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PeopleSoft adds new version of former J.D. Edwards toolset

PeopleSoft Inc. has unveiled a new version of its EnterpriseOne Tools, which officials said adds features that can help mid-market companies with limited IT resources more easily deploy applications. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company claims the new version can reduce the time it takes to install its EnterpriseOne Rapid Start solutions by as much as three days.

EnterpriseOne Tools Version 8.93 is described as a set of tools for implementing and managing the EnterpriseOne line of pre-integrated business applications. The applications are designed for rapid deployment on an Internet architecture, and are aimed at companies in asset-intensive industries such as manufacturing and distribution. PeopleSoft inherited the suite of software modules when it acquired J.D. Edwards & Co. in August 2003. The software was previously called the J.D. Edwards 5 line.

The Rapid Start solution, which includes software, hardware, education and services, and uses a fixed-time, fixed-cost deployment framework developed by PeopleSoft, is available to PeopleSoft customers running IBM eServer iSeries-based platforms as well as Intel-based hardware platforms.

The shorter installation times are the result of PeopleSoft having optimized the install scripts for the tools. Installation times vary by company and application. "A very simple install can take less than a week, while a more complex one can take multiple weeks," said Michael Seymour, product marketing manager for EnterpriseOne Tools. But in all cases, he noted, three days were lopped off the installation cycle.

Like many other application software vendors, PeopleSoft previously offered only one set of install scripts. According to Seymour, a vendor that supports only one or two platforms would likely have platform-specific install scripts, while one that supported many platforms would more likely offer a generic install script. "The more cross-platform you are, the more likely you are to have generic install scripts because they're very time-consuming to create," said Seymour.

PeopleSoft's decision to create install scripts for specific operating system/database combinations runs counter to this rule of thumb. But, Seymour said, "we've been listening to our customers, and they want to get the installation done as quickly as humanly possible, so they can spend more time on projects to deliver additional IT value." To do this, PeopleSoft created multiple install scripts for platforms such as Windows SQL Server, Windows-DB2 and Windows-Oracle.

Before year's end, PeopleSoft plans to offer the same accelerated installation on all its EnterpriseOne solutions, and not just those that work with Rapid Start. "All of our installs will be reduced by three days," said Seymour.

Although EnterpriseOne Tools is a new concept for PeopleSoft, Seymour notes that the tools are mature and were used to write J.D. Edwards applications. At PeopleSoft, EnterpriseOne Tools is one element of the Technology Foundation package, which also includes IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM DB2 Universal Database and PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne Collaborative Portal (based on IBM WebSphere Portal).

Other features in EnterpriseOne Tools 8.93 include support of Linux and BEA WebLogic infrastructure. (The EnterpriseOne line had previously supported only IBM WebSphere.) The new release also aggregates all tasks that need to be completed on a single screen. This enhancement is targeted at power users and dramatically reduces the number of steps need to complete a business process, since users no longer have to access multiple screens.

Seymour said PeopleSoft's tools philosophy is based on programming efficiency. "Since we use our own tools, we want them to be as efficient as possible," he said. "Our programming model is event-driven, which means our customers can engage in non-invasive customization. In other words, they can preserve changes when they update the application."

The PeopleSoft tools are also meta data-based. "Our business logic is stored in meta data in a technology-neutral format that protects our customers from future technology change. For instance, prior to 1999, we only offered a Windows client. But because our tools are meta data-driven, we were able to build some widgets at the runtime level, which allowed us to build the same forms in a Web browser."

Over the next nine months, said Seymour, "you're going to see us focus on usability -- making our tools and our applications easier to use." PeopleSoft, he added, is also planning updates in its tools to make change management easier. "That's where our customers are feeling pain these days," he noted.

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