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PeopleSoft Seeks Renaissance with PeopleSoft 8

PeopleSoft Inc. sought to reinvent itself Tuesday with the formal release of PeopleSoft 8, the latest version of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

ERP software automates and manages a company's manufacturing, order entry, accounts receivable and payable, general ledger, purchasing, warehousing, transportation and human resources needs.

PeopleSoft is betting that the software, re-architectured and redesigned for the Internet, will allow it to close the lead opened by its primary rivals, Oracle and SAP AG. Both companies released Internet-centric business applications months ago. PeopleSoft put a lot of resources behind that bet. The company has spent two years and $500 million developing the new version.

PeopleSoft said the biggest difference in PeopleSoft 8 is the software's look and feel. The applications have been redesigned to look like Web pages rather than Windows applications running on a browser. The company said that makes its applications much easier to use. Neither Oracle nor SAP have adopted this sort of "pure Internet" interface.

The PeopleSoft 8 suite includes PeopleSoft Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Human Resource Management, Financials, and Professional Services Automation, as well as other industry-specific solutions. Included in the suite are 59 new applications PeopleSoft is calling "collaborative" software. These applications are intended to increase an organization's competitiveness by extending business processes beyond the enterprise and enabling seamless exchange of ideas, information, products and services between customers, employees and suppliers.

A sample of the applications include eBenefits, eProcurement, and Travel & Expense. The software also includes front-office applications integrated from Vantive's line of Customer Relationship Management products. PeopleSoft bought Vantive last October.

The collaborative applications are accessed via PeopleSoft portals that tailor business content to individual users -- displaying customer, human resource, supplier and analytic information to users when they sign on to their portals.

The suite is powered by the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture, which the company calls the industry's most open and scalable eBusiness platform based on HTML and XML. PeopleSoft said the sever-centric architecture significantly decreases cost by eliminating the need for anything but a browser on the user end. The company added that the suite integrates quickly and cost-effectively with third-party software.

Also, PeopleSoft has teamed with Web search company Verity and has integrated its search capabilities into the application suite, allowing companies to search for data in their ERP system. PeopleSoft 8 also supports Unicode, which allows customers to centrally manage implementation of the suite in virtually every modern language on a single database.

PeopleSoft is the first enterprise application vendor to deliver a pure Internet solution," said Craig Conway, president and chief executive officer of PeopleSoft. "PeopleSoft 8 is an entirely new generation of eBusiness applications, and represents PeopleSoft's emergence as an Internet company."

PeopleSoft 8 is scheduled to ship in September. No pricing was announced. Beta customers include Green Mountain Coffee, Cisco Systems Inc. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Co.