provide unity of reporting at a standardized, high level but Camstar software to handle nitty-gritty details of its manufacturing operations.
The push for integration is being echoed by other software companies that serve corporations with complex needs. SAP co-chairman Hasso Plattner launched a campaign for "cross app" integration in his keynote at the Sapphire 2002 users conference earlier this year. And integration is key to the achievement of what Computer Associates Chief Technology Officer Yogesh Gupta calls "pervasive computing."
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