PeopleSoft co-founder launches ERP software suite

Dave Duffield, the co-founder of PeopleSoft, is hoping he can duplicate the success of his previous applications venture, although this time around he’s focused on hosted software.

Duffield and some of his former PeopleSoft colleagues Monday announced the general availability of the first of four planned suites from their new on-demand ERP (enterprise resource planning) software company Workday Inc.

The first suite, Workday Human Capital Management (HCM), is already deployed at two companies — multichannel customer service firm Kana Software Inc. of San Diego, which employs 150 staff, and biotechnology player Biosite Inc. with its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and a headcount of 1,100. Workday has three other customers close to going live with its HCM suite, according to Duffield, who is Workday’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Looking ahead, Workday plans three other suites in the areas of financial, resource and revenue management that should be released next year. At the same time, the company will “deepen and broaden” its HCM offering, Duffield said.

Workday also announced four key partnerships, and the most significant is with Microsoft Corp. The software giant to date has limited presence in the on-demand applications market, with the focus on hosted CRM (customer relationship management) software, not ERP.

Workday and Microsoft are hoping to provide integration between Workday software and Microsoft’s Outlook, SharePoint Server and Exchange Server products some time next year.

Turning to the other partnerships, systems integrator Accenture Ltd. is building a practice around Workday technology. Payroll specialist Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) is integrating its PayForce product with Workday’s offerings. Finally, Workday has embedded Cape Clear Software Inc.’s ESB (enterprise service bus) as part of its core infrastructure.

Duffield blamed Oracle Corp. for his re-entry into the software world.

Toward the end of the 18-month hostile takeover bid Oracle waged to acquire PeopleSoft, Duffield came out of retirement to rejoin PeopleSoft.

“We worked like crazy for several months to keep PeopleSoft from the clutches of Oracle,” he said. “When Oracle prevailed, it inadvertently opened a door for us.” Duffield and former PeopleSoft colleague Aneel Bhusri founded Workday in March 2005 and the company, in Walnut Creek, California, now employs 65 people.

Duffield is keeping PeopleSoft’s former emphasis of looking after its staff and good customer service with his new venture, he said. He believes the world needs another ERP player to make it easier for customers to change, use and integrate back-end applications.

Workday has architected its software with Web 2.0 in mind, Bhusri said, with the applications including XML (Extensible Markup Language) and AJAX along with built-in analytics and reporting.

Workday is initially focusing its hosted software on North American upper midmarket companies with 1,000 to 5,000 staff and annual revenue of US$200 million to $1 billion, Bhusri said.

The vendor hopes to begin introducing global functionality in the second half of 2007 to cover countries like Australia and the U.K., as well as going after business in Asia-Pacific, he added.

The company doesn’t expect to release pricing for its hosted applications until January, but it’ll probably be on a per-employee annual subscription basis, Bhusri said.

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