In a move to placate the fears of PeopleSoft Inc. customers, Oracle Corp. recently held an audio “town hall” meeting, during which executive vice-president Chuck Phillips answered vetted user questions.

Phillips started off by saying that Oracle’s “number one priority is to preserve these (PeopleSoft) investments and minimize any impact our tender offer will have on your organization.”

But one analyst equated Oracle’s pitch to that of a politician saying whatever is needed to get elected. “The end goal is getting into office,” said Warren Shaiu, software analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto. “They say a lot of things and…sometimes follow through. Unless all of these things were put down on paper and it became a contractual obligation…(it) doesn’t mean they will actually come through.”

Brahim Hoosein, MIS manager with Belvedere International Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., agreed with Shiau. “It is just like the politicians: I won’t believe it until I see it.”

For Pat Brickson, a software engineer with Digi-Key Corp. in Thief River Falls, Minn., there were no guarantees when he went through an Oracle acquisition. Almost a decade ago, Oracle bought the Rdb database from Digital Equipment Corp. Oracle originally said the Rdb technology would be merged with its own database.

“We were concerned at the time,” he said of the planned technology merger. As it turned out, Oracle did not merge the two databases and support and upgrades for the Rdb product have been good, Brickson said. “I think that [support] has actually been superior to what Digital Equipment provided.”

On the user side there is almost a sense of indifference, as more pressing issues occupy their time.

“It could be disconcerting if Oracle wins on this, but again, who knows what their intentions are overall?” said Steve Elioff, vice-president and CRM program director with AGF Management Ltd. in Toronto.

“We are fairly deeply in the middle of an implementation of PeopleSoft, so I haven’t been paying very much attention,” he said. “So from our perspective, it is not something that we are going to get too excited about.”

But if Oracle is successful, Elioff has a warning. “They are going to have to face the reality of dealing with the (PeopleSoft) customer base.”

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