Oracle goes after JD Edwards user groups

After a combative 18 months under PeopleSoft Inc., Australian JD Edwards (JDE) user groups are now forming the front-line of Oracle Corp.’s battle to win the hearts, minds and revenues of its newly acquired ERP customer base.

While the rest of PeopleSoft’s customers will have to wait until early Wednesday to learn of their fate under Larry Ellison, representatives of Australian JD Edwards’ user groups are on Tuesday receiving a “special advance briefing” assuring them their vendor-independent autonomy will not be challenged under Oracle’s control.

Asked to comment on the briefing, Brian Mitchell, Oracle vice president for acquisitions and mergers for Asia Pacific said only that “In the normal course of business, Oracle regularly meets with customers, partners and other external parties. However, we don’t provide specifics of each meeting.”

The moves to quell uncertainty amongst Oracle’s new JDE customers comes after a sustained revolt by customers following PeopleSoft’s moves to cut sponsorship and support of independently run international JDE user group, Quest, across the world.

PeopleSoft cut off its support of Quest in January 2004, banning its employees from addressing Quest’s worldwide and local user group conferences on the vendor’s plans in favour of staging its own more managed events.

Locally, JDE users appear to be shedding few tears over the demise of PeopleSoft’s user group management model, with many JDE customers standing to reap savings from combining their existing Oracle database and JDE ERP licences.

“For us it’s a much better outcome because it means we can kill two birds with the one stone. Ultimately we could see one licence and one platform and that would simplify thing enormously,” said one Sydney based Quest member.

The member added he was satisfied with Oracle’s treatment of user groups for its current customers. Similarly, Doug George, group general manager of Smorgon Steel and JDE Southern Local User Group director, says he sees his enterprise continuing to do business with Oracle, adding that the merger added certainty and created opportunities.

“Smorgon’s relationship with Oracle goes well beyond [JDE]. We are interested in what will happen. [Oracle] contacted us [about the advance briefing],” George said.

Asked whether having been through three vendors for the one software product in 18 months had proved a trial, George remained philosophical. “That’s just what goes on in IT-land with mergers and acquisitions. You just deal with it,” George said.

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